The Texas Rangers seek their first-ever World Series Championship tonight, as play finally gets set to get underway for Game 6 in St. Louis. The Cardinals hope to avoid another blunder in the bullpen as happened in Game 5, however with everything on the line tonight at home, there’s no doubt that skipper Tony LaRussa will be double-checking any pitching call-ups, conferring with his staff and players and will be fully prepared to take on a must-win scenario for St. Louis tonight. Even with all the preparation and an extra day of rest after yesterday’s call-off of Game 6 due to inclement weather, the Cardinals will still have to contend with one of the Rangers most successful postseason pitchers, Colby Lewis (4-1, 2.22 ERA lifetime in the playoffs), who gets set to take on another valiant effort at home by the young Jaime Garcia (0-2, 3.97 ERA in the playoffs).
While Garcia has been somewhat a victim of a lack of run production for him this postseason, once again he’ll need to keep the scoring to a minimum while in opposition to the very steady Colby Lewis, in order to give the Cardinals a chance in this ballgame. With the heart of the St. Louis line-up faltering in the last few games and the team going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position in Game 5, they’ll no doubt have the challenge of expecting to have to do well while one of the best young pitchers continues to put in good innings. Coming off an outstanding but unrewarding performance in Game 2 (7 innings, 7 K’s, no earned runs, no decision), Garcia simply needs to continue his use of the bottom half of the strike zone, utilizing his very good off-speed pitches to keep the heart of the Texas line-up off the base paths and hitting ground ball outs. On the flipside, Colby Lewis will continue to try and tip-toe around Albert Pujols in the heart of the order, while maintaining his strong strikeout-to-walk ratio of 16:6 for this postseason. Both pitchers have been placed in big-game scenarios like this in the 2011 playoffs, so by all means expect both of them to be in top form heading into this crucial Game 6 tonight.
Betting lines for St. Louis vs. Texas, Game 6:
Betonline.com Sportsbook has the host tame Cardinals as a slight favorite to win at home on the money line, getting -115 odds behind Jaime Garcia. Colby Lewis and the Texas Rangers are a +105 underdog, while the spread is at 1.5 runs given to Texas (-210 odds) and taken from St. Louis (+180 odds). The over/under with two good pitchers on the mound stands at 7 runs, and with St. Louis’ bullpen likely to be on their best tonight for Garcia, we could see very minimal scoring in the late innings, making this match-up a good option for going under on the total runs line.
Our Pick to Win:
Maybe it’s a bit of sentiment playing a part tonight, but I want to see St. Louis knot the series up at 3 games apiece in order to push a final Game 7 at Busch Stadium on Friday Night. It’s high time that the Cardinals bats earned their paycheck in this series, as outside of a flood of offense in Game 3, St. Louis has only generated 6 runs over 4 Games including just 2 runs in the last two games combined. Behind a raucous crowd at home, look for St. Louis to employ more small-ball against Lewis, who simply owned the Cardinals lineup giving up just 1 run and 4 hits in 6 1/3 innings of work on October 20th, and pull out a clutch victory to push Game 7, 3-2.
Players to Watch, St. Louis:
Albert Pujols, 1B – After being shut down in the last two games in Texas going 0-for-6 with 3 walks, the Rangers seem to have found the right way to pitch to Prince Albert….simply avoid him. Therefore it’s going to be especially important for both Rafael Furcal and John Jay hitting before Pujols in the lineup to be on base as often as possible, to make walking the big slugger all the more difficult. One swing from this guy could be the difference tonight.
Matt Holliday, LF – Batting just behind Pujols, there’s a high likelihood that Holliday will see a couple of situations with runners on base. Hitting just 3-for-18 in this series, there’s no doubt that Holliday has to be a better contributor in a pivotal Game 6 if St. Louis is to push a final Game 7.
Players to Watch, Texas:
Nelson Cruz, RF – Cruz has been chugging along getting a hit and a run scored in each of the last three games of this series while drawing 4 walks. As Garcia looks to pitch around Cruz tonight his presence on the base path is likely to be quite frequent, and hopefully for the Rangers he can return an errant 2-1 pitch to the left field bleachers.
Elvis Andrus, SS – Having hit safely in 4 straight games, Andrus along with Ian Kinsler will need to show some speed and aggressive base running tonight with runs likely to come at a premium. The 23 year-old could make life difficult for Jaime Garcia if he can get on in the early innings and force the pitcher out of his rhythm while trying to keep Andrus honest.