Blog Entry

Grading Game 4 of the World Series

Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:08 am

By Matt Snyder

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The "A" grade here isn't really going to shock you. But just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.

Derek Holland was just dazzling. We knew he was capable of this because he threw four shutouts this season -- including a stretch of three shutouts in five starts during July -- but we just hadn't seen it for a while. So Holland gave a refresher. He located his 95-mph fastball and impressively commanded his breaking pitches. It's funny, if you didn't watch the game, his line -- 8 1/3 innings pitched, two hits, two walks, seven strikeouts -- almost doesn't do him justice. But, if you did watch the game, and had never even seen or heard of Holland before, you'd have thought he was a Cy Young candidate. This against a Cardinals offense that obliterated the Rangers Saturday night. The best part was preserving the stressed Texas bullpen.

We'll go with Neftali Feliz here. He came on and walked Allen Craig, which brought Albert Pujols -- you may have heard something about his power following Saturday's game -- to the plate with two on and one out. That's bad. But then Feliz got a soft lineout from Pujols and struck out Matt Holliday to preserve the victory.

I've held off long enough. We're going with Ron Washington's lineup here. It worked out in Game 4 because Josh Hamilton doubled in Elvis Andrus in the first inning and then Mike Napoli came through with the big blow in the sixth. But, seriously, opposing pitchers have to be much more fearful of the Beltre/Cruz/Napoli portion of the order than the 2-3-4 spots at this point. Beltre didn't have a good game Sunday night, but collected four hits Saturday. Napoli and Cruz have to scare the daylights out of Cardinals fans with their prodigious power, too. Meanwhile, Andrus is being asked to bunt Ian Kinsler over in the fifth inning. Why not get to the power earlier in the lineup and give those guys more at-bats? Napoli batting eighth just doesn't make any sense at all.

World Series
Edwin Jackson could have been much worse, but seven walks in 5 1/3 innings is pretty bad. He at least saved the bullpen from having to work as hard as it did following Kyle Lohse's bad outing in Game 3. Still, Jackson was so inefficient due to his lack of command that he couldn't get through six. And, again, seven walks. Man, that's bad. But only three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings isn't near as F-worthy as ...

The Cardinals offense followed up a historic performance in Game 3 by being shut down. I'd particularly shine the flashlight on Pujols and Holliday. The duo of All-Stars is among the best 3-4 combos in baseball, but they combined to go 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and four men left on base in Game 4. This came against a left-hander, too, who is much worse against righties than lefties. The entire offense -- other than Lance Berkman, who gathered the Cardinals' only two hits -- deserves an F here, but the big names need to be held the most accountable.

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Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:47 pm

Grading Game 4 of the World Series

You can't argue with success (you can, but you can't win), but one would think that there are weaknesses to exploit that haven't truly been explored by either manager yet.

Lessons Unlearned:
Game 3 is a good example of why it's reasonable to question the sanity of any manager that chooses to pitch to Albert Pujols FIVE times in one series, much less in one game. Pujols' Game 4 is a good example of how managers fall prey to the mistake of taking the chance. Stay tuned to WHY it's a mistake to pitch to Albert Pujols within reach of a lead.

Overlooking the obvious:
Mike Napoli didn't win game 4...Josh Hamilton, Elvis Andrus, Derek Holland and Neftali Feliz won the game, and Edwin Jackson contributed more to the loss with a single, ill advised off-speed pitch to Hamilton in the first inning, than all 7 walks and Napoli's HR did. No one believes injured Josh Hamilton is currently the same #3 hitter that got the Rangers to the playoffs, but Hamilton's defacto game winning 1st inning double may dupe Ron Washington into believing that heart CAN overcome hernia...and the
law of averages begs to differ... No argument there are Ranger hitters in better condition to hit in Hamilton's spot, but Wash appears to be in denial. I doubt LaRussa will allow Hamilton another changeup, and I'll be suprized if Napoli and Cruz see many more fastballs. 

Why trading losses isn't good enough:
If you lose the first game of the series, you have to win 2 in a row sometime, or lose the series. If the Rangers DON'T win game 5 at home, winning 2 in St. Louis is long odds. For St. Louis, losing game 5 means you lost with your best starting pitcher, have to come back in game 6 with your worst starter, and you either repeat game 4 matchups in a game 7, or have to bring game 5 loser back on short rest.    

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