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Two classy teams in classic matchup
World Series – Game 1
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET on Fox
Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75)
This is the first time the two teams with their league’s best records have met in the Fall Classic since the Yankees defeated the Braves in 1999. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals won 97 games, and proved to be among the best in baseball all season. This World Series has all the signs of a long, competitive, down-to-the-wire showdown. Both teams won their League Championship Series in six games with pitching as their hallmark. Both bullpens are strong, so it’s doubtful that either team will cough up leads in the late innings. Neither team hit particularly well in series that were dominated by pitching. Both Boston and St. Louis were opportunistic and capitalized on their opponents’ miscues. There will be no room for error in this series. Both teams must be sharp in the field and on the bases. A small mistake can mean the difference in one game, and one game will likely be the difference in the series. There is significant World Series experience in both dugouts, especially among position players. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, and Jon Lester and John Lackey of Boston are the only pitchers on the two rosters to appear for winning teams in a previous World Series. Baseball could not ask for a better matchup in the Fall Classic this season. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-40s at game time with a 50 percent chance of rain, baseball could have asked for better weather.
Keys for Boston
The Red Sox have four games at home and must capitalize on the magic of Fenway Park. The Cardinals struggle against left-handed pitching and Boston’s only southpaw starter, Jon Lester, goes tonight. If Lester is sharp and gets this game to the bullpen by the seventh inning, manager John Farrell will likely leave the park happy. Offensively, the Red Sox love to run. They stole 123 bases and were caught just 19 times for a major league-best 87 percent success rate. They can’t afford to abandon that facet of their offense.
Keys for St. Louis
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is excited about Allen Craig getting back in the lineup. He led the club with 97 RBIs in the regular season, but has been out since early September with a foot injury. The Cardinals’ offense needs a boost, and Craig is the man for the job. Catcher Yadier Molina is the best in the business at shutting down opponents’ running games. He will have his hands full with Boston, a team that loves to run. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright allowed just three stolen bases in six attempts all season, with two of the steals coming with Tony Cruz behind the plate. The Cardinals’ bullpen is full of power arms and that matches up well against a team that’s not afraid to strike out.
Red Sox to Watch
David Ortiz is the man the Cardinals’ pitchers must deal with. If he’s not part of the Boston attack, the Red Sox may have trouble producing runs. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury will be a key for Boston to manufacture runs with speed. If he’s on base — and especially if he can steal a bag or two — the Red Sox can chip away with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia even if the Cardinals can neutralize Big Papi.
Cardinals to Watch
Wainwright has made seven postseason starts, but none in the World Series. He’s not likely to be fazed by the gravity of the moment, and the Cardinals need a strong outing by their leader. Carlos Beltran has been the Redbirds’ best RBI producer this postseason. He and Matt Holliday now have some help in Craig, a trio that should give Lester some trouble. Having the aging Beltran cover the spacious and quirky right field in Boston could be a factor.
Kyle Seager of Seattle is the only player to successfully steal against the Wainwright-Molina combination this season…The Cardinals are 4-3 in Wainwright’s seven postseason starts, 1-2 on the road…Wainwright has not allowed more than two runs in the any of the three losses…This is the second World Series start for Lester, who started Game 4 of the 2007 World Series…This is Lester’s fifth Game 1 start…The Red Sox are 2-2 in his previous four Game 1 outings…Wainwright has never faced Ellsbury, Pedroia or Ortiz…Tonight marks the 10th World Series game between the Cardinals and Red Sox at Fenway Park. Dating back to 1946, the Red Sox have won six of those games.