Following Sunday’s 4-0 win by Texas Rangers that evened the MLB baseball World Series against St. Louis Cardinals at two games apiece we are assured of a return to St. Louis and a Series that will last at least six.
Although not a surprise that the Series is even heading into Monday night, what is shocking is how low scoring it has been. Through four games a total of just 35 runs have been scored. While that average of 8.75 runs is not all that low of an average, factor out St. Louis Cardinals 16-7 win in Game 3 and the other three games producing just 12 total runs, an average of just 4.0 per game with each staying well UNDER.
Starting pitchers on both teams who had struggled during earlier rounds of the Playoffs pitched well.
In fact, after no St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher lasted more than five innings in the NLCS against Milwaukee three of the St. Louis Cardinals starters in the first four games of the MLB baseball World Series pitched into the sixth inning.
Only one Texas Rangers starter lasted at least six innings in the ALCS against Detroit but thus far two of the Texas Rangers staff last that long against St. Louis Cardinals, including lefty Derek Holland who pitched 8 1/3 innings in Sunday’s 4-0 victory.
Monday’s Game 5 matchup featured a rematch of Game 1, won by St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 in which both Texas Rangers starter CJ Wilson and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter pitched 5 2/3 and 6 innings respectively.
Entering Monday this was now a best of three series and Texas Rangers was favored to win at a price from -125 to -130, a decrease from what the Rangers were favored before Game 1 by about 30 to 40 cents.
If St. Louis Cardinals wins Game 5 and returns home up 3-2 they most likely will win the MLB baseball World Series as it would be hard to make a case for the Texas Rangers to sweep both contests without the DH in the National League park.
If the Texas Rangers head to St. Louis Cardinals up 3-2 they would make for an attractive play as underdogs in Game 6.
The likely matchup in Game 6 would be the same as Game 2 when Texas Rangers’ starter Colby Lewis and St. Louis Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia pitched lights out. Texas Rangers scored two runs in the top of the ninth to win 2-1.
A Game 7 match might see a repeat of Game 3 between Kyle Lohse and Matt Harrison although given as how this was the one high scoring game of the series and in which neither starter made it out of the fourth inning we could see a change of plans.
Might Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington turn to Alexi Ogando, perhaps even in Game 6?
Although pitching in the bullpen during the Playoffs, Ogando started 29 games in the regular season and posted a solid 3.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.
That would catch the St. Louis Cardinals by surprise and Ogando would make for a solid play in either Game 6 or 7 regardless of where the series stands.
Despite the strong statistical support for high scoring games it appears the weather conditions in St. Louis Cardinals contributed greatly to pitching having the edge. Such conditions might repeat in Games 6 and 7, especially because they are played at night with temperatures in the high 40’s and low 50’s not uncommon at this time of year.
Also, Game 6 will be an elimination game for one of the teams and as such the managers will be quicker to pull a struggling starter. Since both clubs aces pitching Monday, the total in St. Louis Cardinals might be 8 for Games 6 or 7.
If so, a play on the UNDER would be preferred to a play on the side.
As to the side play, as indicated above, Texas Rangers would be an attractive underdog in Game 6 if up 3-2. But because St. Louis Cardinals would be in an elimination game it would take a price of +150 or more before pulling the trigger on the Texas Rangers to eliminate the St. Louis Cardinals, although Ogando could be played at +130 or more.
It would be more difficult to support a play on the Texas Rangers in a Game 7 unless they were underdogs of +150 or more (or Ogando starts in which case +120 or more is acceptable).
If St. Louis Cardinals returns home with a chance to end the series in Game 6, the home side would be playable at -140 or less provided Ogando does not start for Texas Rangers (which is likely as Lewis is currently scheduled for that start).
Regardless of the outcome it’s been an exciting and entertaining MLB baseball World Series with St. Louis Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols’ performance in Saturday’s Game 3 one for the ages with three homers and hits in four consecutive innings, something never done in major league history.
It will be most interesting to see how Pujols performs in what could be his final game or two in St. Louis Cardinals before hitting the free agency market in the off season. Nelson Cruz has also enjoyed a stellar postseason for Texas Rangers as a prolific home run hitter.
And although it seems a long way off, pitchers and catchers report for 2012 spring training in less than four months.
Enjoy the offseason!