Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: October 24, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 6:47 pm

Game 4 beats NFL in TV ratings

Mike NapoliBy C. Trent Rosecrans

There's nothing like baseball ratings to get people all worked up over nothing, so how about we turn the tables?

The NFL is dead!

That's right, because Game 4 of the World Series pulled a bigger national rating than the Sunday night game of the Colts and Saints, it must mean the NFL is dead, nobody cares about the NFL and Roger Goodell is an idiot and must be fired, right? That's usually the way the discussion goes anytime the ratings of World Series game or baseball game in general are compared to an NFL game, so it's only fair to overreact the other way.

Of course, I'm kidding -- sort of. The point Matt made the other day about not caring about the ratings is still dead-on. However, we've pointed out the doom and gloom of baseball ratings so many times, I think it's germane to bring up Game 4's boffo ratings. Derek Holland's gem brought in 15.2 million viewers, a 9.2/14 television rating for Fox. Meanwhile, on NBC, the Saints' 62-7 thrashing of the Colts brought in an 8.2/13 overnight rating.

There are plenty of reasons why the Saints-Colts game didn't get the high ratings -- no Peyton Manning, a 21-0 Saints lead after the first quarter, the fact that Indianapolis and New Orleans are small markets (the NFL has those too, don't they?) But it's still a Sunday night game in primetime, featuring two teams that have won the Super Bowl in the last five seasons.

Through four games, the ratings are down just one percent from last season, as the 2011 World Series is averaging 8.2/13 rating as compared to 8.3/14 through four games for last year's Rangers-Giants World Series. The predictions and pre-Series screams of woe had many expecting much lower numbers. 

The bottom line, even for what has become a football nation, baseball was a better game on Sunday and the numbers reflect that people chose to watch baseball. And no matter what the numbers are for one game, we're a big enough country to support both and be able to enjoy both. The people who find baseball entertaining watched a highly entertaining baseball game. The people who don't enjoy baseball, probably didn't watch. But to pronounce one sport dead because of one night of ratings is silly -- no matter which sport has the bad night.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 4:18 pm

Game 5 weather: Carbon copy

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Fortunately there's one game left in Rangers Ballpark, because the weather here has been amazing. Shockingly, Game 6 in St. Louis has rain in the forecast, but that's in the future. Let's concentrate on Game 5 and procrastinate on the gloom and doom for as long as we can. That's my plan, at least.

The picture above was taken at about 2:45 local time, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT. According to the Weather.com hourly forecast, we're set to have nearly identical weather to what we had in Game 4. We start with 79 degrees and a 10 percent chance of rain and by 10:00 it's still 72 degrees with a zero percent chance of rain.

So it's pretty safe to say the travel day Tuesday will remain intact. And then our focus will turn to how much weather will affect Game 6 (and maybe Game 7, should it be necessary).

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:46 am
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Posted on: October 24, 2011 2:31 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:06 pm

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 4

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The story was Derek Holland, but the Rangers gave a full team effort Sunday night in evening up the World Series at two wins apiece. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark.

Mike Napoli will get plenty of credit for his offense this series, and rightfully so. But I was thinking ... back in Los Angeles, Angels manager Mike Scioscia used to justify playing Jeff Mathis over Napoli on a regular basis because of "catcher's ERA." You know, the ERA of the pitching staff with a certain catcher behind the plate. It's one of the main reasons the Angels let Napoli's bat go. Napoli's catcher's ERA this World Series? 1.38. Yorvit Torrealba's? 13.00. Of course it's a small sample, but it's worth noting: The Rangers pitchers don't exactly seem to get worse with Napoli behind the plate.

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Something you didn't see on TV: The Rangers took the field in the top of the ninth inning without a pitcher for a while. Eventually, Holland emerged from the dugout and the crowd erupted.

• "I've seen it before, this was not the first dominant outing that Derek Holland had," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. Fellow starter Colby Lewis expressed the same sentiment in the locker room to a reporter who asked if it was the best Holland's ever pitched. People seem to be either forgetting or just ignorant to the fact that Holland threw four shutouts this year, including three in July. This wasn't the worst pitcher ever finding some magic out of the blue. It was just Holland digging deep and pitching to his potential.

• "If you wanna stay out here, you get on your knees." - Washington, on what he said to Holland when removing him from the game in the ninth. A complete-game shutout from Holland would have marked the first World Series shutout from an AL pitcher since Jack Morris in 1991.

• It's no secret Lance Berkman is a much better hitter from the left side of the plate, but it's been a different story in the World Series. He's evidently locked in from both sides of the plate. going 4-for-8 as a right-hander and 3-for-7 as a left-hander.

• "He worked us over, give him credit." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Holland's performance.

• The 51,539 in attendance were a Rangers Ballpark season high, and the seventh-most in stadium history.

• "I wanted to execute all my pitches, that was the main thing," said Holland. "I wanted to go after these hitters. I wanted to show that I belong here. That was the main thing, I wanna make a name for myself. At the same time, I wanna get momentum back on our side."

• "I was looking up, and I got a pitch up that I could handle," Napoli said of his three-run shot.

