World Series Game 2 preview: Rangers look to Lewis to get even
According to recent history, the Cardinals' Game 1 win at home Wednesday night was extremely significant. The last 10 teams to win Game 1 of the World Series at home have gone on to win the Series, a streak that dates back to 1993, and seven of the last eight Game 1 winners, regardless of where they played, went on to become world champions, the lone exception being the 2009 Phillies, who won Game 1 on the road but lost to the Yankees in six.
The Game 1 winner also won 19 of the last 23 series, though over the Series' entire 106-year history, the winner of Game 1 has won only a small majority of the World Series, winning 65 of 106 or 61 percent.
In the wild card era, only one of the 10 teams team to fall behind 2-games-to-0 has rallied to win the series, that being the 1996 Yankees who lost the first two games in the Bronx before winning four straight. The most recent team to fall in an 0-2 hole? Last year's Rangers, who never recovered, falling to the Giants in five.
Of course, this Series is still taking shape, and the Cardinals' one-run victory in Game 1, though significant, did little to challenge the widespread belief that this is a very evenly-matched series.
• Texas' Colby Lewis made one start in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs, both times striking out six against two walks in roughly six innings, but with very different results otherwise. In Game 3 of the Division Series against the Rays, he held Tampa Bay to just those two walks and a Desmond Jennings solo home run in six frames, picking up the win. In Game 3 of the ALCS against the Tigers, he gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings on eight hits, two of them solo homers, and took the loss.
Both starts came on the road, which played to Lewis's significant regular-season split. His road ERA this year was more than two runs better than his home mark, and he struck out nearly three more men per nine innings, issued walks at a lower rate and was twice as hard to hit a home run against on the road compared to in Arlington. After two road starts this postseason, his ERA, strikeout, and walk rates are all in line with his regular-season road marks, but his home run rate, three in 11 2/3 innings, is off the charts.
• If Skip Schumaker gets the start at second base tonight, only two members of the Cardinals' starting lineup will have faced Lewis before, Lance Berkman, who went 2-for-5 with a triple and a walk against Lewis in last year's ALCS but was 0-for-7 against him prior to that, and Albert Pujols, who singled in his only career plate appearance against Lewis back in 2007. Ryan Theriot (2-for-3, sac bunt) and former American Leaguers Nick Punto (0-for-3, BB, HBP) and Gerald Laird (3-for-8, 2B, HR) are the only other Cardinals ever to face Lewis.
• Punto was an unexpected choice to start at second base against the lefty C.J. Wilson in Game 1 as Ryan Theriot has typically gotten the not against lefty starters. Against Lewis, the sole righty in the Rangers rotation, the switch-hitting Punto, who went 1-for-2 with two walks Wednesday night, could be out there again, though the recently re-activated Schumaker seems the more likely choice.
• With lefty Jaime Garcia on the mound for the Cardinals, the Rangers will likely start Craig Gentry over David Murphy, putting Gentry in centerfield and moving Josh Hamilton to left. Hamilton played a fine centerfield in Game 1 but his injured groin seemed to be particularly painful during his eighth-inning at-bat and he did not have a fielding chance in the bottom half of that inning.
• Garcia has made three starts this postseason with his only dud coming in his lone road start. In Game 1 of the NLCS in Milwaukee, Garcia gave up six runs in four-plus innings, four of them scoring on consecutive pitches in the fifth inning. In his two home starts this postseason, Garcia has allowed just four runs in 11 2/3 innings (3.09 ERA), but he was out-dueled by Philadelphia's Cole Hamels in Game 3 of the Division Series, taking a tough 3-2 loss with the only runs he allowed coming on a seventh-inning pinch-hit homer by Ben Francisco.
Likely sensitive to the fact that Garcia had lost both of his previous starts in a hurry, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa removed Garcia with two outs in the fifth inning of Game 5 of the NLCS after a trio of Brewers singles plated Milwaukee's only run of the game. The St. Louis bullpen held on to win, of course. Expect La Russa to be similarly quick with the hook if he has to tonight.
• Garcia's home ERA was more than two runs lower than his road mark during the regular season, but that was likely due to a more-than-one-hundred-point swing in his opponents' batting average on balls in play, which is to say he just had a lot of bad luck on the road. He actually had slightly better strikeout and walk rates on the road, and allowed only three more home runs in 3 1/3 fewer innings away from the new Busch Stadium.
• The only Rangers to have faced Garcia before tonight are second- and third-string catchers Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor. They have combined for a single, a walk, and four strikeouts in eight plate appearances against the 25-year-old lefty.
• Speaking of Torrealba, per Rangers manager Ron Washington's post-game press conference, the only reason Esteban German, and not Torrealba, pinch-hit for the pitcher with two on and two out in the seventh inning of Game 1 was that Washington liked the matchup better, citing German's ability to hit off-speed pitches. German hadn't come to the plate since September 25 and struck out on three pitches, swinging and missing at a pair of sliders to end the inning.
• Picking up where they left off in the NLCS, five Cardinals relievers combined to throw three scoreless innings to nail down the Game 1 win, with Fernando Salas allowing the only baserunners on a single and a walk in the seventh. Meanwhile, the Rangers' Alexi Ogando has surrendered key hits in two of his last three appearances, giving up a game-tying home run to Brandon Inge in the seventh inning of Game 4 of the ALCS and what proved to be the game-winning hit to Allen Craig in the sixth inning Wednesday night.
• Five of the Cardinals' six home games in this postseason have been decided by one or two runs. The only time a team has scored more than five runs at Busch Stadium this October is when the Cardinals put up a seven spot on Zack Greinke and the Brewers in Game 5 of the NLCS.
• La Russa said that he would use Edwin Jackson in relief in Game 2 if necessary. If that happens, Jake Westbrook would likely become the Cardinals' Game 4 starter