For the second consecutive year, the Texas Rangers have played their way into the World Series by easily defeating the Detroit Tigers at The Ballpark at Arlington 15-5 on Saturday to win the American League Championship Series 4-2. Although Texas lost to the San Francisco Giants in last year's Series, before last season the club had not won a post-season game since relocating to Texas from Washington, D.C. in 1972.
Saturday’s win earned the Rangers a best-of-seven game series against the St. Louis Cardinals who eliminated the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLCS to return to Major League Baseball's Fall Classic for the first time since they won it all in 2006. Since the National League won the All-Star game, the Cards will have home-field advantage, hosting games, 1, 2, 6 and 7 while the Rangers play the middle games of the Series at home. Most pundits feel the home field advantage gives St. Louis an edge in the Series, but do not count the Rangers out just yet with the offensive fireworks they displayed against the Tigers.
The clubs boast the hottest hitters in the playoffs in Texas' Nelson Cruz who set a record for MLB playoff home runs with 6 and David Freese who was awarded the NLCS MVP for his amazing series stats, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs and .545 batting average. St. Louis had a similar outcome against the Brewers, prevailing 12-5 in the deciding game. Much like the Rangers, the Cardinals benefitted from a crack bullpen which Freese cited as the reason his team got to the World Series.
"I wish I could make 8 or 9 more of these [NLCS MVP trophies] and give them to our relievers. They are the real reason we won the [NLCS] series," said Freese on MLB.com
Cruz has been unstoppable at the plate in the post-season, winning the ALCS MVP for his exceptional offensive performance, driving in 13 RBIs to go along with his record, 6 homers including this sixth blast over the fence on Detroit pitcher, Brad Penny in the 7th inning of Game 6. Cruz is fast becoming known for his playoff heroics filling the shoes of perennial “Mr. October”, Reggie Jackson. The big difference? Cruz does not strike out nearly as much as strikeout king, Jackson did. Cruz has 12 HRs in 26 career playoff games making a case as Reggie’s heir apparent.
"It was fun to watch," said Cruz’s teammate Josh Hamilton, last year's ALCS MVP. "It's one thing to be in the stands. But when you're down here on the field with him, you can see the intensity, see the focus. To watch him do that was incredible. ... When Nellie gets in those streaks, they can come at any time. That's what the funnest part is. Every at-bat when he's up there, it could be the at-bat where he hits another one."
Although baseball analysts have given a slight nod to St. Louis regarding who is favored in the World Series, Vegas odds makers have chosen Texas according to Bloomberg.com. Bettors will have to put down $120 dollars on the Rangers to win $100. We like the odds makers’ choice.
Game Date/Time: Wednesday, October 19, TBD
Stadium: Busch Stadium, St Louis, Missouri
Texas Rangers: C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA)
St. Louis Cardinals: Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA)
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