Thursday, October 20, 2011

World Series: Carpenter, Criag, Motte Give Cardinals Game One, 3-2, Win Over Rangers

Players of the Day for Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cardinals 3 Rangers 2

Game One Winner
St. Louis pressed their home field advantage with a 3-2 game one victory over the Texas Rangers with Cardinal starter Chris Carpenter getting the win and the managerial talents of Tony LaRussa on display for all the world to see.

Carpenter kept the Rangers off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Mike Napoli blasted a two-run homer down the right field line to tie the game at two-all. The Cardinals had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning, when Texas starter C.J. Wilson clipped leadoff batter Albert Pujols on the left ankle with an arrant fastball, Matt Holliday doubled down the right field line and Lance Berkman brought them both home with a solid single to right.

Craig's pinch-hit
single won the game.
With Carpenter watching from the bench, St. Louis scratched out the game winner in the bottom of the sixth. David Freese, hero and MVP of the NLCS, continued his hot hitting with a one out double and took third on a wild pitch. After Yadier Molina fanned for the second out and Nick Punto walked to put runners on first and third, LaRussa made the first of many managerial masterstrokes by lifting Carpenter for pinch-hitter Allen Craig. Ranger manager, Ron Washington countered by bringing in Alexi Ogando in relief of Willson, but Craig won the battle, sending a high liner down the right field line which eluded the glove of Nelson Cruz. Freese scored easily on the play and Punto took third, but the Cardinals could not further capitalize, though Rafael Furcal made a bid with a long fly ball to deep center that ended the inning.

Carpenter finished with six innings pitched, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk, striking out four. Fernando Salas came to the mound in the seventh and was the only Cardinal reliever to surrender either a hit or a walk, as he got one out in the frame before yielding a single to Cruz and a walk to Napoli. Mike Rzepczynski relieved Salas, promptly striking out a pair of Ranger pinch-hitters to end the threat.

Motte: a perfect
ninth for the save.
With that, the Cardinal bullpen went into high gear. Octabio Dotel got two outs in the eighth and ageless Arthur Rhodes got the third out, inducing a harless fly ball from slugger Josh Hamilton.

Jason Motte completed the victory with a flawless ninth inning, getting through the heart of the Rangers' order with ground outs by Michael Young and Adrian Beltre, and a fly ball to left off the bat of Nelson Cruz to earn the save and end the game.

The appearance was the ninth of the playoffs for Motte, who notched his fifth post-season save. In nine full innings of work during the playoffs, Motte has been tougher than nails, allowing just one hit and no walks, striking out seven. The last hit off Motte was in game four of the divisional series with the Phillies. He has been perfect ever since.

Though shaky during the regular season, when he blew four of 13 save opportunities, Motte turned it around in September as the Cardinals erased a 10 1/2 game lead by Atlanta in the wild card standings to clinch their playoff spot on the final day of the regular season. Motte had eight saves and two wins in September as the Cardinals won 18 and lost eight.

Game two is Thursday night in St. Louis at 8:05 pm EDT. The Cardinals will send Jaime Garcia to the mound to face Rangers' starter Colby Lewis. Garcia was 13-7 with a 3.56 ERA during the regular season and has two losses and a no decision in three 2011 post-season starts. Lewis was 14-10 during the regular season with a 4.40 ERA. In two playoff starts this season he's 1-1, with a 3.86 ERA.

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