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October 22, 2013

World Series matchups: Sox in 7

(Continued)

Red Sox: David Ortiz

After his 2012 season was shortened by an Achilles injury, "Big Papi" bounced back with 30 homers, 103 RBIs and a .959 OPS at age 37. There's no better DH in the game, and Ortiz has a long history of clutch hitting in October — including his tying grand slam against Detroit in the eighth inning of Game 2 that swung the ALCS. The nine-time All-Star started six games at first base this year, so he can probably still play there when NL rules prohibit a DH in St. Louis. But that would put Napoli on the bench, a bummer for Boston.

Edge: Red Sox.

___

Starting Pitchers:

Cardinals:

The young staff is led by Adam Wainwright, a reliable ace who went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA and 223 strikeouts in an NL-high 241 2-3 innings this season. He's often at his best in October, too. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.10 ERA and 4 saves in 16 career postseason games, including 7 starts. He even helped St. Louis to a championship as a rookie closer in 2006, but missed the title run two years ago while recovering from major elbow surgery. The rising star is 22-year-old rookie Michael Wacha, drafted in the first round out of Texas A&M last year. He made only nine big league starts this season but has been almost untouchable since barely falling short of a no-hitter in his final regular-season outing. He went 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in three playoff starts, outpitching Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw twice to win MVP honors in the NLCS with 13 2-3 scoreless innings. Wacha gets the ball in Game 2, probably followed by Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. The back half of the rotation is where St. Louis could be vulnerable against Boston's deep and powerful lineup. Talented right-hander Shelby Miller, who had a 3.06 ERA and led major league rookies with 15 wins, was left out of the playoff rotation. He is expected to remain in long relief.

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