Wednesday's Red Sox-Cardinals World Series Game 1 matchups: Jon Lester vs. Adam Wainwright

October 23, 2013 - 5:25 am

It's hard to believe that just over a year ago the Red Sox were in the midst of a seemingly hopeless situation, as the team posted a 69-93 record, its worst mark since 1965, and finished in last place in the American League East. Now, just one year and 172 games later, Boston will kick off the 109th World Series, as the Sox will host the Cardinals in Game 1 at Fenway Park. Jon Lester will get the nod for Boston, while Adam Wainwright will take the mound for St. Louis. This will be the fourth World Series between the teams, as the two clubs faced off in 1946, 1967 and 2004. The Cardinals defeated the Sox in seven games both both '46 and '67, capturing their sixth and eighth championships. In 2004, the Red Sox famously ended their 86-year title drought, as they swept the Cards in four games. This will be the first World Series since 1999 in which both teams finished the regular season with the best record in their league, as the Cardinals and Red Sox both were 97-65. Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA) will be the third Boston left-hander to start Game 1 of a World Series. The last two southpaws to be so honored were Bruce Hurst in 1986 and a 23-year-old Babe Ruth in 1918. Lester has answered the call as Boston's ace during the postseason, as he is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in three starts. In his last outing against the Tigers in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Lester was solid, allowing two earned runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings. Lester's performance this October has not deviated from his career numbers during the playoffs, as he has compiled a 2.35 ERA in nine postseason starts. '€œHe'€™s a front-line pitcher,'€ Boston manager John Farrell said when asked about Lester's impressive postseason track record. "This is a guy that'€™s a power pitcher. Power stuff wins in the postseason. He'€™s able to get guys out inside the strike zone and not rely on opposing hitters to chase or expand. Because of his physical abilities, that'€™s what allows him to perform so well in environments and in games late in the season.'€ This isn't the first time Lester has seen action in a World Series, as he was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching Game 4 in 2007. Just 23 years old at the time and a little over a year removed from being diagnosed with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, Lester was great in his start against the Rockies, pitching into the sixth inning and only surrendering three hits and no earned runs. Lester has only started one game against the Cardinals in his career, as he held St. Louis to two runs over 7 1/3 innings on June 22, 2008. Originally a relief pitcher for the Cardinals, Wainwright was moved up to the starting rotation in 2007 and has positioned himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League over the last few seasons. Wainwright has won 72 games since 2009, the fifth-highest mark amongst MLB pitchers. What makes this win total even more impressive is the fact that Wainwright missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Like Lester, Wainwright has been excellent this postseason, as the 6-foot-7 righty is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA in five starts. Wainwright's start on Wednesday night will be the first time that two-time All Star will face off against Boston in his eight-year career. Cardinals vs. Lester (LHP) Matt Holliday (6 plate appearances): .333 BA/.333 OBP/.333 SLG, 1 RBI, 1 strikeout Carlos Beltran (3): 1.000/1.000/1.000, 1 single, 2 walks Yadier Molina (3): .000/.000/.000 Matt Adams, Matt Carpenter, Adron Chambers, Allen Craig, Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, David Freese, Jon Jay, Pete Kozma, Shane Robinson and Kolten Wong have not faced Lester. Red Sox vs. Wainwright (RHP) Shane Victorino (23 plate appearances): .227 BA/.261 OBP/.409 SLG, 1 home run, 3 RBI Stephen Drew (21): .105/.190/.158, 1 double, 5 strikeouts David Ross (12): .182/.250/.545, 1 home run, 3 RBIs Jonny Gomes (11): .200/.273/.600, 1 home run, 4 strikeouts Mike Carp (3): .000/.000/.000, Quintin Berry, Xander Bogaerts, Jacoby Ellsbury, Will Middlebrooks, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia have not faced Wainwright.