INDIANAPOLIS -- The final postseason series of the 2013 Major League Baseball season kicks off tonight with a showdown between the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals and American League pennant winning Boston Red Sox, both of whom feature players or coaches with ties to the Indianapolis Indians organization. As the best-of-seven World Series unfolds, Tribe fans can follow Derek Lilliquist and Mike Aldrete of the Cardinals, David Ross of the Red Sox and a handful of players who faced the Indians throughout their Minor League careers.
For St. Louis, Cardinals Pitching Coach Lilliquist appeared in 47 games with the Tribe in his final professional season in 1996. The left-handed reliever went 4-1 with one save and 51 strikeouts to just seven walks that year as he helped lead the Indians to a berth in the American Association League Finals. Lilliquist allowed only 15 earned runs in 52.0 innings of work, and his phenomenal 2.60 ERA ranked second among all Tribe hurlers who pitched at least 50.0 frames that season. He also concluded the 1996 campaign ranked first on the Indians staff with his 7.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio and third with an 8.8 strikeouts-per-9.0 IP ratio.
Aldrete, the Cardinals bench coach, suited up for 10 games with Indianapolis during the team's 1989 American Association Title and Triple-A Classic championship runs. Although the Carmel, California native hit just .129 during his brief Triple-A stint, Aldrete recorded a solid .308 on-base percentage with four hits and eight walks in 39 trips to the plate. He also turned in a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage for Indianapolis after appearing in five games at first base and five contests in the outfield.
Boston's roster boasts catcher Ross, who is the lone active player in this year's World Series to also see action with the Tribe during his career. In 2005, the backstop spent his final six games in Pittsburgh's organization donning an Indians uniform, before he was traded to San Diego for J.J. Furmaniak on July 28. Ross hit .211 for the Tribe from July 15-27, going 4-for-19 with a run scored, double, RBI and three walks. He reached base safely in three of four trips to the plate in his debut at Charlotte, and after going hitless in his next two contests, recorded a base knock in each of his final three games with Indianapolis. Ross also gunned down one of six runners attempting to steal.
Though never featured on a Tribe roster, a handful of players in the 2013 World Series also squared off against the Indians during their Minor League careers, including Boston outfielders Quintin Berry and Daniel Nava, St. Louis reliever Randy Choate and Red Sox starter Jon Lester.
Against the Tribe, Nava hit .306 (15-for-49) in 13 contests with Pawtucket from 2010-11 and Berry batted .281 (16-for-57) in 16 games with Toledo from 2012-13. Berry, specifically, may stick out to Indianapolis fans as outfielder terrorized Tribe pitching to the tune of seven hits in his final six games against the Indians last season. The slugger also broke up a potential Indianapolis shutout when he scored Toledo's only run in the Tribe's eventual 3-1 victory over the Mud Hens on April 8 at Victory Field.
On the mound, Choate went 1-0 in 15 relief outings against Indianapolis when pitching for Columbus from 2000-03, while Lester collected an 0-1 record in three starts with Pawtucket from 2006-07. Lester, the Red Sox's scheduled starter for tonight's Game 1, spun 4.0 shutout frames against the Indians in 2006, before he was later tagged for a combined 5.63 ERA with five runs over 8.0 innings in his final two career starts vs. the Tribe in 2007.
Lester and the Red Sox will take on the Cardinals tonight at Fenway Park at 7:30 P.M. The former Pawtucket standout is expected to square off against St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright, who went 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA (2 ER in 16.0 IP) in two NLDS starts against the Indians parent club Pittsburgh Pirates.