Thursday, October 27, 2011
Key: Keeping the Cards' 1-2 hitters down
By Jeff Caplan
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Cardinals have a new No. 2 in the lineup for tonight's Game 6 in lefty-swinging Skip Schumaker to go against Texas Rangers right-handed starter Colby Lewis. The Cards will be looking for a little jump at the top of the lineup.
Their Nos. 1 and 2 hitters are a combined 6-for-37 in the series from the top two spots, which greatly increases the options the Rangers have in pitching to three-hole hitter Albert Pujols, as well as limits the damage he can do.
"It's been very important because the more we can keep the top guys off the basepaths it gives us opportunities to have open bases, so we didn't have to pitch to Albert," Rangers manager Ron Washington said prior to Game 6. "You know, if those guys were getting all over the bag, it would be tough. Albert would have to swing the bat, then we would have to execute pitches and see if he would chase, and he's one guy that doesn't go out of his zone very often."
Now, leadoff man Rafael Furcal could argue that he was robbed twice to start Games 4 and 5 in Arlington when his line drives were snared by third baseman Adrian Beltre, turning extra bases into outs.
Furcal, who has been a constant as the leadoff man while the No. 2 spot has rotated, is just 3-for-20 in the World Series. Schumaker has just four at-bats in the World Series with one hit.
"That's certainly a situation that has helped us to slow down their offense," Washington said, "having Albert not being able to swing the bat."
In all, four of Pujols' free passes in the World Series have been intentional walks.