Tag:Ian Kinsler
Posted on: October 22, 2011 9:35 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:04 am
 

Bad call, defense open door to huge inning



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- It all started so innocently. Albert Pujols hit a rocket single to left field, but that isn't really surprising. Then Matt Holliday hit what should have been a double play. Had it been completed, the Rangers would have been facing Lance Berkman with the bases empty and two outs, trailing by just one.

But Ian Kinsler made an errant throw and Mike Napoli was ruled to have not tagged Holliday. Replays showed Napoli was correct, and that it was a blown call by first base umpire Ron Kulpa. Also note that Holliday was knocked off balance by the tag, and fell down as he crossed the bag. He doesn't usually just fall down when running through first base.

Here's a good GIF, courtesy of SB Nation:



And everything came unraveled from there.

World Series, Game 3
Berkman singled. David Freese doubled in one. The Rangers intentionally walked Yadier Molina. It was 2-0 at the time, and a decent deficit could have been salvaged. And then the defense faltered.

Mike Napoli, a catcher by trade, was playing first base. Cardinals center fielder Jon Jay hit a weak grounder to Napoli, who made an off-balanced, errant throw to the plate, allowing two runs to score. Ryan Theriot then followed with an RBI single.

Just like that, it was 5-0 Cardinals through 3 1/2 innings.

There were three mistakes in the Cardinals' half of the inning. Two by the Rangers' defense and one by the first base umpire. It's likely the home fans will mainly remember the one by the umpire, but should realize their defense needed to have a better inning, too. It's also worth mention that Kulpa was the umpire at second who made the great safe call on Kinsler's big ninth-inning Game 2 stolen base.

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:35 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 2:09 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 2

Jason Motte

By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers came through in the ninth inning offensively and all game with pitching and defense. The result was a 2-1 victory, and the series is now tied as it shifts to Texas for three games. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Busch Stadium.

• "I knew there was a lot of talk about the starting pitching not being up to par, but I'll tell you, these last two (games), I think the starting pitching has shown what they're capable of doing." - Rangers manager Ron Washington.

Elvis Andrus' big single in the ninth broke an 0-for-8 mini-slump.
World Series Game 2

• "I've got to say those of you that have bad hearts, watch yourself." - Washington on the drama in the series thus far.

• "They caught a break with a blooper, but after that they did some good classic baseball stuff to make two guys come around and score. They deserve credit for how they played in the ninth inning offensively." Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

• "No, not really. You know, load the bases, that's a really difficult thing to do," La Russa said, when asked if he considered walking Hamilton in the ninth and keeping Motte in the game. "We thought we could get -- we had a chance to do something with Hamilton with Rhodes, maybe they score a run but they don't advance the other guy, and he did a good job. That's what I'm telling you, he pulled a ball, so he got a run in, got a guy over and Young did a very good job getting the ball to the outfield. I don't think walking him there would have made it easier for us. I think it would have made it tougher."

Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals was the first Mexican-born starting pitcher in the World Series since Fernando Valenzuela took the ball for the Dodgers in 1981.

Ian Kinsler, when asked about how safe he was on his late stolen base: "Enough. I mean, my hand just barely got in there. It took everything I had. Yadier made an unbelievable throw, quick, on the money, and I was just able to get my hand in there."

• Remember, the Rangers lost Game 1 of the ALDS and then went on to win five straight games over the course of two series.

• The Cardinals are 4-2 on the road this postseason.

• "If he tells me he can play, I'm putting him in the field. All I can say is I know my players better than you guys." - Washington, responding to the sentiment from some that Josh Hamilton shouldn't be playing.

• "Up and down our lineup our guys want to win ballgames, and it doesn't matter if we're down five runs or we're up five runs. We have the attitude of, you know what, until the last pitch is thrown, last out is made, we're going to keep fighting. You know, you can't really say why that is other than the character of the guys on our team." - Hamilton, on the Rangers' fight all the way until the end of the game.

• I walked right by Hamilton in the hallway after his press conference interviews, and he had a massive ice bag on his injured groin. He was laughing, too, so evidently he agreed that it looked hilarious.

• Hamilton on the current state of his health: "It is what it is. I'm tired of talking about it. I'm going to hurt until the season is over. You know, so it's a non-issue as far as talking about it. So stop asking me, please."

