World Series 2011: The 3 Most Important Keys for Each Team in Game 6
Busch Stadium will be the site where a new champion is crowned in 2011, and both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals plan on celebrating the triumph later this week.
As the two clubs prepare for Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, here are the three most important keys for each team, as the Rangers try to avoid a seventh and decisive game, and the Cards try to force it.
No. 3 Cardinals: Give Fans Something to Cheer About Early
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Despite falling behind three games to two in Texas, the Cardinals did accomplish one thing and that was to get the series back home to Busch Stadium.
A key for St. Louis in getting momentum on their side will be to get their fans into the action early, as atmosphere in the World Series can really make a difference (just ask Tony La Russa after the bullpen phone debacle in Arlington).
In Games 1 and 2, the Cardinals scored a total of three runs, and the earliest they scored any of those runs was the fourth inning (in Game 2, they didn't score until the seventh).
The Cards need to score and score early.
No. 2 Cardinals: Get 7 Solid Innings from Jaime Garcia
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jaime Garcia was brilliant for St. Louis in Game 2, tossing seven shutout frames in a no-decision, as the Cardinals blew a late-inning lead, and the game, losing 3-2.
Garcia will get another shot in Game 6, and St. Louis will need him to be just as good, if not better, this time around, as he'll face Colby Lewis, who has been extremely successful on the road this postseason.
Lewis was opposite Garcia in that Game 2, and himself turned in a sparkling performance, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing just a run on four hits for Texas.
Weather could also play a role in limiting two explosive offenses, as the forecast calls for cold temperatures, clouds, and possibly, rain.
No. 1 Cardinals: Force Rangers to Pitch to Albert Pujols
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Cardinals fans would love nothing more than to see Albert Pujols duplicate his Game 3 history-making performance, this time at home.
In Games 4 and 5, Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson both did great jobs of keeping Pujols from doing more damage, either by getting him out or by walking him.
In Game 5, for example, Wilson intentionally walked Pujols with the bases empty and one out, and then got Matt Holliday to hit into an inning-ending double play.
St. Louis absolutely needs to have Rafael Furcal and Allen Craig get on base ahead of Pujols, forcing the Rangers to deal with the fearsome slugger.
In Games 4 and 5, Furcal and Craig were a combined 1-for-12.
If that trend continues, Pujols will keep getting the four-finger treatment, and that will be very troublesome for the Cardinals.
No. 3 Rangers: Score at Least 3 Runs
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Outside of Game 3, in which the Cardinals erupted for 16 runs and blew away the Rangers, the Cardinals have never scored more than two runs in a game during this World Series.
Bottom Line: When the Rangers score three or more, they've got a great chance to win, especially with the cold, damp conditions expected in St. Louis and two great postseason starters on the mound in Jaime Garcia and Colby Lewis.
No. 2 Rangers: Don't Let Albert Pujols Beat You
Rob Carr/Getty Images
The Rangers just cannot let No. 5 beat them.
Colby Lewis needs to continue what fellow starters Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson did ahead of him: They pitched around Pujols whenever they could.
Pujols was intentionally walked three times in Game 5, and didn't score a single run.
That's how Texas needs to handle the Pujols issue: Make someone else beat you.
No. 1 Rangers: Don't Think of Game 6 as Game 7
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
It's Game 6, not Game 7.
The Rangers can't feel the pressure a Game 7 would generate because even if they lose (though of course, they don't want to), they still have another shot to clinch their first world championship.
By approaching Game 6 like there's no tomorrow, the Rangers will force themselves to press and that's never good in baseball.
Texas needs to take the field loose and focused. If they do that, they have a great chance at hoisting a trophy by game's end.