• "I thought it was a double play waiting to happen," La Russa said of bringing in Mitchell Boggs to face Napoli.

• Napoli became the first catcher with a multi-homer World Series since Mike Piazza of the Mets did so in 2000.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:55 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 4:55 pm

World Series Game 5: Rematch time

By Matt Snyder

Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. Series is tied, 2-2.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's rematch time. Game 1 pitted aces Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson against each other and ended up an exciting 3-2 Cardinals win. The two aces will square off again in a pivotal Game 5, this time in the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark.

Carpenter bested Wilson last time around, working six innings while allowing five hits and two earned runs. Wilson went 5 2/3, giving up four hits and three earned runs, but the six walks were a bit troubling. Wilson is only looking forward, though.

"I think you have to look at every start as in its own little bubble," he said. "There's nothing I can do to un-lose a game."

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Carpenter got the best of this matchup last time out, but the biggest part of that start could have been that he only threw 87 pitches, as he had reportedly been dealing with elbow soreness. Carpenter himself doesn't think that matters, though.

"I felt fine, and the pitch count situation isn't -- it doesn't matter -- I believe it doesn't matter if you throw 120 or 80, or whatever. It's the quality of pitches and the difficulty of the stressful pitches that you throw," he said. "There wasn't a whole lot of stressful pitches for me. It was a battle, but I was able to get through it pretty well, and I feel fine. I felt great throughout the last few days."

The starting pitchers are important, but don't discount the offense and defense. The Rangers have played great defense in their two wins, but pretty horrible defense in Game 3. The Cardinals offense was pretty dormant in their two losses. With aces on the hill in a great hitter's park, a true team effort is going to determine who heads to St. Louis just one game away from winning the 2011 World Series. 


Wilson vs. Cardinals:
Just as we've seen throughout the series between these two unfamiliar teams, the sample sizes are very small across the board. Wilson has faced Lance Berkman 21 times and held him down pretty well (.235 average, .294 slugging percentage). Otherwise, only Nick Punto has faced Wilson more than four times -- and Punto has a .667 OBP. Expect him in the lineup.

Carpenter vs. Rangers: His regular-season history against the Rangers is awful. Carpenter is 2-6 with a 7.26 ERA in those 12 outings (11 starts). He's 2-2 with a 6.99 ERA and 1.91 WHIP in Rangers Ballpark, too. A lot of those stats were accumulated a long time ago, though, because Carpenter hasn't faced any current Rangers starters more than 10 times (Michael Young has exactly 10 plate appearances against Carpenter). Adrian Beltre (3-for-5 with a double) and Mike Napoli (4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI) own him in small sample sizes, however.


Cardinals Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
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 Skip Schumaker CF 8 Mike Napoli C
9 Nick Punto 2B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B
SP Chris Carpenter RHP SP C.J. Wilson LHP


• Wilson is much worse in Rangers Ballpark than on the road. He had a 3.69 ERA and 1.23 WHIP at home versus a 2.31 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on the road during the regular season. Considering the more favorable hitting conditions this time around, things don't bode well for Wilson Monday night. Then again, games aren't won on history or paper. Just ask Derek Holland.

• Matt Holliday is now 2-for-15 (.133) with four strikeouts in the World Series.

• Adrian Beltre has now made five straight outs after gathering five straight hits.

• The only lineup change for either team is Schumaker taking over center field from Jon Jay. The move is very clearly due to Jay's major struggles at the plate this series. He's 0-for-14 in the World Series. Schumaker has never faced Wilson, nor has he ever batted in Rangers Ballpark.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:08 am

Grading Game 4 of the World Series


By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The "A" grade here isn't really going to shock you. But just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.

Derek Holland was just dazzling. We knew he was capable of this because he threw four shutouts this season -- including a stretch of three shutouts in five starts during July -- but we just hadn't seen it for a while. So Holland gave a refresher. He located his 95-mph fastball and impressively commanded his breaking pitches. It's funny, if you didn't watch the game, his line -- 8 1/3 innings pitched, two hits, two walks, seven strikeouts -- almost doesn't do him justice. But, if you did watch the game, and had never even seen or heard of Holland before, you'd have thought he was a Cy Young candidate. This against a Cardinals offense that obliterated the Rangers Saturday night. The best part was preserving the stressed Texas bullpen.

We'll go with Neftali Feliz here. He came on and walked Allen Craig, which brought Albert Pujols -- you may have heard something about his power following Saturday's game -- to the plate with two on and one out. That's bad. But then Feliz got a soft lineout from Pujols and struck out Matt Holliday to preserve the victory.

I've held off long enough. We're going with Ron Washington's lineup here. It worked out in Game 4 because Josh Hamilton doubled in Elvis Andrus in the first inning and then Mike Napoli came through with the big blow in the sixth. But, seriously, opposing pitchers have to be much more fearful of the Beltre/Cruz/Napoli portion of the order than the 2-3-4 spots at this point. Beltre didn't have a good game Sunday night, but collected four hits Saturday. Napoli and Cruz have to scare the daylights out of Cardinals fans with their prodigious power, too. Meanwhile, Andrus is being asked to bunt Ian Kinsler over in the fifth inning. Why not get to the power earlier in the lineup and give those guys more at-bats? Napoli batting eighth just doesn't make any sense at all.

