Column: Red Sox have edge in ‘04 Fall Classic rematch
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 22:10
The Fall Classic is set. In a rematch of the 2004 championship, the Boston Red Sox will play host to the St. Louis Cardinals tomorrow night at Fenway to officially kick off the 2013 World Series. The Sox will look to reproduce the success of nine years ago; Cardinals fans hope their club can avenge the defeat this time around. In a match-up that should be predicated upon the battle of Boston’s line-up against St. Louis’ starting rotation, the two teams appear incredibly even going in. This one could go either way.
Boston rides on the momentum of a six-game ALCS victory over the Detroit Tigers. In a series where sluggish offensive production could have drowned the Sox, the impressive display put on by Boston’s pitching carried the team to victory. The bullpen was phenomenal through the duration of the series allowing just one run over 21 innings putting up a 0.42 era. Closer Koji Uehara recorded three saves and a victory en route to winning the series MVP. If the Red Sox can enter the seventh, eighth and ninth innings ahead their chances to bring home a third championship trophy in a decade will look promising. However, that will be difficult considering the starting rotation of the St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis pitching has been dominant all season. Little has changed through the first two rounds of this year’s playoffs. The Cardinals are led by 19-game winner Adam Wainright, who has put up a 1.57 ERA in 23 innings this postseason. The St. Louis starting staff posted an all around 2.57 ERA in 11 games this October. As mentioned, Boston’s lineup has struggled this fall. If the Red Sox cannot score off St. Louis’ starters they will be in trouble. Boston must allow its bullpen to inherit leads in order to contend in this series.
While cold as of late, the Red Sox have more than the ability to put up big numbers. Boston hit .277 through the regular season and put up a .446 slugging percentage to lead the league. The potential is there. That said, the Boston lineup must figure it out immediately. Three- and four-run performances will not secure victories against its World Series foe.
St. Louis has also been impressive at the plate all season. The Cardinals hit .269 in 2013, an average worse than Boston’s but still good enough to place them among the best-hitting teams in baseball. They too, have struggled throughout the playoffs. St. Louis hit only one home run against the Dodgers in the championship series and combined for only 12 extra-base hits. While the Red Sox starters are not nearly as dominant as their bullpen, St. Louis will still need to find the long ball if it hopes to beat the Red Sox this time around.
While Boston struggled to produce, its power still prevailed against the Tigers. David Ortiz’ grand slam changed the outcome of the series. Mike Napoli homered to lead the Sox to victory in Games 3 and 5 while Shane Victorino’s grand slam in Game 6 clinched the pennant. Boston has more power than St. Louis. In a series where most categories are split even across the board, the Red Sox have the potential to outslug the Cardinals. Add home field to the resume and Boston should win this series in seven games.