The World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals, which starts Wednesday night at Fenway Park, will be a rematch from 2004. But only two players are still with the teams.
David Ortiz is the last Red Sox player remaining from the curse-busting 2004 Red Sox who swept St. Louis in four games.
“It’s kind of crazy, but nobody else is left,” the 37-year-old Ortiz said Saturday night. “I’m glad I’m still here for this team. This is a great group of guys.”
For the Cardinals, only catcher Yadier Molina is left. Molina was a 22-year-old rookie in 2004. He played in only 51 regular-season games that year, but started twice in the postseason, including Game 4 of the Series.
The primary catcher for St. Louis that season was Mike Matheny, now the team’s manager.
The Sox and Cardinals will be meeting for the fourth time in the World Series. The Cardinals won seven-game Series in 1946 and 1967 before losing in 2004.
The Sox are 3-6 in interleague games against the Cardinals. The teams last played in 2008 at Fenway, the Cardinals taking two of three.
Bullpen to lean on
The bullpen was considered a potential weakness for the Red Sox when the postseason started. Closer Koji Uehara was dependable, but how manager John Farrell would navigate through the seventh and eighth innings was uncertain.
Now, 10 games later, the bullpen is one of the team’s strengths. In 32 postseason innings, Red Sox relievers have allowed three runs on 23 hits with 11 walks and 28 strikeouts.
Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow have successfully preserved leads for Uehara.
“I think coming to the postseason, there were a lot of questions circling around our guys to bridge it to Koji,” Farrell said. “And they couldn’t have pitched any more consistently, more effectively [with] what Bres and what Taz have done.”
Red Sox relievers pitched 21 innings in the American League Championship Series against Detroit and allowed one run on 16 hits with nine walks and 16 strikeouts.
Uehara was named the MVP of the series after saving three games and winning one. He threw six scoreless innings. Uehara is the first reliever to win MVP of a League Championship Series since Yankees great Mariano Rivera in 2003 against the Red Sox.
“The way I would sum it up is that I thought their starters were good. I thought their bullpen was great,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “I certainly don’t want to sound like I’m taking anything away from their starters, because I’m not. I thought their starters were good. I thought their bullpen was great.”
Rookie Brandon Workman has thrown 5⅓ scoreless innings in the postseason, impressive for a 25-year-old who started the season with Double A Portland.
Workman pitched 1⅔ innings in Saturday’s clincher against the Tigers, keeping the Sox down by a run and in range for their comeback. He also had a funny moment in the sixth inning.
With runners on first and second, Workman got Jhonny Peralta to ground to second base. Workman stood watching the play, assuming second baseman Dustin Pedroia would start a conventional double play.
But Pedroia tagged Victor Martinez, who was breaking off first base. Then he threw to the plate to keep Prince Fielder from scoring. Workman had to quickly get out of the way.
“I thought Pedey was going to drill me in the chest,” Workman said. “I hit the deck. That was a great play he made.”
Workman said the postseason experience has been beyond his expectations.
“You think about going to the World Series when you’re playing tee-ball as a kid,” he said. “I can’t explain how great it feels to be going with this team.”
The Sox struck out 73 times in the six-game ALCS, the most ever by a team in a postseason series. The record was 70 by the Diamondbacks in the seven-game 2001 World Series against the Yankees. Mike Napoli was 6 of 20 in the series with 11 strikeouts. Stephen Drew was 1 for 20 with 10 strikeouts. Every Red Sox player to came to bat in the series struck out at least once . . . The Sox have won eight consecutive World Series games going into Wednesday night’s game . . . Shane Victorino joined Jim Thome as the only players with two grand slams in postseason play.
Fox wins, too
Game 6 of the ALCS drew a 5.5 rating and 10 share for Fox. It was the highest-rated LCS game since 2010. The Boston market had a 31.9 rating and a 55 share . . . The Red Sox had Sunday off. The team will have a workout at Fenway Park Monday afternoon. Both teams will work out at the park Tuesday . . . The Red Sox, counting the postseason, are 57-29 at Fenway. The Cardinals, counting the postseason, are 45-41 on the road . . . The Red Sox did not play the Cardinals this season. But they were 14-6 in interleague games, outscoring their National League opponents by 64 runs in the 20 games . . . Farrell was asked about the Cardinals shortly after Saturday night’s game was over. “We’re probably going to take 12 or 24 hours to let this one sink in,” he said. “But watching them [Friday] night, they’ve got a fantastic team and a lot of young power arms that will walk to that mound. By the time Wednesday rolls around we’ll be prepared.”Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.