ST. LOUIS — It came as no surprise Sunday when St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced that Adam Wainwright will start Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday in Boston.
"We love Waino on the mound," Matheny said after his players worked out at Busch Stadium. "He's our guy that we build off of --in more ways than just the production that happens on the mound. He's a guy that sets the tone for our club, especially our pitching staff. It's fitting that he would be out there."
Matheny did not disclose his starter for Game 2 on Thursday, although Michael Wacha is the likely front-runner. That would leave Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn as the Game 3 and Game 4 options.
Rookie Shelby Miller threw live batting practice Sunday, but the Cardinals said he will remain in his same role in the bullpen.
"We need Shelby to stay sharp in his mind because at any point we could need him to come and fill a number of different roles," Matheny said. "He looked good today. We're excited to see him."
The Cardinals have Miller, a 15-game winner, ready and waiting in the event one of their starters is knocked out early. General Manager John Mozeliak described Miller as being "insurance."
Lynn regrouped in the last three weeks of the season and after losing his only start in the National League Division Series against Pittsburgh, won two games in the NL Championship Series against Los Angeles.
"The idea for Shelby --and the conversations with Shelby since day one --is he could have an expanded role at any point, and he needs to stay sharp," Matheny said. "So we had an opportunity (Sunday) for him to see some live hitters and (gave) some live hitters an opportunity to see him as well. Everybody got a little benefit out of that."
Rematch of '04
The Cardinals hope for a drastically different outcome to this World Series than when they faced the Red Sox in 2004.
Boston swept that Fall Classic 4-0, outscoring the Cardinals 24-12. Three of St. Louis' top players, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen and Reggie Sanders, were a combined 1-for-39 with 12 strikeouts. Albert Pujols was 5-for-15, but didn't drive in a run.
The Cardinals, who won 105 games during the regular season, batted .190 in the series with just two homers, both by Larry Walker.
"Disappointing," Mozeliak recalled. "I think back to Game 1 (an 11-9 loss in Boston). That was an opportunity. Unfortunately, we could have won that game and we didn't. It sort of went downhill fast after that."
The Cardinals were without pitcher Chris Carpenter, who went down in late September with nerve irritation in his right biceps.
"That was one of the more prolific teams to ever be a part of --105 wins," Mozeliak said. "But to lose Carp toward the end of the season was a big blow."
Mozeliak expects the rematch with the Red Sox to be tight. The teams had the best records in baseball at 97-65.
"I think the good storyline is you have the two teams that have the best record in the game matching up in the World Series. I think that's nice," Mozeliak said. "A lot of times, it doesn't work out that way historically. But this year, it did.
"When you look at their club, obviously, they're a very good team. The way we always look at things here in St. Louis is we worry about ourselves. Obviously, we've got to play them. But if we play our game, we feel we have a chance to win."
Everything seems to be coming together for the Cardinals at the most opportune time.
Michael Wacha has been unhittable, Trevor Rosenthal has excelled as the new closer and Carlos Martinez is taking over as the eighth-inning setup man. All three are rookies.
The Cardinals took down the Dodgers in six games in the NL Championship Series, enabling them to get their starting pitching lined up for the Red Sox. And now it appears first baseman Allen Craig, who batted .315 with 13 home runs and 97 RBIs in 134 regular-season games, will be activated for the World Series.
"There's some things going all right, but we've got to stay the course and not get too far ahead of ourselves," Matheny said. "We'll take whatever comes --good or bad."
Matheny said the Red Sox enter the World Series on a high, too, after eliminating Detroit on Saturday.
"We also know that's a team on the other side that also won in Game 6 and feels pretty good about a lot of the stuff they're doing," Matheny said.