Major League Baseball (MLB) will celebrate the close of the 2013 season with the start of the 109th World Series Wednesday night in Boston.
Just looking at the numbers, baseball's ultimate stage pits two closely matched teams: the Boston Red Sox of the American League taking on the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League.
Historically, this will be the fourth time these two franchises have met in the World Series. Previously, the Cards beat the Red Sox in 1946 and 1967. Boston finally ended 86 years of "Fall Classic" futility in 2004, beating St. Louis in four straight games to take home a World Series championship.
The last time the Cardinals were in the World Series was 2011, when they defeated the Texas Rangers in seven games. On the other side, the Red Sox were last in the Series back in 2007, when they swept the Colorado Rockies.
As a franchise, St. Louis has reached the World Series for the 19th time and won 11 championships. For the seven-time world champion Red Sox, this is their 12th trip to the World Series.
The Cardinals and Red Sox shared the best record in MLB's regular season, with 97 wins and 65 losses. St. Louis defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League playoffs to get to the 'Fall Classic.' Boston took care of the Tampa Bay Rays and Detroit Tigers in the American League postseason to reach the World Series.
In terms of offense going into the World Series, the Red Sox scored 853 runs during their 162-game regular season. That mark was tops in all of Major League Baseball. Boston hit .277 as a team, just behind the Tigers for baseball's best. The Cardinals hit .269 as a club and scored 783 runs. During the playoffs, both teams have slumped, with the Red Sox hitting .236 and St. Louis .210.
When looking at the two pitching staffs, St. Louis might have a slight advantage. Cardinal pitchers had a team earned run average (ERA) of 3.42 during the regular season, improving to 2.34 in the postseason. Red Sox hurlers had a regular season ERA of 3.79, dropping to 3.05 in the playoffs.
The Cardinals will start 19-game winner Adam Wainwright in Game 1 of the World Series. He will be opposed by Jon Lester of the Red Sox, who won 15 games this season. The World Series starts at 8 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday and will be televised on Fox.