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Edwin Jackson could have been much worse, but seven walks in 5 1/3 innings is pretty bad. He at least saved the bullpen from having to work as hard as it did following Kyle Lohse's bad outing in Game 3. Still, Jackson was so inefficient due to his lack of command that he couldn't get through six. And, again, seven walks. Man, that's bad. But only three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings isn't near as F-worthy as ...

The Cardinals offense followed up a historic performance in Game 3 by being shut down. I'd particularly shine the flashlight on Pujols and Holliday. The duo of All-Stars is among the best 3-4 combos in baseball, but they combined to go 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and four men left on base in Game 4. This came against a left-hander, too, who is much worse against righties than lefties. The entire offense -- other than Lance Berkman, who gathered the Cardinals' only two hits -- deserves an F here, but the big names need to be held the most accountable.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:57 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:07 am

Resilient Rangers never lose two in a row

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If you're a gambler, here's a good tip: Bet on the Rangers in the next game after a loss. Upon completely handcuffing the Cardinals for a 4-0 victory in Game 4 of the World Series, the Rangers have now played 44 times since last losing consecutive games. They lost to the Red Sox on August 27, which was their third loss in a row. Since then, the Rangers have gone 31-13 and have yet to drop two straight in that span.

So what's the secret? Maybe it's just having no clue about this little "streak."

“I didn’t know that," said Game 3 starter Matt Harrison.

"No, I didn't know that," said Game 2 starter Colby Lewis. “I definitely don’t worry about stats, the only time I hear about stats is when you guys come up and report them to me.”

World Series
Of course, not everyone is unaware.

“Yeah, we’ve been told about it a lot over the past few weeks by you guys," Michael Young said, drawing laughs.

So it can't be blind ignorance to the "streak." Maybe it's the ability to have a short memory?

“The good players are the ones who turn the page and forget what happened in the past," second baseman Ian Kinsler offered up.

Maybe it's making adjustments?

“We’re good at making adjustments; we’re good at turning the page," Young said. “People talk about turning the page a lot, but the biggest thing is making sure you don’t completely forget it, because you gotta learn from it. So if you gotta make an adjustment, you make it.”

Or, maybe it's resilience?

“It seems like we lose a game, we don’t get our heads down. We just get up and get right back at it," Harrison said. "We seem to always bounce back after we take a beating. We took a beating last night, but we came into today focused, and Derek was out there ready to go. He did a great job tonight.”

Actually, the answer is simpler still.

There's a reason why the Rangers can't seem to agree whether or not they know they haven't lost two straight in about two months. And there's a reason they're so good in the game following a loss. It's precisely because they don't talk or think about it. They're a great baseball that doesn't get caught up in feeling pressure, and instead, focuses on looking ahead and making adjustments. It's a combination of everything.

Interestingly enough, however, it's possible this "streak" stays intact with the Rangers losing the World Series in seven games. So instead of avoiding two straight losses, they'll need to string together two straight wins at some point in this series.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 11:15 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:07 am

Holland, Rangers dominate Cardinals in Game 4

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- We're tied once again, and this World Series appears headed for seven games. The Texas Rangers took Game 4 Sunday night, 4-0, behind a big-time pitching performance.

Hero: Derek Holland needed to dig deep and give the Rangers a big outing. He did so and then some. It's pretty unlikely even Holland himself expected to be so dominant. He threw 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball. The last time an AL pitcher threw a complete-game shutout in a World Series was Jack Morris in his famed 1991 outing. Holland couldn't complete the thing, but he only allowed two hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. He looked just like the guy who threw three shutouts in the span of five starts in July.

World Series
Goat: Edwin Jackson is an easy target, but you have to say the Cardinals would take him working 5 1/3 innings and allowing three runs -- especially with how poorly Holland had been pitching lately. Nope, the main problem in this game for the Cardinals was getting shut down by a pitcher who had an 8.45 ERA in two ALCS starts. Plus, he's a lefty and the Cardinals were nearly all-right-handed. Coming off a 16-run performance, they needed more offense than this. Berkman was the only Cardinals player to get a hit off Holland (he had two).

Turning point: Josh Hamilton's RBI double in the first inning. The Rangers had the momentum all game after the back-to-back hits (Elvis Andrus singled to start it) and never let go.

It was over when ... Mike Napoli came through with a thunderous three-run home run off Mitchell Boggs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Up to that point, the Rangers were in the driver's seat, but also failed to plate several baserunners. The way Holland was pitching, a 4-0 lead may as well have been 14-0.

Next: One more time, we'll see a first pitch at 7:05 p.m. CT in Rangers Ballpark. This time it's for Game 5 of the World Series, and it will be the last baseball game here this season. C.J. Wilson will get ball for Texas, while Chris Carpenter gets the nod for St. Louis. It's a rematch of Game 1, which the Cardinals won 3-2. But this is a totally different venue, and is much tougher on pitchers.

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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