And then there were two. Two teams that were the best in their leagues. Two teams filled with compelling, heartfelt stories of perseverance. Two teams so plucky and exciting they are sure to captivate the country, nay, the world as they compete for the World Series championship.
Bullshit. It’s the St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Texas Rangers.
No one outside of Missouri and Dallas gives a crap about these teams. But here’s who I think will win.
Game 1 pairs Texas’ C.J. Wilson with St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter. Wilson had the better regular season, winning five more games, striking out 15 more batters and posting an ERA a half-run lower. To help him out, only four Cardinals have ever faced him. Comeback Player of the Year Lance Berkman has seen Wilson the most with 18 appearances, but he’s batted just .214. No Cardinal has homered off Wilson, and such inexperience will mean the Cardinals will have to be dependent on game film more than personal experience.
While Texas’ Mike Napoli is the only Ranger to ever homer off Carpenter, seven have at-least faced him. That might give Texas a slight offensive advantage. They’ve also had the slightly stronger bullpen, so I’m giving Game 1 to Texas in a tight one on the road.
Cardinals fans, fear not: your team will win Game 2. Jaime Garcia has a distinct advantage over Colby Lewis. Garcia’s regular-season ERA is nearly a run lower, and Garcia is riding an NLCS win, whereas Lewis is coming off a loss to the offensively weaker Detroit Tigers. And Texas’ offense has struggled mightily in their limited exposure to Garcia, batting a combined .167 between the only two Texas hitters to ever face him, with neither homering nor driving in a run.
Against Lewis, meanwhile, St. Louis has batted twice as well. The Cardinals win this one in convincing fashion. Keep an eye out for catcher Gerald Lard: he’s batting .375 with a home run and four RBIs against Lewis.
We don’t yet know who the Rangers will start against Kyle Lohse in Game 3, but it shouldn’t matter: Lohse is 0-2 with a 7.45 ERA this postseason. Ranger Derek Holland hasn’t been all that good (1-0, 5.27 ERA, averaging fewer than five innings per start), but it doesn’t matter: teammate Michael Young, a DH who will get his usual position back when the Series heads to Arlington, has already homered three times off Lohse.
Matt Harrison has been better for the Rangers this postseason, going 1-0 in three games (two starts, both Rangers victories) with a 4.22 ERA. If Rangers manager Ron Washington wants to make sure he grabs Game 3, Harrison starts against Lohse. If he thinks his offense can win it, Holland starts Game 3. Either way, the Rangers should take it. And in Game 4, the Rangers have had lots of experience with Edwin Jackson, who hasn’t gotten out of the fifth inning since his NLDS start.
Ranger second baseman Ian Kinsler and third baseman Adrian Beltre could have a major impact on Game 4: Kinsler leads his team with two home runs and six RBIs against Garcia, and Beltre is batting .429 with two RBIs.
Carpenter won’t lose twice in two World Series starts, especially after the Cardinals get a game’s worth of at-bats against Wilson to figure him out. So the Cardinals win Game 5 and head back to St. Louis down 3-2.
I said before the NLCS that when the home team is down a game with two to play, either the away team clinches in one game or the home team wins it in two. Having a chance to win it all and failing is usually too debilitating for the away team to come back from, and the crowd will pump up the home team.
St. Louis has had the better offense throughout the postseason, and they’ve been a better base-stealing team as well (both teams have seven steals, but the Cardinals have converted 78 percent of their attempts to the Rangers’ 58). Garcia carries the Cardinals in Game 6, and then the momentum of a two-game winning streak carries the Cardinals in Game 7.
Prediction: Cardinals in 7
MVP: Jaime Garcia