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World Series Preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals
By: Nick Bracken - StatFox
Published: 10/18/2011  at  2:04:00 PM
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Game 1 First pitch: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. EDT
Series Line: Texas -155, St. Louis +135

The Texas Rangers will participate in the Fall Classic for the second time in as many years as they travel to St. Louis to begin the 2011 World Series against the Cardinals on Wednesday night. Ironically, thanks to Prince Fielder’s three-run homer run back in July’s All-Star Game, the Cardinals will get home-field advantage in the series due to the National League’s 5-1 win in the Midsummer Classic.

St. Louis and Texas have not faced each other since June of 2004. Both teams have been average against their opposing leagues, with Texas being just 9-9 versus the National League and St. Louis going just 8-7 versus the American League. Both teams’ rotations were awful in their respective LCS wins, as Texas starters posted a 6.59 ERA in 28.2 IP and St. Louis notched a 7.03 ERA in just 24.1 IP. Luckily, both bullpens were superb in LCS play, as the Rangers relievers had a 1.32 ERA in 27.1 innings and the Cards ‘pen had a 2.10 ERA in 25.2 innings. Expect more of the same in the World Series, as both lineups are crushing the ball. Texas has 27 runs on 38 hits in the past three games, while St. Louis scored 19 runs on 24 hits in the past two games. There isn’t much difference between these two clubs, but Texas has a superior lineup from top-to-bottom, especially if Cards slugger Albert Pujols is bothered by the wrist injury he suffered on Sunday night. The pick here is TEXAS to win the series.

The FoxSheets also expect the Rangers to prevail with this trend:

TEXAS is 61-30 (67.0%, +19.3 Units) against the money line vs. teams averaging 2.75 or less extra base hits per game in the second half of the season this season. The average score was TEXAS 5.9, OPPONENT 4.0 - (Rating = 2*).

The Rangers will send C.J Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA in regular season) to start Game 1 on Wednesday night. Wilson has had a nightmare postseason, going 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA. The Game 2 starter will be righty Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA in regular season). Lewis was hit hard in Game 3 of the ALCS, throwing 5.2 innings and allowing four runs on eight hits and was tagged with the loss.

The Rangers will need the Nelson Cruz of the ALCS not the Nelson Cruz of the ALDS to show up for the World Series. In the ALDS, Cruz went 1-for-15 with 0 RBI, but in the ALCS, Cruz hit .364 with a MLB single-series record six home runs and 13 RBI.

The Cardinals will send ace Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA in regular season) to the mound for Game 1. Carpenter went 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his final five regular-season starts, and then closed out the NLDS with a superb three-hit shutout in Philadelphia. But the Brewers got to him in the NLCS scoring three runs with nine base runners (6 H, 3 BB) in five innings. The Game 2 starter for St. Louis will be lefty Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA in regular season). Garcia has had a roller coaster postseason. He threw a quality start in the NLDS (7 IP, 3 ER), then was bombed in Game 1 of the NLCS (4 IP, 6 ER) before settling down in Game 5 (4.2 IP, 1 ER).

David Freese could be the 2011 version of the 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein for the Cardinals. Freese is batting a ridiculous .425 in the postseason, hitting safely in 10 straight playoff games. He has added five doubles, four homers and 14 RBI. With Lance Berkman struggling (.237 BA, one extra-base hit in 38 postseason AB), Freese may have to be that third bat to complement Matt Holliday and Albert Pujols, who is expected to be in the lineup despite suffering a wrist injury in the NLCS clincher.

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