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 12:59 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 1:37 am
 

Grading Game 2 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- Another game, another chance to hand out grades (I was a student teacher once upon a time, after all). Let's dive in without any further ado.

The starting pitchers from both teams were pretty maligned heading into the series after a collectively brutal performance in the LCS round. Considering these two teams sport some of the most powerful offenses in baseball, we were going to see a slugfest, right? Wrong. Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia was dominant, giving his ballclub seven shutout innings, allowing only three hits and one walk while striking out seven. If he pitches like that in his second turn this series -- assuming there is one -- the Cardinals will have some real confidence in him. Colby Lewis also turned things around for his Rangers. No Texas starting pitcher had worked into the seventh inning this postseason until Lewis did so Thursday night. His final line: 6 2/3 innings, four hits and one earned run. It's worth noting he wasn't on the hill when his one charged run scored.

The Rangers' defense. Elvis Andrus was incredible, but an Ian Kinsler error could have really burned the Cardinals in the fourth inning. He booted a groundball off Lance Berkman's bat, meaning the Cardinals had a runner on base with Matt Holliday and David Freese to follow. That was absolutely playing with fire in a game where runs were at a major premium. Sure enough, though, the defense is what got them out of the inning -- when Andrus and Kinsler teamed up for a beautiful double play, keeping the score tied at zero.

The Rangers' offense. They were asleep for eight innings, and it appeared the lack of offense would send the Rangers home trailing 2-0 in the series. At that point, I had the Rangers' penciled in for an F. But the game wasn't over yet, and Texas did something no one has done in a while: Get to Cardinals (unofficial) closer Jason Motte. Kinsler's hit to start things off was a bit lucky, but that's how the game is played. Then, Kinsler showed some serious guts and stole second on Yadier Molina. Andrus followed with a single and consecutive sacrifice flies won the Rangers the game. They won with pitching and defense, but the offense salvaged enough in the ninth to get a C.

It's hard to blame Jason Motte for Kinsler's single, again, but Motte also allowed the big hit to Andrus and also didn't keep Kinsler on his toes prior to the paramount stolen base. "We steal bases on the pitcher," Andrus said in the locker room after the game. And he was right. Yadier Molina couldn't have possibly made a better throw, but it wasn't enough to get Kinsler. An out there likely ends any threat for the Rangers in the ninth, and sends the series to Texas with a 2-0 Cardinals lead.

Anyone who has read me regularly knows I often call Albert Pujols the best player in baseball, so keep in mind this grade is relative. It was an "F" game for Pujols' lofty standards. He went 0-for-4 and then made a pretty costly mistake in the ninth inning. He failed to cut off Jon Jay's throw home cleanly, and that allowed Andrus to advance to second base. That meant Andrus was able to get to third on Josh Hamilton's sac fly and then score on Michael Young's.

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Posted on: October 20, 2011 11:10 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 1:08 am
 

Rangers take down Cardinals, tie World Series

Ian Kinsler
By Matt Snyder


ST. LOUIS -- The Texas Rangers used a two-run ninth inning to knot the World Series at one game apiece with a 2-1 win.

Hero: Tough to pick just one here, because the Rangers' offense was brutal until the ninth inning. So, we're going to go with Colby Lewis. He didn't get the win -- archaic stat alert -- but pitched 6 2/3 innings of pretty good baseball against a great offense, allowing just one run. And that run scored off Alexi Ogando, after Lewis had been removed. This was the first time all postseason a Rangers' starter had worked into the seventh inning, so give props to Lewis for giving his team those innings. Credit has to go to the defense, too. And that credit is going to come soon, here on this blog (spoiler alert!).

World Series Game 2
Goat: The Cardinals' offense. You can point to Jason Motte, Arthur Rhodes, Lance Lynn or even Tony La Russa's bullpen decisions in the ninth inning if you want, but the offense needs to provide more than one run to win games against this Rangers ballclub. That isn't going to cut it moving forward.

Turning point: Ian Kinsler's stolen base in the ninth. He moved into scoring position and took the double play off the board, setting the tone for the rest of the inning.

