Posted on: October 20, 2011 1:36 am

For the Rangers, it's the lucky seventh spot

ST. LOUIS -- Ron Washington finally moved Nelson Cruz out of the seventh spot in the Rangers' batting order.

He moved Cruz up to sixth. He moved Mike Napoli down to seventh.

Naturally, in Game 1 of the World Series, Napoli homered to give the Rangers their only two runs in a 3-2 loss to the Cardinals.

Of course.

You want to hit home runs? Bat seventh for the Rangers.

You want a guy to hit a home run? Bat him seventh.

Cruz hit a record six home runs against the Tigers, all from the seventh spot. Napoli bats seventh one game, and he homers, too.

So the Rangers have seven homers from the seventh spot, in just 11 postseason games.

The Royals had six home runs from the seventh spot all season -- in 162 games. The Rays and Giants only had seven apiece.

Washington said Wednesday afternoon that he plans to bat Cruz sixth throughout the World Series. He resisted the move during the ALCS, but said he's making it now because Cruz is so hot and needs more protection in the lineup.

"Now that he's found his stroke and we're in the World Series, I just feel I need to protect him," Washington said. "Mike Napoli is great protection."

And when Mike Napoli -- or any other Ranger -- hits seventh, that really is great protection.

Posted on: October 19, 2011 11:13 pm

Cardinals ride bullpen (of course) to Game 1 win

ST. LOUIS -- You knew it was coming down to the bullpens.

Of course it was.

One game in, the Cardinals bullpen is ahead. One game in, the Cardinals are ahead.

They lead this World Series one game to none. They lead it because Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando allowed a tie-breaking single to Allen Craig in the sixth inning Wednesday night, and because the Rangers couldn't score against the parade of pitchers Tony La Russa summoned out of the Cardinals bullpen.

In Game 1 of the World Series, neither starter was that bad. The Cardinals' Chris Carpenter made it through six innings, the first Cards starter to do so since Carpenter's shutout in the Division Series decider against the Phillies. The Rangers' C.J. Wilson made it to the sixth, as well.

But with two out and a runner on third base in the sixth, the Rangers had Wilson pitch around eighth-place hitter Nick Punto. When La Russa sent Craig to pinch hit for Carpenter, Rangers manager Ron Washington called on Ogando, who allowed just one run in 10 1/3 innings in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Craig sliced a ball down the right-field line, and Nelson Cruz's attempt at a sliding catch failed. The Cardinals took the lead, and La Russa went to the bullpen that basically won the National League Championship Series against the Brewers.

"No disrespect to [NLCS MVP David] Freese, but they could have made eight little trophies [for the bullpen]," Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse said Tuesday.

The Craig single was the biggest moment of the night. The next big moment came in the top of the seventh, when the Rangers put two runners on base with one out against Fernando Salas.

La Russa went to left-hander Marc Rzepczynski, who struck out pinch hitters Craig Gentry and Esteban German.

The Rangers are a typical AL team. They don't pinch hit much. In fact, their last successful pinch hit was on Sept. 13, and including the Gentry and German strikeouts, they're 0-for-15 since.

Category: MLB
Posted on: October 19, 2011 5:06 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 5:07 pm

Don't worry, Rangers. I'm picking St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- The day before the 2010 World Series began, a Rangers official asked me for my World Series pick.

"Rangers," I said.

"No!" he screamed.

I couldn't change it then. I've changed it now.

The boss insists on a World Series pick again, despite all the proof that I have absolutely no idea who is going to win.

"Cardinals," I said.

Cardinals in seven.

Why? Because Rangers people asked me not to pick them again, and Cardinals people didn't ask.

That's why.
Category: MLB
Posted on: October 19, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 6:30 pm

Rangers move ALCS MVP Cruz to 6th in lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Even as Nelson Cruz was hitting a record six home runs in the American League Championship Series, Rangers manager Ron Washington resisted any urge to move him up in the batting order.

For every game in the ALCS -- in fact, for every playoff game so far -- Cruz has batted seventh.

"He's doing well right there," Washington said before the Rangers' clinching win in Game 6 against the Tigers.

