x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

A real classic in store as Red Sox and Cardinals clash in World Series

Two of Major League Baseball's most storied teams go head-to-head in the World Series

Koji Uehara has been one of the standout performers in the post-season for Boston, earning most valuable player honours during the American League Championship Series.   Jared Wickerham / Getty Images
Koji Uehara has been one of the standout performers in the post-season for Boston, earning most valuable player honours during the American League Championship Series. Jared Wickerham / Getty Images

Boston’s bearded band of brothers will go against the burgeoning talents of a remarkable St Louis Cardinals rookie class in the best-of-seven World Series, beginning on Wednesday at the Red Sox home of Fenway Park.

The two best teams in Major League Baseball, representing two of the most rabid fan bases in the sport, renew their rivalry in a fitting championship climax.

American League champions Boston and National League-winning St Louis tied for the most wins this season with 97 and led their leagues in runs scored.

“They’ve got a fantastic team,” said John Farrell, the Boston manager, “and a lot of young power arms that will walk to that mound.”

Mike Matheny, the Cardinals manager, said the Red Sox reminded him of his own club in critical ways.

“They’re about doing the little things right – about family, about considering each other and thinking about the team,” Matheny said. “Those are the sorts of things that ring real true with us.”

They last met in the 2004 Fall Classic with the Red Sox ending an 86-year World Series title drought with a four-game sweep of the Cardinals, who had beaten them in seven games in their other championship showdowns of 1946 and 1967.

Only one player on each side – slugger David Ortiz of the Red Sox and catcher Yadier Molina of the Cardinals – remain from the 2004 teams.

Power-hitting Ortiz and Mike Napoli helped carry the Red Sox past Detroit Tigers to make the World Series, while rookie pitcher Michael Wacha, 22, shut down Los Angeles Dodgers twice for St Louis. Both teams won the pennant in six games.

Roaring crowds of red-clad fans packing each home park should be treated to a highly competitive series from two evenly matched teams.

Boston’s key man could be Koji Uehara. The closer, named the American League Championship Series most valuable player, pitched six scoreless innings in that series, recording one win and three saves. An uncanny strike thrower with a devastating, diving splitter, Uehara has not walked a batter since early August.

St Louis boast a premier post-season hitter in Carlos Beltran, making the first World Series appearance of his 17-year career. Regardless of the outcome, the World Series winner will be celebrated for bouncing back from disappointment in 2012.

The Red Sox went from worst to first after a dysfunctional 69-93 season, achieving that feat in unusual fashion by dumping several high-priced players and replacing them with veterans who changed the chemistry of the clubhouse.

The transformation of more than half the club did not stop on the field, as Boston traded with Toronto Blue Jays to acquire their manager, Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach, who brought stability to the team.

St Louis looked poised to return to the World Series last season following a rousing seven-game triumph over Texas in 2011 before squandering a 3-1 lead over San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series.

They hope to make it two world championships won in the last three seasons.

4.07am (tomorrow), Fox Sports

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