Operation: Back to Busch

Operation: Back to Busch

Credit: AP

The Texas Rangers make their way off the field after batting practice before Game 2 of baseball's World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

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by Mike Swallow, BaseballStL

BaseballStL

Posted on October 21, 2011 at 5:45 PM

(BaseballStL) -- The St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers are headed back to Texas with the World Series tied at one game apiece.  Now, because of that split home-field advantage has shifted over to the Rangers.  The main goal for the Cardinals now is to get the series back to Busch Stadium.  The only way it won’t is if one of the teams sweeps the three games in Arlington but not many people project that to happen; even though Cardinals’ fans wouldn’t be opposed to seeing the birds go 3-0 in Texas. Let’s face it, this is baseball and stranger things have happened.  Realistically though the Cardinals have to go into Texas with the mindset of winning one if not two games and getting the series back to Busch, and here is how they do it.

The Ballpark in Arlington is without a doubt a hitter friendly ballpark.  Park factor is a statistic that compares the rate of stats at home vs. the rate of stats on the road.  A rate higher than 1.000 favors a hitter, below favors a pitcher.  In runs, The Ballpark in Arlington ranked first with a 1.409 park factor; AT&T Park was last at 0.737.  In homeruns, The Ballpark in Arlington ranked first again with a 1.500 park factor; AT&T Park was again last at 0.596.  So what does this all mean? It means Cardinals pitching has got to keep the ball down in the zone.  Game 3 Kyle Lohse needs to have a strong command of his changeup and let that pitch induce groundballs and make his defense work.  No word yet on who’s starting game 4 but you’d have to believe Jake Westbrook gets the nod.  Westbrook hasn’t pitched this postseason but he is a sinkerball pitcher and has the ability to get a lot of groundballs. The Rangers hit .296 at home during the regular season and .267 this postseason.  The Cardinals’ away E.R.A in the playoffs is 5.37.

The next key for the Cardinals to complete Operation: Back to Busch is to get the bats going.  Aside from Nick Punto, David Freese, Lance Berkman, and Allen Craig (2 for 2) no one has really hit.  Matt Holliday is batting .167 and Rafael Furcal is batting .143.   Three starters don’t even have a hit yet; Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina, and Jon Jay are a combined, 0 for 20 with no homeruns or RBI.  The Cardinals this postseason have hit an amazing .303 on the road and they need to find that stroke if they want to come out of Texas with a win.  

Jason Motte, although he hasn’t been named the closer, needs to be the one getting the ball in the ninth if the Cardinals have a lead.  Motte had not given up a run all postseason and had been lights out but in game 2 he just didn’t have his stuff.  He gave up two runs, one of them earned.  Tony LaRussa has got to keep Motte’s confidence up and put him out there in the next save situation.  Motte has been arguably the best reliever this postseason and is the best chance to save games, take him out of that role and the Cardinals may lose one of their best relievers.

The Cardinals are headed to Texas with a plan, win at least one and get the series back to Busch and take back home-field advantage.  Operation Back to Busch is now underway…forward march.

by Mike Swallow, BaseballStL

 

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