BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox stole 123 bases this season, fourth-most in baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals, anchored by catcher Yadier Molina, allowed just 39 steals, fewest in the game. Those two strengths will be tested when the World Series begins Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
“It’s something I take pride in,” Molina said. “It’s a big part of what they do, but it’s important for what we do, too — stopping it.”
Molina, who threw out 20 of 46 would-be base stealers this year, has won the Gold Glove as the National League’s best catcher the past five years.
For his career, he has thrown out 45 percent of runners.
“His accuracy is amazing,” said David Ross, Boston’s backup catcher.
Even with all those attempts, the Red Sox were caught just 19 times — bringing the stolen base back as an efficient weapon given their 87 percent success rate. Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury was successful on 52 of 56 attempts. And yet they are wary of the Cardinals’ commitment, as a team, to prevent steals.
“He’s a shutdown thrower behind the plate, evident by the number of attempts against them this year,” Boston Manager John Farrell said. “But in addition to his ability to throw the baseball, their pitchers do a very good job with their unloading times as well.”
Will Molina’s presence alter the Red Sox’ approach?
“We’re still trying to get our arms around it,” Farrell said.
Boston, which will start lefty Jon Lester in Game 1, decided to reverse course from the American League Championship Series and throw John Lackey in Game 2 followed by Clay Buchholz in Game 3.
Lackey hasn’t pitched since Oct. 15, when he beat Detroit’s Justin Verlander, 1-0, in Game 3. Farrell said that “not allowing too many days of rest to get away from his previous start of his” was a factor; Thursday’s Game 2 will be seven days’ rest.
Farrell said the Red Sox will likely follow with Buchholz in Game 3 and Jake Peavy, tagged for seven runs in three innings against Detroit, in Game 4.
St. Louis Manager Mike Matheny would only say that Game 1 starter Adam Wainwright will be followed by rookie Michael Wacha. Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn have also started for the Cardinals in the postseason.
The Cardinals will make one roster change for the Series, activating first baseman Allen Craig and leaving Adron Chambers, who was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, out.
Craig, who led St. Louis with 97 RBI before going down with a foot injury Sept. 4, passed his final tests Tuesday and will serve as the designated hitter in Games 1 and 2. But Matheny seemed inclined to keep power-hitting Matt Adams at first base when the series switches to the home park of the National League team, where the DH won’t be used.
“Once we get back to St. Louis, we’ll reevaluate, but we anticipate [Craig] being able to pinch hit,” Matheny said. “But if he continues to progress and things look differently, we could make that change. But right now, we’re pretty happy with Matt Adams at first base.”
Adams hit 17 homers in just 319 plate appearances this year.. . .
The Red Sox kept their roster the same for the World Series.