St. Louis Cardinals vs. Texas Rangers
The World Series moved back to Texas for Games 3, 4, and 5. With both teams coming out of St. Louis with a win, there was still a chance of taking the series with a sweep in Arlington. But with the way the Rangers and Cardinals have been battling, this series was more likely to come down to a trip back to St. Louis, and that’s exactly what happened. After three games in the American League, Texas takes a 3-2 lead back to Busch Stadium. So what happened? Well, it was a back-and-forth battle to the very end.
The Rangers pitching has really only had one slip up in this series, and that would be the 16-7 loss in Game 3. Otherwise, the pitching has continued to be as good as advertised. C.J. Wilson turned in a solid performance in Game 5, going five strong innings before turning it over to the bullpen. But the real shock must have come in Game 4. Derek Holland, the big question mark that could barely make it through four innings in the ALCS, pitched a shutout gem of 8 1/3 innings in Game 4. He only gave up two hits, while striking out seven, and really bouncing back from what can only be described as a subpar postseason.
The hitting hasn’t been much to write home about, still, especially in Games 4 and 5. Again, the offense was kept to a minimum in the run category, with only four runs in each of those two games. The power did start to show again, as Mike Napoli went deep in Game 4, and Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre hit solo shots in Game 5. It was Game 3, where the real run support came in. There wasn’t much power from the home team, so to speak (although home runs from Michael Young and Nelson Cruz did light up the stadium). The majority of the runs were put up in the way the Rangers do best: scratching out run after run by playing small ball. Most days, seven runs would be enough to win a ball game. Too bad that wasn’t the case in Game 3, or the Rangers could have swept the trip back to Arlington and won the series.
The Rangers really showed up once they got back home. Whether the large number of runs in Game 3 came from fatigue, jetlag, or just a bad night by both sides, it was the only real blemish on an otherwise well-played World Series for the Texas Rangers. They’ve managed to keep the pressure on St. Louis, and like the Tigers in the ALCS, the Cards now need to win both games at home in order to become World Champions. If Colby Lewis gives another performance like Game 2, then the Rangers should have no problem taking Game 6.
St. Louis Cardinals
You can only keep Albert Pujols caged for so long. Then he’ll break free like a wild beast, and eat your face. Or hit three home runs off of you while going 5/6 with six RBIs. Whichever you prefer. That was the damage done in Game 3. Of course, it’s even more shocking that the rest of the team still put up more runs than Pujols did alone. It was a good night for the Cards’ offense.
Pujols has a lot in common with Miguel Cabrera, in terms of their hitting prowess. Yes, these two men have been compared to each other many, MANY times, especially this past year. But I think what’s most characteristic of these kinds of hitters is that their hot and cold streaks can come on so quickly. One night, they’ll hit three bombs (like Pujols in Game 3). But the next two nights, Pujols didn’t have a single hit. Yes, a lot of that can be attributed to Holland and Wilson (and, of course, the Rangers’ bullpen). But if they’re both such smart and dangerous hitters (which they certainly are, no questioning that), then no pitcher—let alone two pitchers—should keep them to back-to-back no hit nights. I know it’s frustrating for me, as a Tigers fan, when it happens to Cabrera. So I can only imagine that it’s just as frustrating for a Cardinals fan when it happens to Pujols.
Pitching for the Cardinals has been almost as strong as the Rangers. Kyle Lohse had a pretty subpar outing in Game 3, lasing only 3 innings. Edwin Jackson went five strong in Game 4, but couldn’t compete with Derek Holland’s almost complete game shutout. The best performance came from Chris Carpenter, who went seven strong, and only gave up two earned runs. But even that wasn’t enough for a win, as the Cards dropped Games 4 and 5, leaving Arlington with a 3-2 series deficit.
It wasn’t a bad three games by the Cardinals, but the Rangers did take whatever small advantage they had at home, and made the most of it. After managing a split in St. Louis, and winning two of three in Arlington, the Rangers are sitting in a great position to win the World Series, and all the pressure is on the Cardinals to get back in it.
World Series – Games 3, 4, and 5 Final Thoughts
The Cardinals played well, for being on the road, but it wasn’t a match for the home team’s performance in these three games. Other than the slugfest that was Game 3, the other four games in this series have been pitching performances that legends are made of. The Rangers had the advantage at home, and they took full advantage of it. But now the series moves back to St. Louis, and the Cardinals get their advantage back. They’ll need every bit of it, too, in order to win Game 6, force a Game 7, and become World Series Champions.