BOSTON — Red Sox Manager John Farrell was not ready to announce his roster, lineup or the order of his rotation for the World Series, except to say Jon Lester is starting Game 1 Wednesday night.
Farrell is still studying the Cards.
The St. Louis Cardinals present an interesting challenge for the Red Sox, because the two teams are so similar.
Both finished 97-65, best in their respective leagues. Both led their leagues in runs scored (Boston 853; St. Louis 783).
St. Louis pitched a little better (.3.42 ERA to 3.79).
A close matchup.
“We’re going up against a very complete team,” Farrell said. “Still in our own process of getting to know them.”
Here are a few facts Farrell probably already knows:
n St. Louis can pitch. The Cardinals lead in postseason ERA (2.34) and veteran Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha make a formidable top two in the rotation.
Wainwright (19-9) is 2-1 in the postseason with a 1.57 ERA. Wacha (4-1), drafted last year out of Texas A&M, is an astonishing 3-0 with a 0.43 in the postseason.
Closer Trevor Rosenthal has three saves in the postseason, a 0.00 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP (walks/hits per inning).
n St. Louis can not only hit, but hit in the clutch. The Cardinals led the majors in batting with runners in scoring position (.290). Leadoff batter Matt Carpenter features a .392 on-base percentage. Carlos Beltran (.296, 24 home runs) and Matt Holliday (.300, 22 home runs) are dangerous. First baseman Matt Adams has 17 home runs in only 296 at-bats.
n Catcher Yadier Molina has an arm. He threw out 43.5 percent of potential stealers. He also blocks nearly every pitch in the dirt and calls a pretty good game. He also batted .319 with 12 home runs this year.
n Allen Craig could provide an added punch if healthy. Craig, the Cardinals’ regular first baseman, has not played since Sept. 4 because of a severe foot sprain. But reports are Craig has been given the go-ahead to play.
Craig hit .315 with 13 home runs and he is Mr. Clutch, with a .454 average with runners in scoring position. With Adams playing first, Craig could be the designated hitter at Fenway.
THE DESIGNATED HITTER is a sore spot for Farrell. When the Red Sox play in St. Louis, they will not be able to use the DH.
Farrell said he will have to sit slugger Mike Napoli so regular DH David Ortiz can play first base and stay in the lineup. It weakens the Red Sox lineup they have used all year, as opposed to the Cardinals getting to add a player to their lineup.
“It is different for us,” Farrell said. “When we go to National League ballparks, we’re at a disadvantage than the reverse of that.”
But Farrell quickly changed the subject, not wanting to make an excuse.
“Regardless of where we play, it will come down to the same key – how that starting pitcher keeps the game under control,” he said.
THE LINEUP IS likely to be similar to the last two, which produced wins in the ALCS. That means Jonny Gomes in left field (over Daniel Nava) and Xander Bogaerts at third place (in place of Will Middlebrooks).
“Haven’t made out Wednesday’s lineup yet, but we can’t go away from the momentum that a certain lineup has provided for us,” Farrell said.
“Daniel Nava has not been forgotten. Same with Xander taking over for Will.
“It’s going to take contributions from every guy, which may mean a different role than they’re accustomed to during the season.”
Nava said he had no problem with Farrell’s decision, citing the team’s quest to win.
THE ROTATION begins with Lester (2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the playoffs this season), but who gets the Game 2 start? John Lackey started Game 2 in the ALDS, and Clay Buchholz Game 2 in the ALCS.
When Lackey pitched in the ALDS it was on 10 days’ rest and he looked rusty. Lackey pitched sensational in the ALCS on Oct. 15 (on seven days’ rest).
If the Red Sox go with Lackey in Game 2 on Thursday, they could avoid the rust factor, while also giving Buchholz an extra day. Buchholz, who pitched last Saturday, has been tiring early in games.
PLAYER DEVELOPMENT is a source of pride for the Boston Red Sox. Ten of the 25-man playoff roster came through the Red Sox minor league system.
Of St. Louis’ roster, 18 came through the Cardinals’ system.
“They are the epitome of what player development and scouting is all about,” Farrell said.
THE WEATHER forecast for Wednesday night does not look comfortable, with rain and temperatures in the low 40′s.
Bogaerts, a native of Aruba, began the season with the Portland Sea Dogs, where the game-time temperature was 46 degrees on opening day.
“If I can get through Portland, I can handle it here, right?” Bogaerts said.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: @ClearTheBases