World Series Down to the Wire

Rangers are having fun up 3-2


 

by Alex “The Dors” Dorsky

 

Most people quit on the baseball season long ago. I don’t have the facts to back this up (#HermanCainIsAnIdiot), but I’m guessing once the Phillies and Yankees were eliminated from the playoffs baseball’s TV ratings dropped faster than Stacy Keibler’s pants the first time she was alone in a room with George Clooney.

However, for the real baseball fan, the World Series is what it’s all about – no matter who’s playing. After battling through a grueling 162-game regular season and two rounds of post season play, two teams have the chance to duke it out for the championship. If you aren’t paying attention to the World Series (I doubt you’d be reading this article, but…) you’re missing a good one.

Contrary to what most people expected, games 1 and 2 were essentially pitching duels. St. Louis went ahead 3-2 in the 6th inning of game 1 on a pinch-single by Allen Craig off of fireballer Alexi Ogando & held on to get the Series lead.

In game 2, Craig looked like he was ready to wrap up the series MVP after again hitting a pinch single of the suddenly vulnerable Ogando – this time Craig put the Redbirds ahead 1-0. After Salas and Scrabble favorite Rzepczynski cruised through the 8th, the near-perfect (jinx!) Jason Motte came in to send the home crowd into a frenzy and put St. Louis up 2-0, right? Nope. Kinsler led off the 9th and greeted Motte with a soft single to center. Kinsler then stole 2nd by the narrowest of margins and took 3rd when Andrus followed with another single to center. Andrus was content to stop at 1st, but John Jay’s throw from center hooked just a bit and Pujols appeared to take his eye off the ball at the last moment, failed to cut it off and allowed Andrus to take 2nd.

Hindsight is 20/20, but most people agree this is when the usually-steady Tony LaRussa made the first of his managerial blunders. LaRussa pulled righty Motte for Arthur Rhodes, preferring the lefty-on-lefty matchup with the next hitter Josh Hamilton. Hamilton hit a sac fly to tie the score; Andrus moved up to third, then Michael Young hit a sac fly off of Lance Lynn to give Texas a 2-1 lead. Finally, Nefi Feliz closed down the Cards in the bottom of the 9th with relative ease (turning Allen Craig into a footnote).

Could Motte have gotten out of the jam he created any better than the unimposing combo of Rhodes/Lynn? There’s no guarantee, but I’d personally rather keep the ball in Motte’s hand; after all, until that night he pitched 9 innings of post season baseball & allowed only 1 hit and no walks while striking out 7 (yes, Motte). He had given up two relatively softly hit balls & you need a strikeout to have any chance at keeping the lead: go with your strikeout guy. But he LaRussa didn’t and the Cards lost.

Game 3 in Texas was the slugfest everyone had been waiting for, namely the 3 ridiculous bombs hit by Albert Pujols. All 3 of Pujols’ HRs sailed farther than 420 feet – absolute no-doubters. Pujols joined Mr. October Reggie Jackson and the Babe (twice) as the only players to hit 3 HR in a World Series game. Craig also homered for St. Louis, as did Young and Nelson Cruz for Texas.

The Cardinals took back home field advantage and momentum, but Game 4 was a different story. Lefty Derek Holland cooled St. Louis’ bats, and Mike Napoli hit a 3-run shot in the 6th to claim a 4-0 shutout that evened the series at 2-2.

Can you imagine this guy in any other uniform?

Napoli again was the hero in Game 5. He hit a tie-breaking 2-run double in the 8th inning that paved the way for a 4-2 win, and put Texas one victory from its first World Series title in franchise history.

There is actually somewhat of a mystery as to what happened in the St. Louis bullpen in the 8th inning. Napoli’s double came off of lefty specialist Rzepczynski, and to the keen observer it was strange that Rzepczynski was still in the game. Sure, the Rangers wisely sandwiched the right-handed Napoli between lefties David Murphy and Mitch Moreland, but LaRussa could have made a number of moves other than his choice of nothing. The Skipper claimed he tried to get Motte ready to come in, but then blamed a bad bullpen telephone and loud crowd noise for the lack of readiness to pitch. I don’t know if I buy the excuses, but something strange definitely went down, and perhaps LaRussa – a noted control freak – is covering for his bullpen or pitching coach with his vague explanation.

LaRussa shouldn't beat himself up over poor decisions

Texas clearly has momentum on its side now, but the series now shifts back to St. Louis for Game 6 and also Game 7 if necessary. Do the Rangers have what it takes to gut out one final victory on the road?

Oh, you’re waiting for a prediction from me…ok, FINE! I’m going with Texas in the full 7.

I think Jaime Garcia will get the job done for St. Louis in Game 6 but I just don’t see Kyle Lohse coming through for all the marbles in game 7. Not that scheduled Texas starter Matt Harrison has a better track record, but Texas manager Ron Washington has the luxury of a quick trigger finger as he could potentially use Ogando to come in right away if Harrison looks shaky early.

"Ok, is she looking now?.....What about now?"

If I were LaRussa, I’d do everything possible NOT to start Lohse. I’d go to my ace, Carpenter, and ask for three innings from him. Sure he started on Monday, but Game 7 (Thursday) would normally be the day for his between-start session; that means him throwing 40-50 pitches doesn’t seem beyond the call of duty. This is Game 7 of the World Series we’re talking about, and Carpenter would have plenty of time to rest before his next start. Then, depending on the score of the game in inning 4 or whenever Carpenter tires, LaRussa could go to Salas, Westbrook, or even (gulp) Lohse as a change of pace for a couple innings. I don’t know why I’m so down on Lohse, but in the end I just think the Rangers’ lineup is too strong top-to-bottom to be held down two games in a row.

You’ll have to tune in to the action to see how it actually plays out. But if you’re like most people, you’ll be watching Dancing with the Stars or whatever crap semi-reality show is on instead.

That’s OK, come back to this column in a couple days and I’ll tell you what you missed.

Who will be dancing after Games 6 and 7?