It was a thrilling evening to behold for baseball fans last night as the St. Louis Cardinals refused to say die and wound up coming back twice against the Texas Rangers before winning 10-9 in 11 innings and sending the 2011 World Series to a final Game 7 Friday Night at Busch Stadium. After one of the most clutch performances in recent postseason memory by the Cardinals’ David Freese, who not only delivered a game-saving triple in the 9th inning with two strikes on him but also hit the game-winning home run in the 11th, the Cardinals look to continue to overcome all odds at home tonight in what is certain to be the biggest event for Major League Baseball in the last few years. Make sure to not miss out on the grand finale to one of the best seasons for online sports betting, as the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals finish out what is sure to be a another history-making series for the record books.
Tonight’s match-up on the pitching mound is an intriguing one, especially considering that Cardinals’ starter Chris Carpenter will make his third start of the series and comes into tonight’s contest on just three days’ rest. Facing the Rangers’ Matt Harrison, who was knocked out early in the 16-7 St. Louis rout of the Rangers, Carpenter’s success will hinge on how well he can work his usual array of pitches, something that has been historically difficult for veteran pitchers pitching on just 3 days’ rest. History has been good for Carpenter in the postseason (3-0, 3.33 ERA this year, 8-2, 3.06 ERA lifetime in October), but with his only 3 days’ rest start of the postseason showing Carpenter getting tagged for 4 runs on 5 hits in 3 innings in the 2005 NLDS, that positive history starts to fade a little bit in this match-up.
Matt Harrison on the other hand gets the full confidence of manager Ron Washington today, as was evidenced by the fact that Texas threw starter Derek Holland on full rest last night in the 6th inning to help squash a St. Louis rally. Despite giving up 5 runs (3 earned) in just 3 innings of work in a blowout Game 3 (a blown call certainly didn’t help his cause), and posting a pedestrian 5.02 ERA with a 1-1 record this postseason, the left handed Harrison has pitched very well for Texas this season and will likely have the full support from his bullpen early on should anything go awry. I don’t expect either pitcher to last further than the 5th inning in this do-or-die showdown (unless Harrison is completely dominant), so factoring in both St. Louis and Texas bullpen’s into tonight’s outcome is crucial to getting the right online sports bet placed. That inclusion to the betting lines has certainly swung the tide in favor of the St. Louis Cardinals, given the meltdown that the Texas pitching staff experienced all night, and could be a big factor in weighing your wager for either the Cardinals or the Rangers.
Betting Lines for St. Louis vs. Texas, Game 7
There is glaring history for the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, who make their MLB record 11th appearance in a Game 7, with a 7-3 mark in those games to date. Despite losing its last two Game 7′s in 1985 and 87, this Cardinals team has shown it will never give up, having come back from two separate 2-out, 2 strike at-bats to even the game last night. Clutch is what the World Series is all about, and that certainly factors into St. Louis getting the favorite on the money line at Intertops.eu Sportsbook today, and take special consideration to the fact that the home team has won 8 consecutive times in the World Series when a Game 7 is forced. The lines have moved just slightly to -134 odds for Chris Carpenter and the Cards, while Matt Harrison and the Rangers come in at underdogs with +124 odds to win. Texas gets -180 odds to cover the spread at +1.5 runs, while St. Louis gets +160 odds at -1.5 runs, and the over/under for tonight’s game stands at 8, which could be vulnerable with pitchers on short rest, starters making appearances in later innings, and with both bullpens showing susceptibility to late rallies.
Our Pick to Win:
For the final game of the 2011 Major League Baseball season, Game 7 is certainly going to be one of the harder games to pick the outcome in, with so many factors coming into this match-up, and a bevy of possibilities on the mound and at the plate to consider. While I have serious reservations about a 36 year-old Chris Carpenter making a start on 3 days’ rest after already being seen twice by the Rangers line-up, he’s no doubt the best option St. Louis has tonight, with the otherwise available starters Kyle Lohse and Edwin Jackson each getting dinged in their previous starts, and no one on the Cardinals roster more experienced in big-game situations. On the other hand, the Texas Rangers haven’t lost consecutive games since August 25th during the regular season, have Matt Harrison on full rest for the start, and will no doubt be eager to come back and erase a meltdown loss last night to force Game 7. Without further tip-toeing around it, the Texas Rangers find a way to win tonight, despite potentially being without slugger Nelson Cruz in the line-up, and win a tough one on the road for their first World Series Championship, 5-4.
Players to Watch, Texas:
Josh Hamilton, LF – With Nelson Cruz looking likely to be out of the line-up with a strained groin, even more pressure is placed on Hamilton, who homered for the first time in the postseason last night, to provide the offensive punch for the Rangers. He’s hit in his last 4 games against St. Louis, and needs to lead the Rangers bats against Chris Carpenter tonight.
Adrian Beltre, 3B – Beltre has been cruising along in October, batting .292 with 5 homers and 9 RBIs in the heart of the Texas line-up. With home runs in the last two games, Beltre’s bat needs to stay active for that big swing that could come his way in a crucial Game 7.
Players to Watch, St. Louis:
David Freese, 3B – Freese could end up being the player that goes down in history for the Cards in the 2011 World Series. Hitting .393 for October with 5 homers and whopping 19 RBIs, Freese can’t be expected to come up with another game-saving triple with two strikes in the 9th AND hit the game-winning home run in the 11th inning, but you can count on his clutch hitting and opposite field power to make for a hit or two, and perhaps for him to drive in some runs. Note that Freese has only 2 games this postseason without a hit, so expect to see him on the base paths once more tonight, contributing as he has all throughout the playoffs.