It's been nine years since the Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to bring home Boston's first World Series title in 86 years. The Cards have added two championships to their trophy case since then, but that doesn't mean they've forgotten the heartbreak of 2004.
Adam Wainwright, who has somehow never made a start in the World Series, will take the hill for the Cards in Game 1 on Wednesday and attempt to put a halt to another "Red Sox sweep" narrative right away. To take on Waino, Boston has employed a slight variation on the lineup it used in the last two games of the ALCS:
Everything is as expected in the top half of the lineup, but John Farrell has played musical chairs some with the bottom third of the order.
Rookie phenom Xander Bogaerts, who was 2-for-4 with three walks in his first two postseason starts, has been rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup for Game 1. The youngster was put in the nine hole for Game 5 of the ALCS, but has now leapfrogged his way up one slot in the order in his two subsequent starts. If this trend continues, he could be rubbing shoulder with David Ortiz by the end of the series.
Jonny Gomes gets the start in left with his platoon advantage against Wainwright. He'll likely hang on to left-field duties for the Sox -- even against the right-handed Wacha -- until the series moves to St. Louis, when Daniel Nava will be called on to patrol the larger outfield.
In the other dugout, the Cardinals have added a new weapon to their already potent lineup to take on Lester:
That weapon would be designated hitter Allen Craig, who has missed all of the postseason to this point because of a left foot injury. The addition of Craig should be a huge boost for a lineup that struggled to anything in the way of production from its bench in the first two playoff rounds. Without Craig, the club's viable DH options would have been Daniel Descalsco, slim and none.
There's no knowing how healthy Craig really is at the moment, but manager Mike Matheny must be confident in him to insert him right back into the clean-up role.
Like in Game 6 of the NLCS, Matheny has opted to bench the struggling Jon Jay. While Shane Robinson's bat is lacking, Matheny seems to value his defensive ability over the power that Jay can provide at the plate. Whether this will continue when the series moves to the more normal center field dimensions of Busch Stadium is unclear.