Will the slogan "11 in 11" go from being a jingle to the law of the baseball jungle? The kings of the National League are going home down 3-2 and needing two wins for another championship.
It would be the franchise's 11th. The fact that it came in 2011 would be more nostalgic than meaningful, but Cardinal Nation will take it. If Green Bay is Title Town, I'm officially dubbing St. Louis as Baseball Town, America.
Baseballville for short. I was born in the historic Ville neighborhood and represent the greater St. Louis area.
For this great franchise's 11th World Series title, the Cardinals will try closing the Rangers out in the Gateway Arch's shadows. It'll be up to their juggernaut offense to resurface from the darkness into the light.
For that to occur, I believe Rafael Furcal should sit in Game 6, and someone who can get on base in the second spot should bat second. I’d put David Freese or Yadier Molina ahead of Albert Pujols in the lineup for the next two games.
The top two spots in the order during the fifth meeting were horrible. The game featured a battle between the two biggest free agents to be: C.J. Wilson, who should be the top left-handed free-agent pitcher, and Pujols, the top position player on the market.
After going down in order in the first inning against Wilson, the Cardinals had been shut out for 10 straight innings. The Cards, however, ended that streak at 10 innings by scoring in the top of the second on Molina’s base hit.
They still only scored two runs on Monday night. That means the Redbirds have plated two in the last 18 innings—a dangerous drought in the World Series.
If the runs don’t come raining down in St. Louis, Cardinal Nation will be pouring criticism over the bullpen. The relievers have been suspect all year and have already blown two games.
The Rangers stole the second game in St. Louis after yet another blown save and did it again Sunday night. If not for those lost saves, this Series would be a wrap in favor of the rocking Redbirds.
Another culprit in the last two games has been the batting—or lack thereof—with runners in scoring position.
The Cardinals' lack of base-stealing threats has also bitten them. Zero steals—that’s an ominous number that could spell disaster. In the last game, Allen Craig was inexplicably caught trying to steal with one out while Pujols was batting.
Tony La Russa seemed satisfied with Craig’s explanation after his two base-running blunders.
The Rangers ran their blunder count to nine errors in 14 postseason games after David Murphy committed one while trying to throw Matt Holliday out at home plate. If this error trend continues, it could doom Texas’ chances at winning the World Series.
For example, after being walked in the second inning, Lance Berkman scored on another unsteady hands play by Mitch Moreland at first base. A sharp ground ball to first, hit by Skip Schumaker, who was playing center field for Jon Jay, drove Berkman in.
The hitch in Jay’s swing had been mentioned by Tim McCarver during the broadcast on Sunday night. Maybe La Russa was listening. His move to sit Jay and start Schumaker paid immediate dividends.
The Rangers then seemed deflated after their defense let the Redbirds rally for two scores. Carpenter divided his big curveball from his cutter and conquered Texas without a whimper in the second inning. Texas’ big hitters were reaching instead of swinging.
Yet another error allowed Furcal to get to second on a bunt leading off the third. The biggest bat of the game to that point was Holliday grounding into a double play to end the inning. Pujols had been intentionally walked. Lest you forget, this season the Cardinals set a franchise record for batting into double plays.
Both teams will have to play in colder weather than they experienced in Texas. This could cut down on the number of home runs, which is an advantage for the Cardinals. The Rangers are more of a home run team, but they can also steal.
I envisioned this series going six games with the Cardinals stealing another title. Now the Redbirds will have to do it in seven. If seven-11 sounds nice, then "11 in '11" must sound twice as nice. The Birds simply need to play like fire and ice.
I believe the Redbirds will be on fire, ice the Rangers, tie the Series and win it tomorrow.
You heard me: The Cardinals will win No. 11 in 2011.
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