Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, a noted master of baseball detail, said a lack of first-hand knowledge of the Texas Rangers bothered him heading into Wednesday's opening game of the World Series in St. Louis.
Through a quirk of interleague scheduling and the distance between their spring training camps, the teams have not played against one another in seven years.
It's a real issue for us, La Russa told reporters during Tuesday's workout day at Busch Stadium.
But I think it's the same issue knowing Ron (Texas manager Washington) some and (pitching coach) Mike Maddux and (bench coach) Jackie Moore, he added.
You can take reports, you can take video, you can take comments from players who have seen us play or whatever, but the best preparation you have is to actually be in competition and watch the way guys respond, and neither one of us have that.
So we're at the same place. It's a little uncomfortable, but it's uncomfortable for both, I think.
Chris Carpenter, who takes the mound for St. Louis in Game One, said the Cardinals were going from one extreme to the other after battling NL Central division foes Milwaukee in the league championship series.
The Cardinals split 18 meetings with the Brewers during the regular season before going six games in the NLCS to claim the pennant.
Carpenter, the only St. Louis starter to last five innings during the NL Championship Series, thought the lack of familiarity could help Cardinals pitchers go deeper into games against Texas.
I think we can be more consistent pitching, count-wise, getting quick outs, he speculated.
I think against the Brewers team, as many times as we faced them, as much as we know about them and they know about us, I think the deeper you got into a game, you could see that it was kind of running out of ideas.
La Russa leaned heavily on his bullpen, relying on his relievers to throw more innings than his starting pitchers.
That's what makes Tony so great, said Carpenter. He can recognize that and make the moves that he did.
Carpenter said building a strategy against the Rangers, who clinched the American League pennant with a 15-5 bashing of the Detroit Tigers, could be tricky.
We'll come up with a game plan, and you've got to make pitches. It's who's going to be able to execute the most, he said.
Not only that, but hopefully when you make good quality executed pitches, these guys, that are obviously really good hitters, don't do damage with them.
They're supposed to do damage with the ones that aren't good. You've got to keep them off the ones that are good.