Last stop: St. Louis


Lewis will finish the job for Texas

Durrett By Richard Durrett

ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers have the guy they want on the mound with a chance to win the World Series. And that's the biggest reason the Fall Classic -- and it's been a fun one, from close games to memorable comebacks to phone problems -- ends in Game 6 with the Rangers celebrating at Busch Stadium.

Colby Lewis takes his impressive postseason resume to the hill with him in Game 6, ready to clinch yet another big series for the Rangers. The right-hander has put together two great postseasons. He was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts in the 2010 playoffs. Opponents hit just .176 against him.

It was Lewis who won Game 6 against the New York Yankees in the 2010 AL Championship Series. And he got the club's only World Series win against the Giants last year.

Those games were at home. But this season, Lewis' ERA was two runs lower on the road (3.43) than at home (5.54).

That's carried over to the postseason. He's made three postseason starts in 2011 -- all on the road -- and is 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA. That includes a solid effort against the Cardinals in Game 2.

He gave up one run on four hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Reliever Alexi Ogando allowed the run to score on Allen Craig's RBI single.

So Lewis comes in with plenty of confidence and the experience of getting the job done in a previous clinching game.

Texas also comes in riding a two-game winning streak and is gaining momentum on offense. The Cardinals (like most of the big leagues) haven't figured out how to stop Mike Napoli. He has two homers and nine RBIs in this series.

Other key cogs in the lineup are now contributing as well. Adrian Beltre hit a tying homer in Game 5. Michael Young has three RBIs and came through with a leadoff double in the eighth in Game 5 to get that inning going.

Even Josh Hamilton, hobbled by a strained groin (or maybe even a sports hernia), looks like he's swinging the bat better and has two RBIs. And Nelson Cruz, who was so dominant in the ALCS, has a homer and two RBIs.

Texas comes in with the bats producing and its best playoff pitcher ready. The series ends in Game 6.

Garcia will help Cards extend series

Schoenfield By David Schoenfield

ST. LOUIS -- Jaime Garcia is a very good pitcher. At home, he's an excellent pitcher, with a 2.55 ERA and .230 opponents' average at Busch Stadium during the regular season.

He dominated in Game 2, pitching seven scoreless innings with three hits, one walk and seven strikeouts. And while the Rangers will run out their usual righty-heavy lineup, that won't affect Garcia, whose changeup and cutter actually make him more effective against right-handed batters. Plus, he won't be rattled with his team down in the series; as he said in his pregame media session Tuesday, the Cardinals have been playing must-win games since early September.

"I've been feeling really good," he said. "I've been able to do the things that I want to do every time I go out there. Obviously, sometimes they go your way, sometimes it doesn't, but I feel really confident about myself right now." Exactly what a Cardinals fan wants to hear.

As I've written before, the Rangers are not the same club away from Rangers Ballpark. They had a .860 OPS at home, .740 on the road. They hit .186 in the first two games in St. Louis. Similar cold weather is expected Wednesday. That doesn't bode well for the Texas bats.

If Ron Washington keeps walking Albert Pujols, it WILL come back to bite him. Stick your hand in the lion's cage often enough and eventually you'll get caught. Yes, Matt Holliday's hand may be bothering him, but he did hit .435 in the NLCS. He's 3-for-18 in the World Series without an RBI. That means he's due.

Being back in the NL park will be an advantage for the Cardinals. Allen Craig is clearly the best pinch hitter available for either team. The middle of the Texas lineup will again feature a string of righties, so Tony La Russa will be able to get the favorable matchups he wants for Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski in middle relief. (I don't think we'll see Scrabble facing Mike Napoli again.)

Do you have faith in Alexi Ogando and even Neftali Feliz right now? Feliz has seven walks in 10.1 innings in the postseason. He's a blown save waiting to happen.

There is a possibility that Game 6 could be rained out. That means Chris Carpenter could be ready to pitch Game 7 on three days' rest if the series goes that far.

Mr. Pujols. His house. Game on. At some point, he will get a pitch … and I envision a long fly ball …