(BaseballStL)--There is an old baseball adage that momentum is only as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher. What it means is that in baseball, unlike some of the other sports, that momentum doesn’t really happen.
Each game is independent of another and that there is no carryover effect. It also means that pitching is the name of the game. All of that is the backdrop for tonight’s Game 5 of the 2011 World Series. The Cardinals and the Rangers have now traded wins through the first four games, leaving the Series tied at 2-2 and making the World Series a best of three event. First to two wins will be the winner of the Championship.
What has been interesting in this series has been that when teams absolutely needed to win a game in this series they have. After the Cardinals won Game One, the Rangers “needed” to win a game, because they didn’t want to go home down 0-2. They managed to score two runs in the ninth and they tied the series. Game Three came around and there was great fear that the Rangers could run the table here in Arlington and the Cardinals needed to stem their momentum. Albert Pujols answered that emphatically.
Then we get to Game Four. If the Cardinals had won Game Four, the Rangers would be down 3-1 with the prospect of having to win three straight by beating Chris Carpenter and then having to win two more at Busch Stadium. Not entirely impossible, but a very difficult task. So Derek Holland has a huge night, shuts down the Cardinals and the Rangers re-gain the momentum by tying the series 2-2.
The momentum pendulum has continued to swing back and forth throughout this series and it is difficult to see which way it is going to swing now. The Rangers feel great and have C.J. Wilson on the mound tonight. Wilson has been their best pitcher all year and there is no one they would rather have pitching in a “must win” game.
Meanwhile the Cardinals have Chris Carpenter going tonight and there may not be a pitcher in the world that the Cardinals want on the mound tonight than Carpenter. After Bob Gibson, Carpenter has been the greatest post-season pitcher in St. Louis Cardinals history.
A win tonight gives the Cardinals the prospect of just having to win one game at Busch Stadium while forcing the Rangers to have to win two at Busch. Meanwhile a loss tonight for the Cardinals would be devastating. I don’t think anyone likes the prospects of having to win a Game 6 with Jaime Garcia AND a Game 7 with Kyle Lohse. To me the Cardinals have to have this one tonight. Their backs are now the ones against the wall. If you lose a game with Chris Carpenter on the mound the repercussions would be devastating.
The theatre will be great tonight. In a Series that has had numerous must win games, Game Five will be the ultimate for these two teams. The momentum is back with the Texas Rangers, but the Cardinals have the momentum stopper in Chris Carpenter.
-Tim Klutsarits, BaseballStL News 4