Coming off a magical pitching performance by Derek Holland, the Texas Rangers look to carry the momentum into Game Five of the World Series when they host the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, on Monday night.
The Cardinals couldn't score a run and managed only two hits and three walks against Holland and Neftali Feliz -- only one game after racking up 16 runs against Rangers' pitching in Game Four.
Chris Carpenter takes the mound for St. Louis in Game Five, with C.J. Wilson as the starting pitcher for Texas.
Wilson has had a forgettable postseason. He has a 7.17 earned run average in four starts, but Holland was coming off two awful starts, and he found a way to rebound. Wilson is certainly a quality pitcher, and is going into a free-agent offseason. If there was a time to shine for the 25-year-old, it would be now.
Wilson was very good in last season's postseason, and during the 2011 regular season he finished with a 2.94 ERA. His two-seam fastball has a lot of movement, and he can be unhittable at times. Of every starting pitchers on the two rosters, Wilson is the one that is most due for a strong performance.
After a poor start to begin the postseason, Carpenter is back on track, and has shown flashes of the pitcher who won the 2005 National League Cy Young.
Despite a drop off in ERA over the past two seasons, Carpenter remains a legitimate ace. He has an excellent curve ball, and is still effective with his two-seam and four-seam fastballs, but is most skilled at throwing off the timing of opposing hitters.
Manager Tony La Russa knows that Carpenter is the most important starter on his squad, so there is a lot of pressure for the 36-year-old to perform.
Postseason is just at a different level, Carpenter said, according to ESPN. I think the guys that are successful maybe might be a little more relaxed and able to deal with the distractions that I am talking about a little better because there is a lot of them. But I don't think that it should define -- if you scuffle in the postseason, it shouldn't define what type of player you are. That could just be that series.
The big question for St. Louis will be the bats. The Cardinals are due for some hits after being shutout by Holland, and have shown the ability to come back from poor hitting performances in their following game. St. Louis has an impressive .272 batting average in the postseason, but have scored only four runs in three World Series games.
It will be interesting to see if slugger Albert Pujols can regain his stroke in Game Five after hitting three homers in Game Three.
The Rangers bats could use some production from Josh Hamilton and Michael Young. The No. 3 and No. 4 hitters have had their struggles in the World Series, with a total of five hits and only one walk in a combined 31 at-bats. Hamilton hasn't hit a home run in over a month.
But Game Five will likely come down to the two starters. Though both bullpens have played an important role in the series, don't be surprised if Ron Washington and La Russa trust their starters to go deep should they look impressive in the early innings.
PREDICTION: St. Louis 2, Rangers 1.