Rangers/Cardinals: A Pitcher’s Duel
One team is owned by the only man to have tossed seven no-hitters. The only man to have struck out more than 5,000 batters. The only man to have beat the heck out of Robin Ventura. OK, that last one has little to do with baseball, but still proves Nolan Ryan’s toughness. The Rangers were built to pitch. “New” philosophies were introduced by Ryan and his management team. Pitchers would go longer in games. There would be less focus on pitch counts and more focus on results. They were going to win the way the Giants beat them in 2010; with pitching.
The other team started the year with two legitimate Cy Young candidates in Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. They had a potent offense, sure, but they also boasted a pitching coach who churned out four Cy Young award winners (LaMarr Hoyt, Bob Welch, Dennis Eckersley, and Chris Carpenter). They were managed by a man who focuses so much on pitching, he’s been known to change pitchers in the middle of an at-bat. They were going to breeze through this season and the play-offs on the strengths of their arms.
Then they had to play the games. Adam Wainwright blew out his arm. The Rangers were unable to re-sign Cliff Lee. And both teams finished the year outside the top-ten in ERA, and strikeouts. Neither team was horrible at pitching, but neither team was great. Yet, their offenses clicked at the right time. The Cardinals overcame an eight-game deficit in September to take the Wild Card while the Rangers fought off the Angels and their perennially competitive ways.
Two teams who were seemingly built on pitching, succeeded and plowed through the postseason on everything but. The Rangers put together a disappointing 4.40 ERA during the postseason so far. The Cardinals did not fair much better. They posted a 4.27 ERA. Their offenses fared a bit better. The Rangers scored a total of 55 runs. The Cardinals scored 62.
The second year into what many have dubbed “The Pitchers’ Era” has provided a postseason with very little pitching dominance. The World Series will likely be much of the same. The Rangers, and Nelson Cruz specifically, are so locked in, their offense doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up. The Cardinals, with the barber-shop quartet of Pujols, Berkman, Holliday, and Freese, should light up the scoreboards with regularity. So, keep plenty of pencils on hand if you plan to keep score. Your scorecard will be marked up more than a high school geometry test.