Saturday, October 22, 2011
Rangers, Cardinals all square in Texas
By Katie Sharp
A World Series that was billed as a battle of the bullpens and big bats, has turned into a classic duel of starting pitchers and "smallball" heroics.
With the Fall Classic tied at one game apiece, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers now head south to Arlington, Texas for a pivotal Game 3 tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, of the 52 times that a World Series has been tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the title 37 times.
Inside the Series
The Rangers go home with the momentum from their dramatic Game 2 win. It’s not surprising that Texas was able to bounce-back from their loss in the series opener. The Rangers have not lost consecutive games in this postseason and didn’t do so in the last 31 games of the regular season. That was the longest season-ending streak in the majors this season, according to Elias.
The Cardinals lost homefield advantage when they squandered the lead in the ninth inning Thursday. However, they’ve handled the road well this postseason, with four wins in six road games. But history is not on their side, as the team has lost nine of its last 10 World Series games on the road.
Stat to Remember
We could be headed for one of the most dramatic postseasons ever. Not only is this just the second time in the Wild Card Era that we won’t have any series sweeps, but Thursday’s 2-1 win by the Rangers was the 12th one-run game of the 2011 playoffs. That matches the record set in 1995 and later tied in 1997 and 2003.
On the Mound
Kyle Lohse takes the ball for the visiting Cardinals, still looking for the first postseason win of his 11-season career. According to Elias, his 298 career regular-season starts are the second-most by any active pitcher without a playoff victory.
Lohse is 0-4 in his playoff career, and his team has lost his last six postseason outings. If he loses, he’ll become the third pitcher in major-league history to begin his postseason career 0-5 or worse. Doyle Alexander started 0-5 and Aaron Sele started 0-6.
Matt Harrison is on the mound for the hometown team in his fourth career postseason appearance and third start. Harrison has been on a roll lately, going 5-0 with a 2.88 ERA in his last seven starts dating back to the beginning of September.
The southpaw Harrison likely won’t be fazed by the righty-heavy Cardinals lineup, as he has held right-handed batters to a lower batting average (.247) than lefties (.274). The key pitch for him against righties is his 83-mph changeup, against which righties are hitting .194 this season.
He has been dominant throwing the pitch since the start of September, with just two hits allowed in 19 at-bats, and opponents have missed on nearly 40 percent of their swings against his changeups over the last two months.
Most frequent pitch locations for Matt Harrison's changeup to right-handed batters since September 1.
Click here to create your own Harrison heat maps