By Matt Snyder
Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. Cardinals lead series 2-1.
ARLINGTON, Texas -- OK, so Game 3 gave us a bad call and an Albert Pujols barrage. That was it, right?
No, not exactly. For one thing, the Cardinals bullpen had to throw six innings while the Rangers was forced to work 5 1/3. With no off-days until after Game 5, a short start in Game 4 by either team would mean the bullpen is shot for Game 5. So it's up to Derek Holland of the Rangers and Edwin Jackson of the Cardinals to find a way to get deep into the game. Coincidentally, both have battled with command, control and inconsistency. They also both have the ability to completely lock down the opposition. Witness Holland's four shutouts this season or Jackson's 2010 no-hitter.
"Every now and then he has command problems, but when he's not having command problems, he's a quality pitcher," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Jackson. "Our hands will be full tomorrow. I think a lot just has to do with us trying to make sure that we keep him in the strike zone. If we go to chasing his slider and chasing his fastball up in the zone, it could be a long night."
Holland, meanwhile, is looking for more than just saving the bullpen. He's looking to atone for last season's debacle in the World Series.
|World Series, Game 3|
So, yeah, the emphasis is on the fickle starters, at first. But if they can't get deep into the game, relievers like Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, Lance Lynn and Fernando Salas will be forced into early action again. And, if that happens, the complexion of Game 5 changes.
Holland vs. Cardinals: Holland has never faced the Cardinals. He is, not surprisingly, far tougher on left-handers than right-handers. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that really doesn't help much. It does turn Berkman to his inferior side, but he's not a terrible right-handed hitter. The only left-hander that started Game 3 was Jon Jay. He was held hitless, but the rest of the team put up 16 runs.
Jackson vs. Rangers: He's 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in seven career starts against the Rangers. Control has been a serious issue, with 22 walks in 47 innings. Of the current Rangers' starters, Jackson has trouble with many of them. Ian Kinsler is hitting .333 with two homers, six RBI and a 1.122 OPS in 20 plate appearances. Adrian Beltre is hitting .429 off Jackson (14 at-bats); Nelson Cruz .417 (12 at-bats). In all, current members of the Rangers own a collective .328/.392/.517 triple slash line off of Jackson.
|1||Rafael Furcal||SS||1||Ian Kinsler||2B|
|2||Allen Craig||RF||2||Elvis Andrus||SS|
|3||Albert Pujols||1B||3||Josh Hamilton||CF|
|4||Matt Holliday||LF||4||Michael Young||DH|
|5||Lance Berkman||DH||5||Adrian Beltre||3B|
|6||David Freese||3B||6||Nelson Cruz||RF|
|7||Yadier Molina||C||7||David Murphy||LF|
|8||Jon Jay||CF||8||Mike Napoli||C|
|9||Nick Punto||2B||9||Mitch Moreland||1B|
|SP||Edwin Jackson||RHP||SP||Derek Holland||LHP|
• Holland's home ERA this regular season? 4.69. His road ERA? 3.39.
• Even though Ryan Theriot had an RBI single in Game 3, Tony La Russa puts Nick Punto back at second base. The likely reason? Punto is 3-for-5 with a home run in his career against Holland.
• Both pitchers have a penchant for piling up the pitch count, even when they get hitters out. There's always a chance either one -- or both -- is able to save the bullpen. It's just not very likely. Expect to see lots of scoring and bullpen innings again.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.