Predictions Made October 22, 2013 at 10:10 pm ET
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Cardinals in 7
If ever a World Series had seven game marathon written all over it is this year's matchup between the Boston Red Sox and the St, Louis Cardinals. Both teams posted records of 97-65 which was the best record in all of baseball. Both teams have had recent success, each winning two of the last nine World Series. The Red Sox ended their 86 year drought against St. Louis in 2004 that series was an anticlimactic sweep. However, two other Fall Classic meetings between the Red Sox and Cardinals were seven game classics with the Cardinals winning in Game 7 in 1946 and 1967.
These two teams could not be more evenly matched, with both teams having solid lineups, strong starting pitching and deep bullpens. Both teams have also enjoyed timely hitting, sharp defense and quality relief. Going position by position no team holds a great edge over the other, and the loss of the Designated Hitter could hurt the Red Sox in the middle three games in St. Louis as David Ortiz still is the most dangerous bat in Boston's lineup. Ortiz could play 1B, but that would sacrifice defense and either way it will give the Cardinals a bigger edge at Busch Stadium than the Red Sox have at Fenway Park.
Each team has had a breakout star at the forefront of their pitching staffs during the postseason, as Koju Ueahara has been Mariano like for the Red Sox, saving three games and winning another as he was named ALCS MVP. Uehaara was an afterthought in the Red Sox bullpen at the start of the season, as he was signed to be a middle reliever. However, after injuries to Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey, the 39 year old Uehara was thrust into the closer role and became unhittable, at one point retiring 37 straight batters as His 2013 WHIP of 0.57 in 74.1 innings set the record for a pitcher with 50 or more innings pitched. The Cardinals breakout star is a name fans will be saying for years to come, Michael Wacha. In a continued example of the Cardinals excellence at finding new young talent, the Cardinals picked Michael Wacha in the 2012 MLB Draft with the 19th overall pick that original belonged to the Los Angeles Angels, but went over to the Cardinals as compensation for Albert Pujols. No pitcher has been more dominant in the last month than Michael Wacha, as he nearly threw a no hitter in his final start of the regular season, and again allowed no hits until the seventh inning of his first postseason in the NLDS. That Game 4 start against the Pittsburgh Pirates came with the Cards facing elimination at PNC Park. In the NLCS, Wacha was even better twice opposing Clayton Kershaw and allowing no runs, as he was named NLCS MVP. Just 22 and with 15 games to his career, the 6'6" Wacha could be the next ace in St. Louis as he has already showed an amazing tenacity in big postseason games.
With Michael Wacha at the forefront of their staff, the Cardinals have the slight starting pitching edge, while the Red Sox thanks to Koji Uehara have the bullpen edge. Up and down the lineup you can go back and forth at nearly every position, as the Cardinals have clear edges at Catcher with Yadier Molina, LF with Matt Holliday and 3B with David Freese. The Red Sox have edges at 1B with Mike Napoli, 2B Dustin Pedroia and CF with Jacoby Ellsbury, while both teams are even at Shortstop. Right Field is a bit of a toss-up with Carlos Beltran and Shane Victorino each being key to their teams in different ways. However, Carlos Beltran's postseason experience and ability to get the big hit gives another edge to the Cardinals and this could end up being a big edge before the series is over.
The Red Sox in their two recent World Series victories in 2004 and 2007 enjoyed rather easy four game sweeps, while the Cardinals are more battle tested. In their 2011 run to the World Series the Cardinals faced elimination four times, including Game 6 of the World Series when twice they were down to their final out. Overall the Cardinals are 8-1 since 2011 when facing elimination; winning three win or go home games on the road. This includes a 2011 NLDS game in Philadelphia against Roy Halladay, the first ever Wild Card Game in Atlanta and a comeback for the ages in Washington during the 2012 NLDS. The Cardinals already won a do or die game in Pittsburgh this year, and have an almost next man up ability to come up with all sorts of heroes when it is needed most. This is why the Cardinals for the second time in their history will win a World Series Game 7 at Fenway Park, as the Red Sox and Cardinals stage another classic in October.
World Series MVP: Yadier Molina Cardinals