The Cardinals (1-0) will look to take a 2-0 lead over the Texas Rangers (0-1) before the series shifts to Arlington for 3 games. The Thursday evening first pitch marks the second-ever meeting between these two franchises in St. Louis, and could be the last if the series concludes at Rangers Ballpark. Eight of the last 10 World Champions have taken Game 1 of the Fall Classic on their way to winning.
Looking at the Cardinals:
Winning the first game of a series this postseason was something new for the Cardinals, but so was playing the opening game at Busch Stadium. Facing an AL team, the Redbirds have to win at their own NL game like Lance Berkman reiterated following the club’s 3-2 win. Plus, manager Tony La Russa’s decisions have been terrific along with the execution by the players. His move of lifting Chris Carpenter in the bottom of the sixth to bat Allen Craig was just one of they key moves that paid off for the manager and his ball club.
The Cardinals scoring the eventual winning run in the bottom of the sixth on Craig’s pinch-hit single was just the third time during the entire postseason they have taken a lead that late in the game. That did not occur in any of their wins during the NLCS against the Milwaukee Brewers, but did happen twice in the NLDS against the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 2 and 4.
Finally another quality start from the starting rotation for the Cardinals, but it would be extra nice to see someone else besides Chris Carpenter accomplish that goal. If not, the bullpen seems to have picked up right where they left off in the NLCS. Besides Fernando Salas getting into jam in the seventh that Marc Rzepczynski bailed him out of with 2 strikes outs, the relievers shut the Rangers down over the last 3.0 innings.
Looking at the Rangers:
The NL portion of the World Series was not a booming start for the Rangers, but the high-scoring offense is capable of exploding at any time even without a designated-hitter. Texas did not make any major mistakes in Game 1, but simply got beat, as manager Ron Washington said, by not taking advantage of opportunities.
Expect Texas to be patient and disciplined like they were in Game 1, but this time against Jaime Garcia who tends to occasionally leave a pitch up in the zone from time to time. Getting Ian Kinsler plus Elvis Andrus on base ahead of the big hitters will continue to be key. Even though Kinsler got thrown out by Yadier Molina in the first inning on Wednesday, do not expect Ron Washington to change his club’s game plan of being active on the bases. Going 0-5 with runners in scoring position and not having a pinch-hit since September 13 are two areas that will have to improve, especially if they want to win a NL game before going back to Texas.
Having your starter give up seven free passes (6 walks and one hit by pitch) never works well. It’s one thing if a ball club is hitting the ball everywhere, but then at least your defense is there to try to make plays. Like the Cardinals, the Rangers bullpen is also pitching very well. Before Alexi Ogando gave up the eventual game-winning hit, he look to own Allen Craig at the plate blowing fastballs by him. After that, Ogando, Mike Gonzalez, and Scott Feldman allowed just one more baserunner.
LHP Jaime Garcia (0-2, 5.74) vs. RHP Colby Lewis (1-1, 3.86)
– Jaime Garcia showed a lot of improvement after his disappointing in Game 1 of the NLCS and will need to show the same kind of confidence when me make his first career World Series start. Garcia, who was born in Reynosa, Mexico, will be the first Mexican to start a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981. Though he went just 4.1 innings in Game 5, he allowed just one earned run on 7 hits while tallying 5 strike outs. With a 9-4 record, 2.55 ERA, and a .230 opponent batting average in 15 starts at Busch Stadium during the regular season, this is clearly an edge that Tony La Russa chose to exploit. However, if not sharp or showing signs of trouble, the Redbird’s manager will not think twice in pulling the young lefty. La Russa did say that Edwin Jackson would be available if needed, or he could use Jake Westbrook.
– Colby Lewis will make his second career World Series start and third outing this postseason. After a strong 6.0 inning performance in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Lewis was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers for 4 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 home runs over 5.2 innings in Game 3 of the NLCS. Formally of Japan’s Central League, the former first round pick in 1999 worked his way back to the majors in 2010 with the Rangers and has gone 26-23 with a 3.95 ERA over the past two seasons. Though the opposite last season, Lewis has been a better road pitcher for his ball club going 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA over 17 starts. His biggest problem this season was giving up 35 home runs to lead the AL, and he’s allowed three in both postseason starts. Lewis has seen a handful of Cardinals hitters, and has had most success against Lance Berkman who is 0-7 with 4 strike outs.
Players to watch:
– Matt Holliday got his first World Series win on Wednesday night. He had been there in 2007 with the Colorado Rockies, but they were swept by the Boston Red Sox. In Game 1, Holliday had a big double to set up Lance Berkman’s 2-run single to put the Cardinals on top for the eighth consecutive game. He did make good contact on a line out later in the game, but did have a big ground ball double play to end the threat in the fifth that was came after an intentional walk to Albert Pujols. Unless the Rangers are comfortably in control, do not expect Pujols to see any pitches. Holliday, who will probably continue to bat in the clean-up spot, has swung the bat well over his last 4 games going 8-17 with 3 RBI’s and 5 runs scored.
– Josh Hamilton, the 2010 AL MVP, look to be getting more into groove at the end of the ALCS tallying 3 hits, 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored in the final 2 games. However, he did not look great at the plate on Wednesday going 0-4 with a strike out and one man left one base. Hamilton, who has lost some power, has been playing with a nagging groin strain that he said has only allowed to him to play at fifty percent. With every swing in Game 1, Hamilton did not look physically comfortable. He has not gone deep in 62 at-bats and is only batting .266 during the postseason. This will be his first time facing Jaime Garcia.
Tune into KMOX 1120 AM for the Dobbs Tire and Auto Center Pregame Show on Wednesday at 5:00pm. The Missouri Lottery Post-game Show will follow each game of the 107th World Series with complete coverage.
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