Baseball fans finally get the grand finale going on Wednesday, as the 2011 Major League Baseball World Series gets set to start tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, as the St. Louis Cardinals host the Texas Rangers for the first two games in the best-of-seven series to decide the World Champion in MLB Baseball. With little else on the horizon for online sports betting at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here today, it’s time to jump all over tonight’s Game 1, breaking down the action for this game as well as an overview of the series to come. In order to properly engage in the pinnacle of the Major League Baseball season, we’ll of course have to throw down a few extra wagers ahead of game time (as we’ve already been jumpy to get a few wagers placed on the eventual World Series winner, and take advantage of early lines with better odds) with today’s betting action taking us to TopBet.com Sportsbook, one of the newest and most welcome entrants to our stable of top reviewed sportsbooks.
For the first wager of the series at TopBet.com, get set for an exciting Game 1 between two of the hardest hitting squads this MLB season, as the Texas Rangers, led by Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz, get set to showdown with the likes of Albert Pujols, David Freese and the rest of the talented St. Louis Cardinals offense. It gets even more intriguing due to the fact that these teams haven’t faced each other, even in interleague play, since 2004. Therefore, there is very little past record of batters vs. pitchers in this series, something that could very well be beneficial towards the pitching match-ups in each game played out. For example, only 5 players on St. Louis’ roster have ever faced C.J. Wilson, the Game 1 starter for Texas. It’s about the same for the Rangers against St. Louis’ opening game starter, Chris Carpenter, who despite being in the league since 1997, has seen only 6 Texas hitters, for a total of 37 at-bats. However, with the depth of power and precision in both line-ups, the hitters that haven’t faced these pitchers are what will be most fascinating to watch in this series, especially with Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, David Freese for St. Louis, and Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton and David Murphy for Texas having never stepped to the plate against opposition pitching in Game 1 tonight.
What’s also very interesting in this match-up tonight and for the series ahead, is that both teams managed to get past the AL and NL Championship Series without having one starter earn an quality appearance. Texas especially hasn’t had one of its pitchers go past 6 innings of work in this offseason, but has instead relied on their outstanding bullpen to shutdown games before one of their starters has an inning with crooked numbers late in the game. That philosophy seems taken right out of St. Louis’ manage Tony LaRussa’s book, who has also leaned heavily on his bullpen to close out games, and both teams have been blessed with their Top-5 offenses doing what they’re supposed to do; knock in runs at pivotal points during the game when it matters most in the postseason. With Texas averaging 7.2 runs per game in the ALCS, and St. Louis just higher at 7.4 runs per game against Milwaukee in the NLCS, there’s little doubt that we’re going to be seeing fireworks one way or another throughout this exciting series, unless either C.J. Wilson or Chris Carpenter or both can find a way to settle down in the World Series after two relatively mediocre performances in the Divisional and League Championship Series preceding this showdown.
C.J. Wilson steps in with an 0-2 record and a massive 8.04 ERA in this year’s postseason (1-4, 5.40 ERA in 7 lifetime starts in the playoffs), giving up a startling 6 home runs over 15 2/3 innings of work. That’s very out of synch with Wilson’s solid 16-7 record with a 2.94 ERA during the regular season, however Wilson has also had to step out on the mound against some of the best hitters in the league in two straight series. His job certainly won’t get any easier tonight, and his success lies in his ability to stay in control, keep base runners to a minimum, and avoid the big bomb from a number of capable St. Louis hitters. Meanwhile in opposition to Wilson tonight, Chris Carpenter hasn’t necessarily been sharp in two of his postseason outings, but he’s got enough of the job done in three postseason appearances, posting a 2-0 record with a 3.71 ERA in three starts (all St. Louis wins), and was pivotal in Game 5 against Philadelphia throwing a complete game shutout while giving up only three hits while pitching against Roy Halladay. Though don’t expect to see another outing like that for Carpenter tonight, as coach Tony LaRussa will likely keep Carpenter on a lower pitch count so he can be available again as early as Game 4 if needed, look for Carpenter to have an edge on Wilson in the pitching match-up (7-2, 3.11 ERA in 12 playoff starts), with more experience in big game showdowns.
Betting Lines for Texas vs. St. Louis, Game 1
To break into the betting today, we find the starting pitching featuring left-hander C.J. Wilson of Texas up against veteran Chris Carpenter of St. Louis giving St. Louis just a slight edge at home with -120 odds to win on the money line. Texas comes in as a small underdog at +110 odds, indicating a cautious approach by the bookmakers as these two teams haven’t met since 2004, and in Game 1 of any given World Series, anything can happen regardless of where the stage is set. With an over/under set at 7.5 runs, there’s also a cautious approach towards what impact the lack of plate appearances for both teams against opposing pitching will have, as the over/under is just about at each team’s average run production for their respectively LCS series. Lastly for betting lines, St. Louis gives up 1.5 runs at home at +165 odds, while Texas gets 1.5 runs at -195, with expectations of a tight Game 1 tonight.
Our Pick to Win Game 1:
While Texas certainly has more playoff experience lately, reaching the World Series for the second consecutive year, St. Louis rides into this series hot off of defeating their divisional rivals the Milwaukee Brewers, and has the better arm on the mound in tonight’s pitching duel. While I expect some give in the Cardinals pitching staff tonight considering the talented Texas batting order, the Cardinals will break C.J. Wilson early enough to hold out for a win in Game 1, by a score of 5-3.