Tag:World Series
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."

World Series
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. 

PITCHING MATCHUP

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.

LINEUPS

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


NOTES

• 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.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:08 am
 

Grading Game 4 of the World Series

Holland

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.

World Series
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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Posted on: October 23, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 9:05 pm
 

Holland getting it done through three



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers entered Game 3 with plenty of questions, but most revolved around pitching. After being crushed for 16 runs Saturday night, the bullpen was a bit taxed and the fickle Derek Holland was taking the hill.

So far, so good for the young left-hander.

Holland has worked through three innings, allowing only one hit while striking out three. He's got good velocity on his fastball, but the biggest plus has been his command of breaking pitches. The Cardinals have hit a few balls hard right at Rangers' defenders and the defense has made some sparkling plays, but Holland is doing his job ... so far.

It's only been three innings. You've got to believe Texas needs at least six strong innings from Holland, maybe even more to give the bullpen some rest.

The Rangers hold a 1-0 lead through three innings. But the game is in progress, so ...

Click here to follow along live on CBSSports.com's GameTracker

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 6:50 pm
Edited on: October 23, 2011 7:18 pm
 

Instant replay in MLB? Torre and La Russa



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- In light of the botched Ron Kulpa call at first base in Game 3, discussion of expanded instant replay has once-again ramped up.

As a refresher, here's a GIF of the play, courtesy of SB Nation:



Rangers manager Ron Washington, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Major League Baseball's vice president of baseball operations Joe Torre spoke with the media before Sunday night's Game 4 on the matter.

"All I want is to get the play right, that's all," said Washington. "And sometimes umpires don't get it right, and there's nothing you can do about it.

"You know, we brought in instant replay for the home run. I think in the World Series, for plays like last night, maybe we can find a way to get the play right."

And he's right. We can't be sure of what the perfect system would entail in baseball just yet, but there's far too much technology at our disposal to allow an easily correctable call to just stand and move on -- especially when the umpire himself knows he messed up.

More Coverage
"Ron Kulpa came in, and I was in the umpires' dressing room afterwards, and he walked in. The first thing out of his mouth was that he had to see the play. He said, 'I missed it, did I miss it?'" Torre said, also adding that anyone questioning Kulpa's integrity -- he's a born-and-raised St. Louis native -- is crossing the line.

And I agree with Torre. Kulpa absolutely nailed the biggest call of Game 2 when he called Ian Kinsler safe on a ninth-inning stolen base. If he was in the bag for the Cardinals, he calls Kinsler out. It's very simple. So the focus should be entirely on replay, not Kulpa's honest mistake.

La Russa seems to feel Kulpa's pain, as well as any other umpire who has made an honest error and been vilified for it.

"My two cents is more in favor of looking at it. I think, as long as it doesn't affect the game as far as slowing it down, I think the umpires are -- it's unfair," La Russa said, when discussing that he'd like the umpires to get more help and take less blame. "And if there's a way to ease that burden, some limited additions are going to be discussed, and we'll see where it goes."

When asked if there was a chance that MLB would implement further replay measures, Torre seemed to give a bit of a contradictory message.

"Well, I'd say drop it, but I don't want people to think that we're stubborn about this," Torre said. He later noted that he's worried about delays.

"To me, wholesale replay, I think is going to disrupt the flow of the game. That's just my opinion. Am I old school? Yeah, I am old school, but I'm not ignoring the new technology that's available to us, and we're going to do everything we can to make the game better."

Only by refusing to implement simple additional measures -- even if only in the postseason -- MLB is certainly ignoring new technology. And what about the delay when a manager argues with the umpire? In a replay system, it's possible they just challenge a play or whatever the system might be instead of a five-minute argument delay.

"That's certainly legitimate," Torre said when asked about the time spent arguing calls. "That question is certainly legitimate, but they're not all going to be that clear-cut. Again, it's still not going to keep the manager from arguing, it's not going to keep the player from arguing before you go to replay."

And, again, I'd ask why they can't just review and overturn the clear-cut plays and ignore the close ones? Torre might say they don't want to be stubborn, but it's pretty evident Major League Baseball is being very stubborn on the use of video replay, at least for now.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 4:06 pm
 

Game 4 weather: In the clear



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Hopefully Game 4 isn't a reversal of Game 3 in terms of the weather forecast versus the actual game weather. Things couldn't have been better, condition-wise, during Game 3. The thunderstorm that was said to be coming, possibly during the game, didn't hit until about 3 a.m. local time -- and it was legit, by the way. Sunday, it's a bit cloudy, but very nice. The picture above was taken at about 2:30 local time.

World Series coverage
The forecast for gametime is nearly impeccable. The first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. CT. In looking at Weather.com's hourly forecast, the 7 o'clock hour shows 78 degrees with a 10 percent chance of rain. At 10 o'clock, the forecast says 70 degrees with a zero percent chance of rain. Everything in between and even later in the night is a pretty similar story. We're supposed to see temperatures in the 70s and not get any rain.

Hopefully this isn't one of those times the radar spectacularly fails -- Game 1 of the Tigers-Yankees ALDS comes to mind -- because we're all set to have a perfect night of baseball.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:37 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:22 pm
 

World Series Game 4: Clutch outing needed


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
"You know what happened. We can bring it up and everything. I went out there, threw 13 pitches, two for strikes," he said. "I feel like I've got a lot to prove after what happened last year, but it's obviously not going to take me out of my game or what I have to do for this next start."

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.

PITCHING MATCHUP

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.

LINEUPS

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 Jon Jay CF 8 Mike Napoli C
9 Nick Punto 2B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B
SP Edwin Jackson RHP SP Derek Holland LHP


NOTES

• 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.

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