BOSTON — Cardinals or Red Sox? The spirit of St. Louis’ seven-game nailbiters in 1946 and 1967 or Boston’s historic sweep in 2004?
Having the teams with the best record in each league get to the World Series makes for a pretty fascinating matchup in two incredible baseball towns.
In some ways, it’s pretty unbelievable to think the Red Sox even got here. They batted just .202 in the ALCS against Detroit, the sixth-lowest all-time for a winning team and the lowest for one since 1997.
Boston pretty much advanced on three swings -- the grand slams by David Ortiz and Shane Victorino that turned around Games Two and Six and the solo shot by Mike Napoli that produced a 1-0 win over Justin Verlander in Game Three. The Tigers simply couldn’t get out of their own way at times in the field and on the bases, and their bullpen was a failure.
The Red Sox work counts like fiends. They don’t care if they strike out if it helps chip away at a pitcher’s stamina. It drives opponents crazy. And they take the extra base all the time. The beards are a nice gimmick but these guys are dirtballs of the utmost, and that’s said in only the most complimentary of ways. You want a team that plays hard, you look first to Boston.
The Cardinals have plenty of youth, especially in their bullpen, but have several guys back from the 2011 club that pulled off the Game Six miracle against Texas and then won the title in Game Seven. And they have the best all-around catcher in the game in Yadier Molina, who will severely neutralize the way Boston likes to take bases.
The pitching matchups are fascinating and the bullpens are terrific. Expect a ton more of the low-scoring games that have become common in the postseason.
My X-factor is this point: The Red Sox won’t be facing the Tigers’ bullpen anymore. When the Cardinals get a lead, Boston isn’t coming back. The pick here is St. Louis in six.
— Mike Harrington