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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Cardinals facing long odds in World Series

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  • Heading into Boston, the Cardinals' back is against the wall. After taking a two-games-to-one lead in the 109th World Series on Saturday, St. Louis dropped Games 4 and 5 at home on Sunday and Monday. Now, if the Redbirds have any hopes of winning their 12th championship in franchise history, it will take St. Louis winning today and tomorrow at Fenway Park in Boston.
    "We are in that spot backed up where we had to have a win," Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny said following his team's Game 5 loss. "It's not something we haven't seen before and the guys know what they have to do. We have to play the game. They have to lock arms, trust each other and play the game the right way. Most of it is going to be the mentality of not buying into any kinds of stats, any kinds of predictions, any kinds of odds and go out and play the game."
    Following his Game 5 loss, Cardinals' ace Adam Wainwright said his team would be ready in Boston.
    "We will be ready to win two tough games in Boston," Wainwright said. "We have to go into Boston on their home turf and do the same thing they did to us. We have to win two games there."
    Is it impossible? No, it has happened before.
    "I fully believe our team can go into Boston and win two games," Wainwright said.
    In 1926 the Cardinals went into New York trailing 3-2 and beat Babe Ruth and the Yankees twice to claim their first World Series championship. The Redbirds turned the trick again in 1934, winning the final two games against Detroit on the road to claim the championship.
    In 1952 the New York Yankees turned the trick, sweeping Brooklyn on the road and did it again in 1958, taking two from Hank Aaron and the Milwaukee Braves on the road.
    In 1968 the Cardinals were on the losing end of a road team taking the final two games when the Detroit Tigers won Games 6 and 7 at Busch Stadium.
    More recently, you have to go all the way back to the 1979 "We are family" Pittsburgh Pirates team to find a World Series winning team that overcame a 3-2 deficit while winning both games on the road.
    "I think we have just the team to go in there and win two tough games," Wainwright said. "We have to win the first game first. It starts with that. We have a pitcher in Michael Wacha who we have great confidence in. He has been amazing for us this postseason and we don't expect anything less from him going back there."
    But is it probable for the Cardinals to win the next two on the road? The answer is still no.
    In the history of the World Series, there have been 35 series that went seven games. The last time a road team went into Game 6 trailing 3-2 and forced a Game 7 was the 1997 Cleveland Indians. In the history of the World Series, only five times has a road team won Game 6 to force a Game 7.
    Page 2 of 2 - History tends to favor the home team. Thirteen times the home team has won Game 6 and then clinched in Game 7.
    However, Boston has held this type of lead before.
    In 1986 the Red Sox were one win away from clinching the title, but were unable to win one of the final two games against the Mets. Of course, both Games 6 and 7 were on the road in New York.
    The Cardinals have been in a similar situation. In 2011 the Cardinals faced a three games to two deficit against the Texas Rangers. St. Louis won Game 6 with an amazing performance from David Freese and then claimed Game 7 to take the title. However, the Cardinals were the home team in both of those games.
    The 2011 season was not the first time Cardinals overcame a 3-2 deficit to win the World Series at Busch Stadium III. In 1982, the Cardinals won the final two games against Milwaukee to take the title. Of course, Games 6 and 7 were at Busch Stadium II.
    One side note is that if the Red Sox win tonight, it will be their first series clinching win at Fenway Park since the Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs in 1918. That series went six games, which is what tonight's game will be.
    If the Cardinals can win tonight and force a Game 7, history will be on their side. Of the Cardinals' previous 18 World Series appearances, the series went a full seven games 11 times. In those instances, the Cardinals won the championship eight times. Two of those World Series Game 7 clinchers came against Boston.
    "We have great confidence in our team and the way we are playing," Wainwright said Monday night. "Whether we won a game there or not before, we know we can go in anywhere and win some games. This will be legendary if we go into Boston and win two games. It starts with Game 6."
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