Here are 10 quick things you should know about the Red Sox’s World Series opponent, the St. Louis Cardinals. The series begins Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
1. It’s not official, but it’s likely Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will start Game 1 of the World Series. He would be doing so on eight days’ rest. In three starts this postseason, he is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 20 strikeouts and just one walk in 23 innings. In the regular season, he was 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA.
2. The National League playoffs have become Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha’s coming out party. The 22-year-old righty is 3-0 and has given up just one run in three postseason starts (0.43 ERA), with 22 strikeouts and four walks. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wacha is the first rookie to post a pair of scoreless starts in a single postseason series in baseball history, and just the third rookie all-time to win each of his first three starts in the postseason. He was also the first rookie to win an League Championship Series MVP since Livan Hernandez in 1997. He’d likely be on track to start Game 2 of the World Series against the Red Sox.
3. Carlos Beltran has been the Cardinals’ best run producer in the playoffs. Despite hitting just .256, Beltran has driven in a team-high 12 runs in the postseason. In Friday’s Game 6 victory over the Dodgers, he went 3-for-4, including two hits with runners in scoring position that produced two runs. Beltran is now hitting .440 (11-for-25) with runners in scoring position in his career in the playoffs. That is the highest batting average for any player with at least 25 at bats in that situation in major-league postseason history. His 37 career postseason RBIs are tied for fourth-most in National League history.
4. Beltran set the tone for the NLCS by almost single-handedly beating the Dodgers in Game 1. Not only did he drive in the Cardinals’ only two runs in the first nine innings, he threw out a runner at the plate in the 10th inning and plated the game-winning run in the 13th.
5. Dominant Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw had a 1.83 ERA in 33 starts this season for the Dodgers, but the Cardinals hit him well. Los Angeles lost all four games in which Kerhsaw (5.09 ERA) faced St. Louis. Against everyone else, he was 17-7 with a 1.64 ERA.
6. Second-year pitcher Trevor Rosenthal has taken hold of the closer’s job after Edward Mujica lost it toward the end of the season. Rosenthal, who can crack 100 mph on radar gun, has made six appearances this postseason, registering a 0.00 ERA in seven innings and racking up three saves. In the regular season, he fanned 108 in 75 1/3 innings. He and Sox closer Koji Uehara were two of just five relievers to strike out more than 100 (Uehara had 101). Here’s a good piece by ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick on Rosenthal that was written before the season.
7. The Cardinals shut out the Dodgers three times in six games of the NLDS, the first time a team has posted that many in a series since 1991, when the Pirates shut out the Braves four times.
8. The Cardinals are holding opponents to a .207 average in the postseason, though they’re hitting just .210 themselves.
9. Like the Tigers, the Cardinals won’t have a left-handed starter in the World Series.
10. This will be the Cardinals’ 19th World Series appearance, tied for most in NL history (with Giants) and second in major league history (to Yankees). It’s their fourth World Series appearance in the last 10 postseasons, the most of any team in that span. This World Series will be a rematch from 2004, when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals to win their first championship in 86 years. This will be the fourth Fall Classic meeting between the Red Sox and Cardinals, with St. Louis holding a 2-1 edge.