Sunday, October 16, 2011
2011 Fall Classic: Rangers vs. Cardinals
By Jeff Caplan
And so it's all set: The St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers.
Game 1 of the World Series is Wednesday night from Busch Stadium in the heart of downtown St. Louis. It'll be the Rangers' top gun C.J. Wilson (0-2, 8.04 ERA) against the Cards' ace Chris Carpenter (2-0, 3.71).
The Rangers wrapped up their second consecutive American League title with a 15-5 route in Game 6 of the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers. The Cardinals, who clinched the NL wild card on the last day of the regular season, put a similar Game 6 beating on the Milwaukee Brewers, 12-6, Sunday night.
Interestingly enough, the Cardinals can thank their World Series Game 1 opposing pitcher as well as LCS foe Prince Fielder for owning the home-field advantage in the Fall Classic.
Of course, everyone knows that home-field advantage is determined by the All-Star Game. The National League won it this season, 5-1, therefore the Cards have it, meaning they'll get Games 1 and 2, and, if necessary, 6 and 7 at their park.
Games 3, 4 and, if necessary, Game 5 will be played in Arlington on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
So, just how did the NL take the Mid-Summer Classic?
Well, in the fourth inning, Fielder, the Brewers' left-handed slugger, faced Wilson, the Rangers' No. 1 starter. On a 2-2 count, Wilson fired a fastball. Fielder swung and launched it 410 feet to center field for a three-run homer and a 3-1 lead. Wilson took the loss and now the Cardinals are the happy beneficiaries.
It's doubtful Albert Pujols will send either Wilson or Fielder a thank you note.
An oddity in this World Series are the pitching staffs. The Cardinals needed seven innings of relief work to close out Game 6 and its bullpen actually pitched more innings in the NLCS than the starting rotation. The Rangers had similar issues with no starter going deeper than six innings in the ALCS while bringing a combined 6.59 ERA into the series. That's the second-worst rotation ERA in the ALCS by any team that won the series to advance to the World Series.
Both bullpens are ready and so are two explosive batting orders.
This should be fun.