For Game 1 of the World Series, Cruz will bat sixth. Washington announced a lineup with Mike Napoli batting behind Cruz for the first time this postseason.

The first two games of the World Series will be played without a designated hitter, but that doesn't change the Rangers lineup much. Michael Young plays first base, so the player who comes out of the lineup is someone who would bat eighth or ninth. By moving Cruz up, though, Washington puts him further from the pitcher's spot, but Washington said Wednesday that his plan is to continue to bat Cruz sixth even when the DH returns for the games in Texas.

Washington said that he originally put Cruz in the seventh spot when he returned from injury in September, because the first six spots in the lineup were set and working well at that point.

"Now that he's found his stride, and we're in the World Series, he needs protection," Washington said. "Mike Napoli is good protection."
The Rangers lineup:

Ian Kinsler, 2b
Elvis Andrus, ss
Josh Hamilton, cf
Michael Young, 1b
Adrian Beltre, 3b
Nelson Cruz, rf
Mike Napoli, c
David Murphy, lf
C.J. Wilson, p

And the Cardinals lineup:

Rafael Furcal, ss
Jon Jay, cf
Albert Pujols, 1b
Matt Holliday, lf
Lance Berkman, rf
David Freese, 3b
Yadier Molina, c
Nick Punto, 2b
Chris Carpenter, p
Posted on: October 19, 2011 1:49 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 1:59 pm

Uehara out as Rangers adjust WS roster

ST. LOUIS -- Remember when the Rangers traded for Koji Uehara?

He cost them two players (Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter) in a deal with the Orioles, and he was supposed to be a big July addition to their bullpen.

Three months later, he's off the World Series roster. The Rangers announced two roster moves Wednesday morning, adding reliever Mark Lowe and third catcher Matt Treanor, and removing Uehara and fellow Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama. The moves were expected, but still interesting.

Uehara appeared three times in the first two rounds of the playoffs, allowing almost as many home runs (three) as he got outs (four). The Rangers replaced him with Lowe, who has been out since Sept. 20 with a strained left hamstring.

Treanor was on the roster for the Division Series, but not for the American League Championship Series. The reasoning then was that the Tigers were starting all right-handers, making it less likely that manager Ron Washington would use backup catcher Yorvit Torrealba as a designated hitter (and thus lessening the need for a third catcher). As it turned out, Torrealba was the Rangers' DH for one of the games in Detroit.

The Cardinals have one left-handed starter, Jaime Garcia, but as of now he's scheduled to start Game 2, which will be played at Busch Stadium, without a DH.

The Cardinals also announced two expected roster moves Wednesday, adding Skip Schumaker, who missed the National League Championship Series with an oblique injury, and Jake Westbrook, who gives them some cover as a long reliever. Adron Chambers and Kyle McClellan were dropped from the roster.

With Uehara and Tateyama off the roster, this will be the second straight World Series with no Japanese players. In fact, if there's a Japanese player who makes news this week, it's more likely to be Yu Darvish, who could be one of the top pitchers available this winter (and who the Rangers may end up pursuing through the posting system).
Posted on: October 18, 2011 8:09 pm

Cardinals and Rangers don't know each other

ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers have never played a game in Busch Stadium.


Many of the Cardinals have never seen Rangers Ballpark.


This is a World Series like few others since baseball went to interleague play in 1997. These teams really don't know each other, and they don't know each other's ballparks.

The Cardinals and Rangers have met just once in the regular season, in a three-game series in Texas in 2004. The winning pitchers in that series: Jeff Suppan, Ryan Drese and Woody Williams.

"It's weird that we've never played them," said Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman, who said he had never even been to St. Louis before the Rangers arrived in town Tuesday.

Some Cardinals players were quizzing Lance Berkman about what it's like to play at Rangers Ballpark. Berkman played there regularly when he was with the Astros, and also last year with the Yankees.

Think of Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, Berkman told them.

"It's a good hitters' park," Berkman said. "That's well-documented."

Rangers pitchers were asking teammate Mike Adams how Busch Stadium plays.

"I personally think it plays pretty fair," said Adams, who spent much of his career in the National League.

And what about the idea that Rangers Ballpark is like Cincinnati?

