The Narrative: The 2011 World Series is going to be a battle between two evenly matched teams, or so says every person with a microphone on television. It seems laughable that a team like the Texas Rangers who outscored the St. Louis Cardinals by 92 runs while allowing 15 less during the regular season in a tougher division, but funny things can happen in a single game, and funny things happened tonight for the Cardinals who enjoyed a 3-2 victory over the definitely not laughing Rangers.

A 3-2 score line would normally suggest a pitching duel, and while C.J. Wilson and Chris Carpenter had their moments of brilliance, both struggled at times in the early innings and never seemed to get into a rhythm. In the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals scored the first runs of the game with a Lance Berkman single that cashed in both Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday.

The next inning, Mike Napoli hit a two run homer to tie it up, but the Cardinals would go ahead for good in the sixth when Tony La Russa worked a little bit of this typical how-did-that-work-out-for-him (!?!?!) magic. From there, St. Louis relievers, other than Fernando Salas, didn’t allow a single base runner, as they coasted to victory over a suddenly punchless Texas.

Pretty Pictures

I wouldn’t want my skin touching Tony La Russa’s either. Batting gloves, it is.

Chris Carpenter dove glove first to reach first base before Elvis Andrus who ran out his ground ball and went out of his way to avoid stepping on Carpenter’s throwing hand which was also on the bag by the time he reached it. I wonder if Ty Cobb would’ve handled things any differently.

The view might be horrible, but at least the lineup for the concessions aren’t out of control.

I wonder what future, further evolved humans will think of sports fans from the past. The winning run of the game was scored on this play.

The Anatomy Of Confidence In A Reliever

With two out in the seventh and the pitcher due up, Rangers manager Ron Washington called on Esteban German as a pinch hitter. Yes, the same Esteban German that has had all of 89 plate appearances in the last three years.

The thinking is that German, a right handed batter, was called upon as a means of forcing Tony La Russa to take Marc Rzepczynski, a left handed pitcher who had just struck out  Craig Gentry, out of the game in favour of Octavio Dotel. La Russa stuck with Rzepczynski who, with two inherited runners on base, struck German out with three straight sliders.

  1. Takes a slider for a strike.
  2. Whiff.
  3. Whiff. Your out.

The Most Important Play Of The Game

Allen Craig, pinch hitting for Chris Carpenter with two out and runners on the corners in the sixth, hit a fastball from Alexi Ogando, who had just replaced starter C.J. Wilson, down the right field line, scoring David Freese for what ended up being the winning run and increasing the Cardinals win probability by 17.3%

The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game

With one out and runners on first and second, Marc Rzepczynski was brought into the game. He faced two batters and struck them both out to end the top of the seventh. He single-handedly decreased the Rangers’ probability of winning by 17%.

No reliever came close to facing that type of leverage in the game tonight, and no reliever was as successfully dominant as the former Blue Jays southpaw.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Texas Rangers catcher Mike Napoli went one for two with a game tying home run and a walk. He increased the Rangers win probability by 20.7% in a losing effort.

The Statistics You Won’t Believe

It took Yadier Molina 1.95 seconds from the time the ball reached his glove to get it to second base, when he threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal in the first inning.

Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson threw a total of 22 pitches in the first inning, but only 11 for strikes.

The first Derek Jeter reference of the broadcast came in the top of the second inning.

Nick Punto was intentionally walked for the fourth time this season in the fourth inning. Matt Holliday has also received four intentional walks this season.

At 18-1, Jon Jay and Mike Napoli had the exact same World Series MVP odds.

C.J. Wilson walked six batters. It was the first time in either the regular season or postseason that a Rangers starter walked as many as six.

Octavio Dotel has the highest strikeout rate (10.9/9 IP) in MLB history among all right-handers with 800+ innings.

The Aggravating Things That The Managers Did

Elvis Andrus had a .316 wOBA against right handed pitching this season, yet he batted second in the lineup by Ron Washington. To even things out, Tony La Russa batted Jon Jay second in his lineup. Jay had a .320 wOBA against left handed pitching, but C.J. Wilson has an above average split differential facing lefties versus righties.

Why not pitch to Nick Punto in the bottom of the fourth instead of walking him to face Chris Carpenter for the final out of the inning? The top of the order is now due up in fifth, but at least that includes Jon Jay.

The Worst Thing That The Broadcast Booth Did

It’s a five letter word. S-T-R-I-K-E.

- Tim McCarver

It’s Hard For Me To Believe That These Players Are Starting Game One Of The World Series

  • Jon Jay, CF, STL
  • Nick Punto, 2B, STL
  • David Murphy, LF, TEX

Stray Observations

Prior to the National Anthem being sung, I was wondering how I had never heard of Scotty McCreery. Then I heard him and understood completely.

The first time Nelson Cruz faced Chris Carpenter it seemed as though the pitcher wanted absolutely nothing to do with the batter, which  is strange for a guy hitting sixth in the lineup.

Your front door 91 mile per hour sinker of the game:

Albert Pujols runs like a 35 year old man. Hmm. Wait a minute.

I loved FOX’s use of the split screen with Josh Hamilton tracking the deep fly ball to center field with Lance Berkman preparing to tag up from first base in the bottom of the fourth inning.

On Mike Napoli’s game tying fifth inning home run: Anytime both Mike Scioscia and Tony La Russa can get hurt by the same play, consider me in favour of it.

The Texas Rangers’ infield defense makes me think that the Milwaukee Brewers might have underestimated the value of having someone better than Yuniesky Betancourt on their team.

I don’t know if this is something can scientifically happen, but Allen Craig’s RBI single in the sixth looked like it had a whole lot more to do with the velocity on Alexi Ogando’s fastball as opposed to Craig’s bat speed or mechanics.

The only thing more offensive than all of the pitching changes in this game would be something like leaving Octavio Dotel in to face Josh Hamilton.

I think it’s fairly safe to assume that if a ball comes off Adrian Beltre’s bat, it’s likely also hit his body somewhere.

Guys who look like they’re physically hurting: Beltre and Hamilton.

And your tweet of the night:

And the runner up.