ST. LOUIS -- With a 5-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday night, the Red Sox claimed the American League pennant and set up their fourth World Series meeting against the Cardinals, who dispatched the Dodgers one night earlier. The best-of-seven Fall Classic will open at Fenway Park on Wednesday night (6:30 p.m. CT air time, 7:07 p.m. CT first pitch on FOX).
Prior to that, St. Louis defeated Boston to win the World Series in 1946 and '67. Both of those Fall Classics extended a full seven games.
Now, for the first time since 1999, there is a World Series matchup that features two teams that finished with their league's best record. Both the Cardinals and Red Sox ended the regular season with 97 wins.
"A lot of hard work was put into getting to where we are right now," Cards ace Adam Wainwright said. "So we got one more series to win. We're trying to bring this thing home."
Second-year skipper Mike Matheny will be managing in the World Series for the first time after making one World Series appearance as a player. That came in 2004, which makes this an opportunity to take down a team that kept him from getting a ring nine years ago. Matheny is not the only holdover from that World Series roster, either.
Matheny's backup in the 2004 World Series was rookie Yadier Molina, now the rock behind the plate for this Cardinals team. Hitting coach John Mabry appeared in two of those World Series games. Chris Carpenter pitched in none because of arm trouble after winning 15 games and making 28 starts for St. Louis during the season. He'll be a spectator once again this year.
Third-base coach Jose Oquendo was also in uniform back in '04.
It was the World Series of the bloody sock, the one that ended the "Curse of the Bambino." Like this 2013 Cardinals team, the '04 club arrived in the World Series after posting the National League's best regular-season record and leading the league in runs scored. They had to take out the Dodgers along the way that October, too.
That World Series, as this one will, began in Boston, where the two teams combined for 20 runs in Game 1. The Cards scored only three more while being swept.
The Cardinals and Red Sox have met only twice since, with St. Louis winning Interleague series in 2005 and '08.
These two teams have each captured a pair of World Series championships already this century. Whichever club wins four games first will become the first in the Majors to win a third.
"It never gets old. It never gets old," Molina said of the Fall Classic return. "It's good to be in this position right now. Hopefully we've got four more games to go and finish strong."