It was over when ... Rangers closer Neftali Feliz recorded the final out. This thing hung in the balance all night for both teams.

Next: We shift down to a bit warmer weather, as the series moves to Texas for three games. Friday is a travel day, and Game 3 will take place Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. CT (note I put Central time because that's where both of these teams are located). The tentative pitching matchup is Kyle Lohse of the Cardinals against Matt Harrison of the Rangers.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 20, 2011 3:10 am
Edited on: October 20, 2011 4:12 pm
 

World Series Game 2: Garcia, Lewis face off



By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 8:05 p.m. ET, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Cardinals lead series 1-0.

ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia, who will start Game 2 for the Cardinals, had a 7.27 ERA in two NLCS starts. Colby Lewis, who will start Game 2 for the Rangers, allowed eight hits and four runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Tigers in his lone ALCS start. So both are looking to right the ship when they square off on Thursday night.

And both have reasons for hope.

Despite the bad start last time out, Lewis has been lights-out in the postseason, posting a 4-1 record to go with a 2.37 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in six career postseason starts -- yes, including the bad last outing. He also says he loves pitching in the postseason.

"I mean, I just -- yeah, it's comfortable, it's exciting, stands are packed, towels are waving," Lewis said Wednesday. "I mean, it's kind of hard not to get pumped up for it, you know?"

Meanwhile, Garcia has some pretty drastic splits concerning home vs. road. During the regular season, he had a 2.55 ERA in Busch Stadium while having a 4.61 ERA on the road.

"Of course, being at home with the home fans and like sleeping in your own bed and things like that," Garcia said Wednesday. "But I've said this a bunch of times before, where it doesn't really get in my head where I go on the road and I don't like it or I get frustrated or something. It's happened this year where I go on the road and it's a tough game. You have the battles on the road and the good ones at home. Me personally, I don't really see anything different that I do."
 
"But yeah, obviously I like pitching here."

World Series, Game 1
PITCHING MATCHUP

Garcia vs. Rangers:
It's a complete unknown here. Garcia has never faced the Rangers, and he has only faced Matt Treanor and Yorvit Torrealba -- neither of whom are going to start.

"They were the best team in the American League," Garcia said. "It's a tough team to pitch against. You know, just like a Milwaukee team that they've got a really good lineup, good team."

Lewis vs. Cardinals: He faced the Cardinals all the way back in 2007 and it wasn't pretty. Lewis allowed four hits and four earned runs in just one inning. His only decent sample against major Cardinals players is against Lance Berkman, and it's good news for the Rangers. Lewis has only allowed two hits in 13 at-bats against Berkman, with zero homers and one RBI. That's the only remotely relevant thing we can find in Lewis' history against these Cardinals, and 13 at-bats isn't exactly a big sample.

"I've never pitched here," Lewis acknowledged. "All the dimensions are the same, 60 feet, 90 feet, all the good stuff. I think it's just another stadium."

LINEUPS

Rangers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Jon Jay CF
3 Josh Hamilton LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Michael Young 1B 4 Lance Berkman RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Nelson Cruz RF 6 David Freese 3B
7 Mike Napoli C 7 Yadier Molina C
8 Craig Gentry CF 8 Nick Punto 2B
9 Colby Lewis RHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP


NOTES

• I don't really get excited about hitting streaks, but some people do. If that's your cup of tea, it's worth nothing that Cardinals third baseman, and NLCS MVP, David Freese has an 11-game postseason hitting streak. A 12th game would tie the franchise record, which is currently held by both Yadier Molina and Mike Matheny.

• Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday is certainly over his hand injury. In the past four games, he's 8-for-17 (.471) with three doubles, one home run and five runs scored.

• Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler is quietly pretty hot right now. He's eight for his last 20 (.400). 

• Rangers catcher Mike Napoli is having a huge postseason. Since going 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in Game 1 of the ALDS, Napoli is 13-for-36 (.361) with two homers, seven RBI and 10 runs scored.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 5:27 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 5:43 pm
 

2011 CBSSports.com World Series predictions

Since we didn't get it right the first time (be honest, you didn't either), here are the CBSSports.com updated World Series predictions:

2011 World Series predictions
Predictions
Brunell

Doyel

Knobler

Miller

Rosecrans

Snyder
World Series winner
in 5

in 7

in 7

in 6

in 7

in 6
MVP
Ian Kinsler

Nelson Cruz

Matt Holliday

Adrian Beltre

Albert Pujols

Mike Napoli

For more Eye on Baseball postseason coverage.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 2:50 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 2:51 pm
 

World Series relievers vs. hitters



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Both the Cardinals and Rangers advanced to the World Series with a huge hand from their bullpens, so both bullpens are expected to be used often during the series.

