There is no way baseball could top last night, could they? I would say no, but the answer to that question has been "yes" so many times in the last two months, I am almost expecting a 22-inning marathon featuring a walk-off home run by right fielder Kyle Lohse.
It certainly doesn't need such high drama though. "Game Seven" already carries such intrigue by its nature. Every pitch is critical, and no pitcher or bat will be wasted on the bench, especially with Tony La Russa in one dugout.
The Cardinals will start the game with Chris Carpenter on three days rest. There have been eight consecutive World Series Game 7's won by the home team, so the Cardinals have to be fairly confident with their ace on the hill to start the game. Still, Carpenter has only started on short rest once, and he allowed four runs in three innings against the Phillies in the NLDS Game 1 this season.
|2011 - Chris Carpenter||11-9||34||34||4||2||0||0||237.1||243||98||91||16||55||191||3.45||1.26|
First out of the pen for St. Louis will be Jake Westbrook, while Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson are both available for work. The lineup they will face to start:
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Michael Young, 1B
5. Adrian Beltre, 3B
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Mike Napoli, C
8. David Murphy, LF
9. Matt Harrison, LHP
Yep. Both Cruz (groin) and Napoli (ankle) are pushing through difficult injuries sustained last night to start in the final baseball game of 2011. Ron Washington's starter is lefty Matt Harrison, who by most metrics, was actually better than Derek Holland this season. For the Rangers to win their first ever World Series title, they will have to be the first team in 32 years to win a World Series Game 7 on the road. Matt Harrison is key.
|2011 - Matt Harrison||14-9||31||30||0||0||0||0||185.2||180||79||70||13||57||126||3.39||1.28|
Beleaguered ace C.J. Wilson is available for work out of the pen if needed. The line-up the Rangers hurlers will face:
1. Ryan Theriot, 2B
2. Allen Craig, LF
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Lance Berkman, RF
5. David Freese, 3B
6. Yadier Molina, C
7. Rafael Furcal, SS
8. Skip Schumaker, CF
9. Chris Carpenter, RHP
Matt Holliday, who has been bothered by a finger injury for two months, either fractured a pinky or sprained his wrist while getting picked off third base last night. MLB has agreed the injury is significant enough to otherwise require a DL stint, so the Cardinals have opted to replace him on the roster with rookie Adron Chambers. Allen Craig gets the start in left field for Holliday. Given the injuries and performance of late, there doesn't seem to be much of a loss offensively between the two, but Craig is actually an inferior defender to Holliday. Moreover, Chambers is a huge downgrade from Craig as a late-inning pinch hitter.
Analysis time over. Make sure you get a five hour supply of snacks and beer, spread it around you, and fasten yourself to your couch.