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World Series Game 5: Pitching is key
The baseball season is going to last a little bit longer than what we've become accustomed to.
With Texas and St. Louis splitting the first four games, it means after playing Game 5 in Texas tonight, the Rangers and Cardinals will head to St. Louis for a Game 6 on Wednesday and, if necessary, a Game 7 on Thursday.
This is only the second time in eight years that the best-of-seven World Series has extended past five games. The other was 2009 when the New York Yankees knocked off Philadelphia in six games.
There were four-game sweeps of Boston against St. Louis in 2004, the Chicago White Sox against Houston in 2005, and Boston against Colorado in 2007. It took five games in 2006 for St. Louis to knock off Detroit, in 2008 for Philadelphia to beat Tampa Bay, and last year when San Francisco beat the Rangers.
First, though, the Rangers and Cardinals have to deal with Game 5 tonight, which includes these five storylines:
St. Louis right-hander Chris Carpenter is the guy the Cardinals want on the mound in Game 5 tonight.
He has earned a reputation in his career for being a big-game pitcher, and has had particular success in the postseason
Carpenter has been on a roll this season. He was 9-2 with a 2.65 ERA in the final three months of the regular season, and pitched a two-hit shutout at Houston on the final day of the season to clinch the NL wild card for St. Louis. He also pitched a three-hit shutout at Philadelphia in a 1-0 showdown with Roy Halladay in the deciding Game 5 of the NL Division Series.
After getting a no-decision in his first start of the NLDS when he was asked to work on three days of rest for the first time in his career and lasted only three innings, Carpenter has won three postseason starts.
But then that’s not a surprise.
In his career Carpenter is 8-2 in 13 postseason starts, and his team is 11-2.
One batter Carpenter needs to be careful with is Mike Napoli, who including going 1-for-2 with a two-run home run in Game 1 of the World Series, is 4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI lifetime against Carpenter.
TIME TO SHINE
C.J. Wilson downplayed a 3-2 loss in Game 1 against Carpenter and the Cardinals, getting prickly when reporters mentioned that he issued six walks, one of which was intentional. Wilson quickly pointed out he didn’t care how many walks he gave up. His concern is how many runs he allows.
Well, Wilson would be advised to make a note of the fact that the more walks he issues the more runs he normally allows.
Consider that in the 19 games that Wilson started, and Texas won, during the regular season, he issued 2.60 walks per nine innings. In the 13 starts he made, and Texas lost, Wilson averaged 3.67 walks per nine innings.
Wilson won his first postseason appearance a year ago, working 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 6-0 win against Tampa Bay. He hasn’t had any success since. He is 0-5 in his last seven postseason starts, including 0-3 in four starts this year.
There’s a value to having quality pro scouting. Texas is a perfect example.
Four key players for the Rangers were definitely non-prospects not too long ago.
Outfielder Nelson Cruz, the MVP of the ALCS, originally signed with the New York Mets, who traded him to Oakland for infielder Jorge Velandia, and then was dealt by the A’s to Milwaukee for Keith Ginter. The Rangers eventually acquired him as part of a package for Carlos Lee, but even the Rangers left Cruz unprotected in the 2006 winter draft. No team, however, was willing to gamble $50,000 on Cruz so he remained with Texas.
Outfielder Josh Hamilton was selected by Tampa Bay No. 1 overall when he came out of high school, but his career was detoured with substance abuse, and he was gone from the game for three years. After his return, Tampa Bay lost Hamilton in the 2006 winter draft. He was selected by the Chicago Cubs, who had a pre-arranged deal to ship him to Cincinnati for cash.
And then there is Mike Napoli. The Angels were looking to dump payroll when they made the questionable decision to acquire outfielder Vernon Wells from Toronto. As part of the deal the Angels picked up all but $5 million out of the $89,187,500 guarantee to Wells for four years from 2011-14. As a result, Toronto took Napoli, who made $5.8 million this season, and outfielder Juan Rivera. Four days after the Wells deal, the Jays shipped Napoli to Texas for Frank Francisco.
And then there is Michael Young, who in addition to hitting cleanup for the Rangers has become one of the top team leaders in the game. The Rangers acquired him in July of 2000 from Toronto for right-hander Esteban Loaiza, who had been 17-17 with a 5.49 ERA in 64 starts with Texas.
With Texas left-hander Derek Holland strong-arming St. Louis on Sunday night and allowing the Rangers to even the World Series at two wins apiece, tonight’s Game 5 has become critical for both teams.
And both teams have a track record of success in the challenge they face.
Teams that have held a 3-games-to-2 edge in the World Series have gone on to claim the championship in 40 of 58 occasions. And for St. Louis the odds would be even better. A team playing Games 6 and 7 at home, which would the case for the Cardinals, have won the World Series in 20 of 26 times.
Tonight’s game is in Texas.
The Rangers are comfortable at home. Their 52-29 regular season tied with Philadelphia and the Yankees for the second best home record in the big leagues behind only Milwaukee (57-24).
St. Louis, meanwhile, was 45-36 on the road during the regular season, tied with Detroit and the Yankees for the second best road record in the majors behind Philadelphia (50-31).
And in the postseason, the Cardinals are 5-3 on the road, including vs. both Milwaukee and Philadelphia, which had the two best home records in the NL.
Odds say Texas will win Game 5.
The Rangers and Cardinals split the first two games played in Texas. The rubber match is tonight. The World Series moves to St. Louis on Wednesday for the remainder of play.
The Rangers won 17 home series in the regular season, lost seven of them, and split two.
And they finished strong. In winning 52 of their final 77 games, the Rangers went 30-15 at home, and lost only one home series, dropping three of four from Boston Aug. 22-5. Meanwhile, the had four sweeps (three three-game series and a four-game series), took two of three in six series, and split a four-game series.
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