BOSTON -- As the stage became larger, so did the contributions of six Cardinals rookie pitchers.
That the Cardinals enter the World Series with young, fearless and talented arms is a credit to their scouting and player development departments and coaching staff.
But the maturity of the youngsters will be put to the ultimate test starting Wednesday night against a patient and productive Red Sox lineup in Game 1 of the World Series at Fenway Park.
In addition to finishing second in the American League with a .277 batting average, the Red Sox stole 123 bases and were caught only 19 times during the regular season.
Their knack for working deep counts and disrupting the rhythm of the pitchers will be a test, especially for the Cardinals' rookie pitchers.
"We have enough good hitters, and they know when a pitcher is in a good tempo," Red Sox hitting coach Greg Colbrunn said. "There have been a couple of times over the course of a season where a starting pitcher will have a long inning, and our hitters know that. It's just watching the game and being in tune with what's going on in the game.
"You take your time getting into the box. That's what all good hitters do. You notice (an opposing pitcher) is getting into a good rhythm. Don't let him get into a good rhythm. Step out and try to mess up (the timing). We watch the game and see how we're going over our at-bats. That's one thing we're good at."
Colbrunn said the Red Sox have a purpose for their lengthy games.
"I know we play the longest games, but we also grind out pitches per at-bats," Colbrunn said. "We don't go out on purpose trying to have a 31/2-hour game, but it's the way the game dictates."
The challenge for Game 2 starter Michael Wacha and fellow rookies Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness and Shelby Miller (who have combined for a 1.10 postseason ERA) will be to keep their poise while the pesky Red Sox hitters try to chip away in various manners.
"You have to make effective pitches and try to let your defense play behind you," said Wacha, who has allowed one run in 21 postseason innings.
"There are definitely nerves going on, a lot of nerves and anxiety. When I get to the park on game day. I'm ready to pitch and don't like to stand around. You use it to your advantage. It has worked out well."
The best aid for the Cardinals' rookie pitchers is Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina, who has a knack for dictating a comfortable pace for his pitchers while excelling at blocking pitches and throwing out base-stealers.
"He's one of the best in the game at game management," Cardinals pitching coach Derek Lilliquist said. "It's the feeling of what that (pitcher) is feeling. He knows in terms of reading swings, balance and timing."
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