"Very much so," Adams said. "Cincinnati is pretty much one of the biggest jokes in baseball. And Texas can play like that, too."

Even some Rangers who have plenty of experience in the National League haven't ever played in the current Busch Stadium. Adrian Beltre came up with the Dodgers, but his last game in St. Louis was in 2004, two years before the current park opened.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:48 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 12:14 pm

Bullpens are great, but in WS starters matter

ST. LOUIS -- The World Series managers announced their starting pitchers Tuesday.

They didn't say who will pitch the sixth inning.

Or the fifth, for that matter.

Yeah, that was a joke, a weak one, but one even the Cardinals and Rangers starters themselves are telling after two playoff rounds that at least temporarily changed the way we look at starters.

No Cardinal starter went past the fifth inning against the Brewers. No Rangers starter has thrown a pitch in the seventh inning this entire postseason.

It's enough to make you forget that both these teams had decent to good rotations during the regular season. It's enough to make you forget that the Cardinals only got through the first round because of the best-pitched game of the playoffs so far -- Chris Carpenter's three-hit shutout in Game 5 against the Phillies.

2011 World Series
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By overcoming a 10½-game deficit and 17 players on the DL, the Cards are the most unlikely Series team ever. Read>>
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These two bullpens are good, and these two managers aren't afraid to use them. But it's not as if they're hoping to use them early.

Really, it isn't.

"No, we haven't completely changed the game," Cardinals Game 3 starter Kyle Lohse said with a chuckle. "We're not going with 12 relievers. But I was joking about that the other day, that we're not really starters."

The Rangers rotation actually had the third-best ERA in the American League in the regular season (3.65), behind only the Rays and the Angels. The Cardinals rotation was middle of the pack, eighth in the 16-team National League at 3.81.

Both were much better over six months than they've been over the last three weeks (5.43 for the Cardinals, 5.62 for the Rangers).

"Their starting staff, by the way, is no joke," the Cardinals' Skip Schumaker said Tuesday.

Both teams are staying with the same four starters they've used through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Cardinals will go with Carpenter in Game 1, followed by Jaime Garcia, Lohse and Edwin Jackson. The Rangers have announced C.J. Wilson and Colby Lewis for the first two games, but haven't yet said whether Derek Holland or Matt Harrison will start Game 3 (the other would go in Game 4).

Lewis and Wilson are the only Rangers starters who have gone past the fifth inning in this postseason, with Lewis pitching into the sixth inning twice, and Wilson doing it once.

"Trust me, we like the attention we're getting in the bullpen, but we'd love for those guys to give us seven or eight strong innings," Rangers reliever Mike Adams said. "I would love to see one of these guys go eight."

The Cardinals feel the same way.

"I told someone that it's nice to know that next year I only have to go five, with the bullpen going four," injured Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright said. "But you take the ball with the intention of throwing the last pitch. There is some solace in knowing that if you don't, the bullpen has got your back."

In this postseason, the bullpen has had the back end of the game, and in too many cases the front end of the game, too.

In the World Series, don't be shocked if that changes.

"I really think the key is going to be the starters," Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman said. "And both sides have very capable starters."

Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:21 pm

Rangers hope they're ready for the St. Louis cold

ST. LOUIS -- When the Rangers played in Detroit in early April 2009, the game-time temperatures were in the low 50s.

"Super super cold," Elvis Andrus remembers.

When the Rangers open the World Series Wednesday night at Busch Stadium, the temperature is expected to be in the high 40s.

For a Venezuelan-born shortstop and his Texas teammates, super super cold.

"It's super cold already for me," Andrus said Tuesday, when the Rangers worked out in preparation for the World Series. "I don't like weather like that. But I'll put baby oil and red hot on my legs."

This week is much colder than last week in St. Louis, but you could say it's just normal World Series weather. The game-time temperatures for the three Cardinals home games in the 2006 World Series were 43, 53 and 47 degrees. Game-time temperatures were in the 40s for the 1987 World Series in St. Louis, too.

"I'm wearing everything," Rangers reliever Mike Adams said. "Leggings, long sleeves, a beanie, up until the time I get loose."

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or