The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox will meet in the World Series for the fourth time, starting with Game 1 tonight at Fenway Park. It's a matchup of the teams that shared the best record in baseball.
Each has 104 wins, including postseason. The team that gets to 108 will be crowned champion.
Here are some of the notes and numbers you'll see and hear discussed on Baseball Tonight and on the ESPN Radio game broadcast with Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser.
Game 1 pitching matchup
Adam Wainwright is 2-1 with a 1.57 ERA in three starts this postseason. He has 20 strikeouts and one walk in 23 innings.
Wainwright won't be fazed by the big stage. He's allowed exactly one run in five of his seven postseason starts and is one of two pitchers who pitched in 2013 to have at least four postseason wins and four postseason saves in his career (the other being Mariano Rivera).
Jon Lester is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA this postseason. He'll be the third Red Sox lefty to start Game 1 of the World Series. The other two -- Babe Ruth (1918 against the Cubs) and Bruce Hurst (1986 against the Mets) pitched a combined 17 scoreless innings.
Key returnee: Allen Craig
The Cardinals get Allen Craig back after he missed the first two rounds of the postseason due to a foot injury.
As the heat map above shows, a good chunk of Craig’s value is how he fared in prime RBI opportunities, as he hit .454 with runners in scoring position during the regular season.
Only two players fared better in that situation in the last 40 seasons- George Brett (.469 in 1980) and Tony Gwynn (.459 in 1997).
The Cardinals as a team hit .330 with runners in scoring position during the regular season (the best mark ever recorded for a team since 1961, the first year for which full play-by-play data is available). In the NLCS win over the Dodgers, they bumped that to .349.
Endgame: The unhittable Uehara
American League Championship Series MVP Koji Uehara will try to finish off what has been an amazing run to the end of the 2013 season.
Since he became the closer on June 26, Uehara has posted a 0.51 ERA (three earned runs in 53 1/3 IP) and 0.39 WHIP (19 hits, two walks) in 49 appearances.
None of the Cardinals have seen Uehara before in the regular season or postseason, save for Carlos Beltran, who is 1-for-3 in his career against him.
The heat maps below show that Uehara has had success with pitches thrown almost anywhere.
Did You Know?
• This is the third time in the Wild Card era that the team with the best record in the American League has faced the team with the best record in the National League in the World Series. The other instances were 1995 (Braves defeated Indians) and 1999 (Yankees defeated Braves).
Highest Win Pct
World Series History
• There are three World Series matchups that have taken place more often than the Red Sox and Cardinals-- Dodgers versus Yankees (11 times), Giants versus Yankees (seven times) and Cardinals versus Yankees (five times).
• The Red Sox have reached the World Series a season after finishing in last place in the AL East.
They are the third team in the last seven seasons to go from last place to the World Series, joining the 2007 Rockies and 2008 Rays. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that the most recent team to go from last place to winning the World Series is the 1991 Twins.
• The Cardinals have 18 homegrown players on their roster (acquired either via the amateur draft or signed as an amateur free agent). That's the most on any team's World Series roster since 1995, the year of the first World Series in the Wild Card era.