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No matter opponent, Cards expect tough World Series

ST. LOUIS -- There was no way they were going to take the bait. As champagne sprayed in the home clubhouse after a 9-0 win on Friday night to clinch the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals were not about to say whether they preferred a World Series matchup with Detroit or Boston.

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"No, absolutely not," said St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, who figures to start Game 1 on Wednesday (airtime 7:30 p.m. ET, game 8:07 on FOX). "You never ask for anybody you never know who you're going to get. We're just excited. They're two tough teams, so we know we'll have a tough opponent either way."

That seemed to be the company line.

"They're both great teams," Cards general manager John Mozeliak said. "We beat a great team to get here, and there's no easy path, so we'll just enjoy a few days off and catch our breath."

The Cardinals have faced off against both the Tigers and Red Sox in the World Series recently. St. Louis was swept by Boston in 2004 and it beat Detroit in five games in 2006. During Interleague Play in the regular season, though, the Cards have not faced the Red Sox since 2008, and they went 1-2 against the Tigers in 2012.

Most National League pennants in LCS era
Rank Team Last Pennants
1. Cardinals 2013 7
2. (tie) Phillies 2009 5
2. (tie) Braves 1999 5
2. (tie) Reds 1990 5
2. (tie) Dodgers 1988 5
6. (tie) Giants 2012 4
6. (tie) Mets 2000 4
LCS era began in 1969

Regardless of which team the Cardinals face, they should have one advantage in that neither of the two American League finalists has had much of a look at rookie pitchers Joe Kelly and Michael Wacha, and Detroit has seen right-hander Lance Lynn just once.

As for Wainwright, the Tigers saw him in the 2006 World Series and have seen him twice during the regular season, but not since 2009.

On the flip side, the Cardinals are pretty familiar with Detroit's Justin Verlander, having faced him four times. Catcher Yadier Molina has owned the Tigers' ace, going 10-for-16 against him.

In addition, St. Louis got a chance to see Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez six times when he was in the NL with the Marlins. The Cards also faced Max Scherzer twice when he was with the D-backs.

Boston has zero experience against Wainwright, Lynn, Kelly and Wacha. Of the Red Sox's starters, the Cardinals have the most experience against Jake Peavy from his days in the NL. They've seen the right-hander nine times, and he has a 2.97 ERA against them.

The Cards have never faced John Lackey or Clay Buchholz, and they faced Jon Lester once in 2008, scoring two runs off him in 7 1/3 innings.

But, really, with the advent of video and the proliferation of advance scouts and every kind of statistic known to mankind about the tendencies of hitters and pitchers, does having experience against a pitcher make a difference?

"We're going to the World Series," St. Louis outfielder Jon Jay said. "So at this point, everyone is going to be good. To get to this point, you have to have good pitching, so whoever we face is going to be a good team."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

St. Louis Cardinals