Cards wield pair of aces, wear look of live 'dog as World Series begins

A pair of aces is a tough hand to beat, and behind right-handers Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha, the St. Louis Cardinals ride into the World Series looking like live underdogs.

That’s how most bettors are viewing the best-of-7 series, which begins today in Boston. The Red Sox are minus-140 series favorites, down from the opening price of minus-150.

“We’ve been seeing mostly Cardinals money,” said Jeff Sherman, assistant manager at the LVH sports book. “I can’t fault people for taking the plus-money side. To me, it’s like a pick-’em series.”

The Red Sox and lefty Jon Lester are minus-120 favorites over the Cardinals and Wainwright in Game 1. The total is 7 at Fenway Park. Both teams finished the regular season 97-65, and the American League has home-field advantage due to winning the All-Star Game in July.

One obvious advantage in the series appears to be Wacha. The rookie is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in the playoffs, totaling 22 strikeouts in 21 innings, and he starts Game 2.

Wainwright has been nearly as sharp lately, posting a 2-1 record and 1.57 ERA in his past three starts. His next start could set the tone for the series, and handicapper Dave Cokin (SmokinCokin.com) called today’s game “absolutely huge” for the favorite.

“If the Red Sox go down one, they are likely to lose both home games,” Cokin said. “But I think this is a game the Red Sox are supposed to win. Wainwright can be had on the road.”

St. Louis has slumped against left-handed starters, batting only .246 and scoring 3.9 runs per game, so that advantage goes to Lester.

Micah Roberts of “The Linemakers” on SportingNews.com is going against the popular betting pattern and siding with the Red Sox, who swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.

“The way I look at Wainwright, last year in the playoffs and in key games late in this season, he wasn’t very good. I’ve soured on him a little bit,” Roberts said. “I like the Red Sox in Game 1 and to win the series.”

Contact reporter Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.