After winning the first game of the World Series, can the Cardinals keep up the good work and hold serve at Busch Stadium in the second one? Will the Rangers regroup and rake like they have for the last two years?
Whatever happens, the Rangers are in serious trouble. In the first place, 12 of the last 14 teams to win the World Series have won the first game. Secondly, a strong resemblance in the hunger factor can be seen in both teams.
With another match tomorrow in St. Louis, Texas will rake and play with extreme desperation knowing they have to win four out of six games from the red hot Redbirds—a team the experts wrote off in August.
For sure, the Cardinals have been the underdogs in each series this postseason. They want to prove the experts wrong. The Rangers were happy just to appear in the World Series last year—their franchise’s first. In contrast, they’re starving to win this one.
They could be facing a famine on the scale of what has been predicted for America, and the world by some people. Get your tables and finances in order even if these prognostications turn out wrong.
As predicted by yours truly, part of what the Rangers do best was taken away by the Redbirds. Catcher Yadier Molina gunned down Ian Kinsler, who was trying to steal second base early in the first inning.
Thereafter, Texas didn’t try to steal another base. It’ll be interesting to see if Ron Washington calls off his dogs or calls on them in the running game going forward in this series.
Like us all, Texas can’t afford to look back; they could turn into a pillar of salt. Their ace was on the mound last night against the Redbirds, but the Rangers came up salty dogs.
The second time around in the lineup got peppery for C.J. Wilson, but it was a positive for the Cardinals. Wilson hit Albert Pujols with a pitch thrown 59 feet to home plate from the St. Louis grounds-kept mound.
The Cardinals then began to employ their obvious strategy of trying to take the ball the other way against Wilson. As it turns out, it was a good approach.
The by-product was both Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman hitting line drives safely down the left field line to start a two-run rally in the fourth inning.
Wilson began to unravel, it appeared; more of his pitches were diving into the dirt in front of home plate. The Cardinals, on the other hand, were having fun on the field.
Carpenter was smiling after his incredible diving catch of a soft touchdown toss from Albert Pujols. Albert was trying to lead the Redbirds’ current ace to the first base bag against Elvis Andrus in the first inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, “Smiley” Carpenter faced hitters No. 5, 6 and 7. Adrian Beltre led off with a base hit, but Nelson Cruz struck out swinging at a blazing fastball thrown right down the middle of the plate.
No problem. Napoli powered one over Berkman’s head and into the right field Busch Stadium bleachers to tie the game, 2-2.
Smiley regrouped and mowed left-handed batter David Murphy down right after that. Carpenter was lifted for pinch-hitting Allen Craig in the sixth inning. No problem.
Alexi Ogando relived Wilson, only to give up an 0-2 base hit to Craig. Where? You guessed it—down the right field line to drive in a run. The score was 3-2 Redbirds going into the seventh inning. Craig had delivered a big hit in Game 6 against the Brewers' LaTroy Hawkins to score two runs.
It was up to Fernando Salas to protect the one-run lead in relief of Carpenter. Fernando gave up a one-out single to Cruz and walked Napoli on four pitches after a mound visit from world famous pitching coach Dave Duncan.
LaRussa lifted Salas for left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, who struck out pinch-hitters Craig Gentry and Esteban German. The Colby Rasmus-trade never looked better.
Following those two Rzepczynski-focused dramatic sequences, the next big drama came after Octavio Dotel mowed the Rangers down for the first two outs of the eighth inning.
As lefty Arthur Rhodes strode in from the bullpen to face Josh Hamilton, I felt good for the reliever who was appearing in his first WS game.
To confirm my good feeling, he did his job. Pitching against the team he was cut loose by earlier this year, Rhodes took a deep breath before his first official toss—a ball. To be sure, he was having a ball but couldn’t show it.
With the count 3-2, which equals five, the Redbirds fans rose to their feet to encourage Rhodes. He had etched his late five-year-old son’s initials in the dirt behind the mound before toeing the rubber. The lefty got Hamilton to fly out to center fielder Jon Jay.
St. Louis Cardinals baseball at its finest.
Following that breathtaking display, eager and new closer Jason Motte came in to blow the Rangers away in the top of the ninth inning. His cut fastball was clocking 97 miles per hour, and it took the life out of the Rangers.
Thankfully, the Cardinals kept my blessed prediction alive. They will keep up the good work. Now, all they have to do is play .500 ball in the next six possible World Series games to make me a baseball prophet.
Contact Lake Cruise: Lakecruise@att.net