St. Louis manager Tony La Russa likes to use match ups to his favor, relying on stats to decide when to use a reliever and which one to use. Octavio Dotel's mastery of Ryan Braun was part of the Cardinals' NLCS victory -- Dotel had struck out Braun six times in eight at-bats coming into the series and the two faced each other three times in the NLCS, with Braun striking out all three times. While the Brewers and Cardinals faced each other 18 times during the regular season, the Cardinals and Rangers have only played three times in the teams' histories, back in 2004.

While some free agents have moved, there are still many pitchers and hitters who haven't seen each other, giving this a true old-school World Series feel.

Here's a look at both team's primary relievers against the most important batters:

Cardinals relievers vs. Rangers hitters
Rangers Mitchell Boggs Octavio Dotel Lance Lynn Jason Motte Arthur Rhodes* Marc Rzepczynski* Fernando Salas
Elvis Andrus N/A 0-4 N/A N/A N/A 1-3 N/A
Adrian Beltre N/A 5-22, 2B, HR, 8 K N/A N/A 0-1, K N/A N/A
Nelson Cruz N/A 1-2, HR N/A N/A N/A 2-5, 2B N/A
Josh Hamilton* N/A N/A N/A N/A 0-2, 2 BB, K 0-3, 2 K N/A
Ian Kinsler N/A 0-5 N/A N/A 1-2, BB, K 4-6, 2 HR N/A
Mitch Moreland* N/A 1-1, HR N/A N/A N/A 0-1 N/A
David Murphy* N/A 0-1, K N/A N/A 0-0, 2 BB 0-4 N/A
Mike Napoli 1-1, 2B 0-3, 2 K N/A 0-2, 2K N/A 1-5 N/A
Yorvit Torrealba 0-2 1-1, 2B N/A 0-1, K N/A 1-1 N/A
Michael Young N/A 3-12, 2B, 4 K N/A N/A 0-9, 3 K 1-4, 2 BB N/A

Rangers relievers vs. Cardinals hitters
Cardinals Mike Adams Scott Feldman Neftali Feliz Mike Gonzalez* Mark Lowe Alexi Ogando Darren Oliver
Lance Berkman^ 1-3, 3B 3-9, 2B, 3 K 1-4, BB, 2 K 2-6, BB N/A N/A 4-6, BB
Allen Craig N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
David Freese 0-2, 2 K N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Rafael Furcal^ 1-6 1-2, 2B N/A 0-6, 2 K N/A N/A 2-9, 2B, K
Matt Holliday 1-5, HR 2-5, 2BB N/A 0-4, BB, 2 K 1-2, BB, K N/A 1-4, HR
Jon Jay* 1-2, 2B N/A F4 1-1 N/A N/A N/A
Albert Pujols 1-8, 2B, BB, 3 K N/A N/A 1-7, 3 BB, 2 K N/A N/A 2-6, 2 K
Nick Punto^ 0-0, BB 1-5, 2B, 2 BB, 2 K 0-1 0-1, K 0-2, BB N/A 0-8, 2K
Skip Schumaker* 1-3 N/A N/A 0-2, K N/A N/A N/A
Ryan Theriot 0-4, 2 K N/A 0-1 1-4, 2B, BB N/A 0-1 N/A
* left-handed
^ switch hitter

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:24 pm
 

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


Talk about your clashes in historical pedigree.

The St. Louis Cardinals franchise began all the way back in 1882 (as the St. Louis Brown Stockings). After having just won the 2011 NL pennant, the Cardinals now have 18 NL titles and 10 World Series championships -- looking to add No. 11 in the next week and a half or so. The history of the franchise is loaded with Hall of Famers and transcendent personalities, and the city is often said to be one of the best baseball towns in the country. Manager Tony La Russa has been playing bullpen matchups since before Al Gore invented the Internet.

