MLB World Series 2011: Nelson Cruz Holds Key to Texas Rangers World Series Win

Andrew KulhaSenior Analyst IIIOctober 21, 2011

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 12:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers reacts after striking out in the second inning of Game Four of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on October 12, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

It looks like the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are pretty evenly matched teams, and their 1-1 World Series tie would suggest the same.

That being said, the Rangers have something that the Cardinals do not, and I believe that it's the key to winning the series.

What could it be that the Rangers possess that the Cardinals do not?

St. Louis has a good pitching staff, plays great defense and has one of the best power hitters ever in Albert Pujols.

Those are all great features of a World Series team, but that won't be enough to beat the Rangers.

To be honest, it's not what the Cardinals don't have, but more so who they don't have.

The Cardinals don't have Nelson Cruz, and that's exactly the reason the Texans have an advantage in this World Series.

ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 23:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

It's simple, Cruz is a beast, but so far he's been neutralized.

Slowing him down has got to be part of the game-plan for the Cardinals. 

Mike Swallow of BaseballStL via KMOV.com writes that stopping Cruz is the key for St. Louis:

The Texas Rangers are a dangerous team, that’s nothing new, they’re in the World Series for a reason.  One of the main reasons they’re in the 2011 Fall Classic is because of their number six hitter in game one, right-fielder Nelson Cruz.  Cardinals’ fan should be familiar with Cruz after he put on a show during the 2009 Homerun Derby here in St. Louis.  In the American League Championship Series Cruz proved why he’s an All-Star outfielder.  He hit an astounding .364 with six homeruns and 13 R.B.I, thus winning ALCS MVP honors.  The question is then, what can the Cardinals do with Cruz to keep from committing World Series suicide? The answer is stay away from the fastball and stay on the outside of the plate.

He's gone 1-for-6 with two strikeouts and a .167 batting average, but I think we all know that he's eventually going to break out of that.

It's going to be hard for the Cardinals to hold him down for much longer, which means sooner or later he's going to start pounding the ball.

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 20:  Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers walks back to the dugout after striking out in the fifth inning in Game Two of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 20, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Once Cruz gets himself going, the Rangers will essentially have control of the series.

With big names like Josh Hamilton and Michael Young in front of him, Cruz just has to start putting the ball in play, or out of the yard, and things will offensively fall into place for the Rangers.

When things are going well with the bats, this team is impossible to beat.

If they get a lead, they will go to their bullpen as soon as possible, and you are in a ton of trouble when you're playing catch-up with the Rangers bullpen.

The key to this series rests in the bat of Nelson Cruz though, and I think he's going to deliver.

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