The last time the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox met in the World Series, Boston swept St. Louis on the heels of a dramatic comeback victory in the American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees. That was 2004.
Now, in 2013, the Cardinals finally have the opportunity to exact revenge on the team that swept them in convincing fashion. While predicting a sweep in either team's favor isn't a safe pick, choosing the Cardinals in five represents a much more realistic outcome.
To put it simply, it's hard to be overly confident in Boston's chances after its ALCS victory over the Detroit Tigers. The series didn't go to seven games, but three of the team's four wins were by one run and two of the four wins came as a result of late-inning grand slams from David Ortiz and Shane Victorino.
Boston may have clutch hitting on its side, but the consistent offensive attack of the Cardinals is much more reliable and will put up more runs against Boston's pitching.
The Cardinals, who won two games in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers by one run, exploded for nine runs in their Game 6 victory. They got contributions from all over the lineup and steadily pounded Clayton Kershaw—arguably the best left-hander in the game.
It will be interesting, though, to see if Carlos Beltran or Ortiz—two of the best postseason hitters of all time—has the better series. Whoever proves himself to be the more potent threat will likely lead his team to victory.
Beltran has been the better run producer thus far (12 RBI compared to Ortiz's seven), and that gives St. Louis the pre-series advantage.
In terms of pitching, the Cardinals were only slightly better than the Red Sox. St. Louis pitching allowed just 13 runs in six games, whereas Boston's pitching allowed 18 runs in six games. The key for St. Louis will be their young arms, though, and they are some of the best in baseball.
Joe Kelly, Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha will likely be dominant. Wacha, the NLCS MVP, will be the key to a potential Cardinals series win.
Wacha was unbelievable against the Dodgers (13.2 scoreless innings), and relying on him to produce on the game's biggest stage may not seem fair. But given the way he's pitched recently, it's hard not to lean on him behind Adam Wainwright as the staff's co-ace.
Boston is a well-built team with solid pitching and clutch bats up and down the lineup, but the Cardinals have the edge in this series. Their playoff run has been more impressive and their starting pitching is flat-out dominant.
This series will end in five or six games with St. Louis raising the World Series trophy.