The Rangers' franchise, on the other hand, has only been around since 1961 (as the Washington Senators -- they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972). Prior to 1996, the Rangers/Senators had never been to the playoffs. Prior to last season, they'd only won one playoff game in franchise history. The only individual Hall of Fame plaque with a Texas Rangers cap is Nolan Ryan's. Sitting right in the middle of die-hard football country, Arlington hasn't exactly been romanticized as a baseball hot spot. Manager Ron Washington took his first managing job in 2007.

Full playoff coverage
Of course, history has absolutely nothing to do with this series. The players are the ones who will win this series, not the uniforms or any flags in the respective stadiums honoring the past.

The Rangers are now making their second consecutive trip to the World Series and there's no doubt they're a current baseball powerhouse. Anyone who watched Game 6 of the ALCS can attest that the fans are as great as anywhere, too, because Rangers Ballpark was rocking.

These two teams have lots of similarities, too.

Both lost an ace before the season even began. The Rangers lost Cliff Lee to free agency while the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to a torn UCL in his throwing elbow -- requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. Both offenses feature several power hitters while the bullpens got stronger down the stretch on the strength of midseason acquisitions and some roster/role tinkering. And both teams have been scorching hot for the past six or so weeks.

Sure, the Cardinals late surge got lots of attention and rightfully so. It's because they were running down the Braves from a double-digit deficit in the NL wild-card race. But check this out:

Rangers' September record: 19-6
Cardinals' September record: 18-8

Rangers' October record: 7-3
Cardinals' October record: 7-4

So if you're going to argue for the hotter team winning the series, you're picking the Rangers -- not the Cardinals. Since a Sept. 10 loss to the A's, the Rangers are 21-5. To put that in perspective, that's a 162-game pace of 131 wins. To reiterate, the Cardinals are playing exceptional baseball right now and deserve all the credit they've gotten for the huge comeback in the regular season and run in the playoffs, but let's not be fooled into thinking they come in hotter than their Texas-sized opponent.

TEAM INFORMATION

Texas Rangers (host Games 3, 4, 5*)
96-66, AL West winner.
ALDS: Beat Tampa Bay three games to one.
ALCS: Beat Detroit four games to two.
Manager: Ron Washington
Offensive ranks: 3rd in R, 2nd in HR, 1st in AVG, 5th in OBP, 2nd in SLG
Pitching ranks: 13th in ERA, 12th in K, 5th in WHIP

St. Louis Cardinals (host Game 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
90-72, NL wild card winner.
NLDS: Beat Philadelphia three games to two.
NLCS: Beat Milwaukee four games to two.
Manager: Tony La Russa
Offensive ranks: 5th in R, 13th in HR, 5th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 6th in SLG
Pitching ranks: 12th in ERA, 21st in K, 15th in WHIP

*if necessary
[Note: All rankings were regular season and for the entire MLB]

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN -- WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Catcher: Mike Napoli vs. Yadier Molina


Big offensive advantage to Napoli here, but Molina can hit, too. Big defensive advantage to Molina here, but we've seen what Napoli can do behind the plate this postseason. This is a tough call for many reasons. We're weighing Napoli's power stroke (30 HR in 369 at-bats this season) against Molina's ability to completely eliminate the opposing running game. Ultimately, it's a toss up between two really good players.

First base: Michael Young vs. Albert Pujols


Young is a very good hitter. A great one at times, including most of the 2011 season. He just became the first player in LCS history to record two extra-base hits in one inning. He's gotten some noise in the AL MVP argument. It's just that he's not Albert Pujols in any aspect of the game.

Second base: Ian Kinsler vs. Ryan Theriot


Theriot's a scrappy singles hitter who makes lots of baserunning mistakes. He's not a defensive liability at second like he was at short, but he's still not much more than just an average player. Even if Skip Schumaker can return at full health, the upgrade is pretty minor. Kinsler had 32 homers and 30 stolen bases in the regular season and is far superior with the glove. 

