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October 21, 2013

Watch out for Wacha

BOSTON — The Red Sox and Cardinals commence the 2013 World Series at Fenway Park on Wednesday (8:07 p.m. start). It’s a rematch of the 2004 Fall Classic, which Boston swept in four games.

Boston’s magical turnaround from 69 wins and a last-place finish in 2012 to American League Champions in 2013 has been quite the ride. But the Cardinals are tremendously talented foe, worthy of respect. The Red Sox have plenty work remaining to win this year’s title.

Here are nine facts you need to know about the National League champion Cards as they head to the hub:

1. Watch Out For Wacha

Michael Wacha is the man in St. Louis right now. The rookie right-hander, who is just 22 (exactly a year and three months older than Xander Bogaerts), was named the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Wacha out-dueled 2011 NL Cy Young Clayton Kershaw twice during the NLCS.

Wacha was 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 appearances, nine starts, this regular season. He has allowed just one earned run in three postseason starts (21.0 innings).

He throws a fastball, cutter, changeup and curveball. His fastball averaged 93.5 mph this year, according to fangraphs.com. That’s the same fastball average velocity of Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa for 2013.

He throws his fastball and changeup the most.

2. Molina Has A Cannon

The Red Sox have speed. Jacoby Ellsbury already has set a club record for most steals (6) in one postseason. Boston base runners have swiped 11 bags during the playoffs.

But the Cardinals have the major league’s best defensive catcher, Yadier Molina, who has won five straight Gold Gloves and has a cannon for an arm.

He threw out 43 percent of base stealers this season and is at 45 percent for his career. He has led the league in caught stealing percentage three times, including throwing out 64 percent in 2005.

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