In what has truly turned out to be one of the wildest series in the history of baseball betting action, the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals are still going at it. Game 7, which is a day later than originally scheduled, is set for Friday night for all the marbles in the 2011 MLB betting season.
It’s not often that a team gets within one game of winning a championship and blows it. Heck, you have to go back to 2002 to find the last time that there even was a Game 7 of a Fall Classic. It’s even rarer to see a team get within one out of clinching a title. The Boston Red Sox were there when Billy Buckner happened, and the time before that was in 1911. However, never… ever… in the history of baseball, was a team this close to winning it all… twice. That’s right, the Rangers were just one strike away from clinching up their first title in team history in both the 9th and 10th innings, and in both cases, they were denied. How a team gets up off of the mat from that to place baseball the very next night is beyond us. The thought was that Derek Holland would potentially be used in Game 7, but since he pitched two innings last night, there really isn’t a way that he could likely even pitch, let alone start this game. It’ll be all hands on deck though, as every reliever in the bullpen and Holland were used just to get through this game, though Mark Lowe only threw one single pitch… the one that was planted over the center field wall to force this Game 7. To make matters worse, Mike Napoli had to have his hand x-rayed and Nelson Cruz strained his groin. With this being the last game of the season though, both are expected to give it a go. Matt Harrison gets the call as the starter on normal rest, and he might be expected to throw more innings now than he normally does with the bullpen so taxed. Everyone, save for perhaps Holland and last night’s starter, Colby Lewis, should be available if needed though, in relief.
Whatever the Cardinals are eating for breakfast, we want to know about it. Cats have nine lives. We’ve lost count of how many lives that this has been for St. Louis. Think about where this team has come from for a second. They were once 8.5 games out in September of the Atlanta Braves for the NL Wild Card. They were down 2-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. Heck, they had to face Roy Halladay in Game 7 in Philly and needed a miracle of a game by Chris Carpenter to get the job done. They had fallen behind the Milwaukee Brewers by a game in the NLCS and needed to win one out of two games at Miller Park, a place where opponents came to die this year, just to make it into the World Series. They blew leads of 1-0 and 2-1 in this series to come into Friday night’s do or die game. They were down 1-0-, 3-2, 4-3, and 7-4, before cutting the lead to 7-5 in the ninth inning, with two outs and two strikes to David Freese. In his first ever at bat against one of the best closers in baseball, Neftali Feliz, Freese blasted a two run triple on that final strike. Texas scored two runs in the 10th inning, and once again, St. Louis found itself down two runs with two outs and two strikes on its final batter. Again, it wasn’t enough to keep this team down, as Lance Berkman hit the two run single to get the job done. Freese finally ended it in the 11th with a walk-off home run. Oh, and as we wonder what angel is continuing to watch over the Redbirds, we have to remember that the game that was scheduled to be on Wednesday was rained out, which gave one more day for Carpenter, the man tossed the complete game shutout to put St. Louis in the playoffs and then threw another one a week and change later in Game 5 against the Phils, to win the title. Otherwise, Carpenter probably would have been used in relief in Game 6 and would not be available for this one. Every reliever was used on Thursday for Manager Tony La Russa, including using Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, and most importantly, closer Jason Motte for more than just one inning. It could become interesting to see who is available should Carpenter need help from his bullpen.
Texas Rangers @ St. Louis Cardinals Pick: We’re convinced that the Rangers, a team that has never won a championship, is just cursed at this point, while the Cardinals clearly have Lady Luck on their side. The MLB odds just don’t matter. We can eye eyeball this one. It’s clearly going to be St. Louis that finds just some way, some how, to get the job done on Friday night to win yet another championship and to become the most unlikely of champions that this game has seen in quite some time.
MLB Pick: St. Louis Cardinals -145 at Bookmaker Sportsbook.
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.