Home field a significant advantage for Cardinals

Home field a significant advantage for Cardinals

Home field a significant advantage for Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- In splitting the first two games of the World Series in Boston, the Cardinals effectively snatched home-field advantage away from the Red Sox. And now that they are back in St. Louis, the Cards believe there is a legitimate boost to playing the next three games at Busch Stadium.

That advantage isn't so much in the dimensions or how the team is built, as Busch Stadium is considered to play fair for both pitchers and hitters. Rather, players point to the fans and the comfort as the two biggest factors behind their notable success at home this season.

"To play in front of your fans," catcher Yadier Molina said, "that's the key, I think."

Only the Braves won more regular-season home games than the Cardinals, whose total of 54 set a stadium record. The club finished the regular season with seven consecutive home wins and is 5-1 at Busch Stadium so far this postseason. Go back even further and the Cards have won 26 of their last 32 games played here.

In 2006, the Cardinals won all three home World Series games. On their way to the 2011 title, the Cards went 3-1 at Busch Stadium.

"You're supposed to play well at home," Adam Wainwright said. "We have an advantage here, I think, with our crowd. They support us and back us better than anyone does. We just like coming home. We are comfortable here. We get to go home and sleep in our own beds. It just adds a lot to it."

Adding to the potential advantage of the Series shifting to St. Louis is the absence of the designated hitter, which will keep Mike Napoli out of the lineup and on the bench. Boston's pitchers went 1-for-26 during the regular season in their limited plate appearances during Interleague Play.

Boston is 4-5 all-time in postseason games played beneath the Arch.

"It's going to be an exciting atmosphere," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's going to be loud, and the guys thrive on that. We try to say we're going to go out and play the game the same way, no matter if there's nobody in the stands or it's packed with 50,000. And I do believe that's true. But you can't help but buy into the atmosphere, especially when you're at home and every single thing you do gets such a positive response."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.