In the ultimate slap in the face to Bobby Valentine, the Red Sox are in the World Series, only a year removed winning 69 games. They'll square off against the Cardinals starting this Wednesday, and I don't see how you can bet against them.
Boston has been the most consistent team all year. They hit pretty well at every position, have a good to great top-four starting pitchers, and with Craig Breslow and Koji Uehara, the game might as well be seven innings, as both pitchers have been virtually unhittable.
The Sox made a habit of getting no-hit for about five innings/game against Detroit, but still found a way to win the Series in six games. They got shut down against Max Scherzer twice, but the bullpen gave up a grand slam in each game, and Boston won both games. They also managed only one run against Justin Verlander, who was brilliant in the postseason, and won the game 1-0. I just don't see how you combat that kind of timely hitting and never-say-die momentum that they have been carrying through the playoffs.
The Cardinals have been impressive as well. They have also had some timely hitting, and were able to avoid a collapse after holding a 3-1 lead over the Dodgers, the way they did last year against the Giants. If not for the emergence of Michael Wacha, I would be even more confident in the Red Sox to win it all, but Wacha has been even better than Adam Wainwright in the playoffs, and deservedly won the NLCS MVP.
If Wacha can continue his recent success, then the Cardinals will have a good chance to win the four games they'll need to win with Wainwright and Wacha each likely to start two if the series goes long enough.
I think these teams are similar, with the Cards having a little bit better starting pitching at the top, and the Red Sox having a little more depth to the rotation. In tight games, though, you have to have a good bullpen to either stop the bleeding or to cling to a small lead, and the Red Sox have found a winning combination there.
As a Yankees fan, I will be rooting for the Cardinals to win it all, but I just don't see it happening. I hope I'm wrong, but objectively, I'll give the nod to the Sox to win the series 4-2.
[Editor's note: This post is by John Trifone (@JohnnyT0122), who also contributes at our NFL site: Eat, Drink and Sleep Football (see John's archives).]