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Rafael Furcal


Andrus is a solid defender and base stealer, but not a very good hitter. Furcal has provided St. Louis a bit of a power-speed combo atop the order since his acquisition. It's a really close call here, but Furcal seems to be providing his team more of a spark at this point in time. Things could easily change by the second inning of Game 1, but we're going Furcal by a nose for now.

Third base: Adrian Beltre vs. David Freese


A healthy Freese has been a monumental boost for the Cardinals' offense, especially as Matt Holliday has dealt with some injuries. Freese was a really good hitter in the regular season and absolutely exploded in the NLCS. Beltre can match and exceed his firepower, though. Beltre had 32 regular-season homers and then went yard three times in the clinching ALDS Game 4 at Tampa Bay. He's also a great defender. Before the NLCS, Freese was underrated, but let's not overcorrect based upon six games. He closed the gap, but is still slightly behind Beltre overall.

Left field: David Murphy vs. Matt Holliday


When healthy, Holliday is an elite player. He's starting to look healthy based upon the last few games, too, so this is an easy call.

Center field: Josh Hamilton vs. Jon Jay


Jay isn't a bad player by any stretch, but he's out of his league here. When Hamilton can keep himself on the field, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league, and will also sell out his body to make a big defensive play (see Game 6, for example).

Right field: Nelson Cruz vs. Lance Berkman


We cannot discount the season that Berkman, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, put together. He was great, and especially valuable early in the season when Holliday was hurt and Pujols was struggling. But Cruz still almost matched his power production despite playing 21 fewer games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Cruz has been the best hitter in baseball, not to mention that he's a much better defender than Berkman. This one would be a toss up, but Cruz's hot hand pushes him over the top. Put it this way, Cardinals fans: What if you could trade Berkman for Cruz straight up for the series? You'd do it. Don't lie.

Designated hitter


The designated hitter for the Rangers is a mix and match thing. Young or Napoli can be used there, which would get Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. It's also possible Washington goes with Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in the outfield and uses Murphy at DH. So, essentially, we're judging the bench here. For the Cardinals, the smart money is on Berkman being used as the DH, which then puts Allen Craig in the outfield. So what we're really judging here is which offense benefits more from being able to use a DH and, oddly enough, the NL team here does. Craig is a much better offensive player than Moreland, Torrealba, Chavez or Gentry. So the three games in Texas will actually favor the Cardinals in this one aspect of the game, however small it is.

Starting rotation: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland vs. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse


Both rotations have good ability yet have been shaky at times. Holland and Garcia particularly struggled in their respective LCS'. Wilson and Carpenter both pitched like aces at several points throughout the regular season, but the deciding factor here is that Carpenter has shown he can carry his team in a big game. Wilson, meanwhile, is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz et al vs. Jason Motte et al


The fact that both teams won four of six games against their respective LCS opponents with zero quality starts tells you all you need to know about how good the bullpens are right now. The Cardinals' bullpen has significantly improved down the stretch, as Motte has stepped in as the closer -- despite not being "officially" named as such. Marc Rzepczynski has been a solid left-handed addition just as right-hander Octavio Dotel has gotten some really big outs. Especially after the NLCS, you have to say the Cardinals have a very strong bullpen right now. The way things have gone for Texas of late, though, it's even better. Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have proven to be an exceptional duo to bridge the gap from the starters to the potentially dominant Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz at the back-end.

Defense


Getting Furcal helped the Cardinals, as will being able to use Craig in right instead of Berkman when the games are played in Texas, but this isn't really a match. The two teams had virtually identical fielding percentages during the regular season, but that doesn't measure range. The advanced metrics that do measure range pretty heavily side with the Rangers here. If you just go by position, only at catcher and first base are the Cardinals clearly better. Everywhere else it's either debatable or definitely the Rangers.

PREDICTION

First of all, keep in mind all categories above aren't created equal. Having a slight edge at shortstop, for example, isn't near as important as having an edge in the bullpen. The position-by-position breakdown is just a snapshot at the different strengths and weaknesses of each team. Adding everything together, including the momentum and swagger heading into the World Series, the Rangers have a better offense, defense and bullpen. And while the Cardinals have been having all their happy flights, the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 23-25. The Cardinals' run has been a great story and nothing would surprise us here, but we'll go with the St. Louis run ending when it runs into a more talented buzzsaw. Rangers in six.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com