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After one for the ages, Rangers-Cards comes down to a Game 7

Chris Ruddick,
MLB Editor


Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After a 162-game regular season and two rounds of playoffs it all comes down to this. One game. Do or die for the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals this evening at Busch Stadium.

It doesn't get much better than a decisive game in any sport, but this is baseball's first on its biggest stage since 2002 when the Anaheim Angels outlasted the San Francisco Giants.

Television ratings may suggest otherwise, but this has been one of the best World Series in recent memory and Thursday's Game 6 will be the one you tell your grandkids about one day.

In watching that game last night you almost got the feeling that you were a part of some sort of an elaborate promotion celebrating the 25th anniversary of the classic Mets-Red Sox series because there hasn't been a game more memorable than last night's Game 6 since the Bill Buckner fiasco back in 1986.

For those of you who may have tuned out after the Rangers went up by three in the seventh, you missed a heck of an ending. An all-timer if you will.

Not only did the Cards rally from that deficit to force extras in the ninth, but rallied again from two runs down in the 10th after Josh Hamilton belted his first home run of the postseason, a two-run shot in the top half to give the Rangers a seemingly comfortable cushion.

It was David Freese's triple in the ninth that evened the game for the Cardinals, but then he made certain that he would never have to pay for another meal ever in St. Louis when his home run to center field ensured a Game 7 and lifted the Cardinals to a 10-9 win.

Amazing.

Now we turn the page to tonight and you have to wonder just how much is going to be left in the tank for both the Cardinals and Rangers? And just how exactly is Texas manager Ron Washington going to have his team ready to go after twice being within one strike of winning their first ever World Series title only to come up empty both times?

Carlos Beltran
Elimination is something this Cardinals team seems to thrive on.
Elimination is something this Cardinals team seems to thrive on. They've been in this position basically since the middle of August and had to overcome a 10-1/2-game deficit to just make the playoffs. Then, not only did they beat the 102-win Philadelphia Phillies, they beat Roy Halladay in a decisive fifth game in Philadelphia.

Nothing rattles this St. Louis club. They never give up and now find themselves on the cusp of their 11th World Series title. Another win tonight would also make them the fifth wild card team to win the World Series and the first since the 2004 Boston Red Sox.

Recent history is also on the Cardinals' side as the home team has been victorious in each of the last eight World Series Game 7's. In fact there hasn't been a road team to prevail in this situation since the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates upended Baltimore.

Furthermore, 12 of the last 13 teams to win a Game 6 at home, forcing a Game 7, in either the LCS or World Series rounds went on to win Game 7. The only exception was the 2006 Mets, who lost Game 7 to the Cards.

The pressure won't be on this Cardinals team, which is expected to have their ace Chris Carpenter on the hill.

Carpenter, of course, beat Halladay in that NLDS clincher, but was on full rest. He will be going on three days rest tonight, as he did when he was roughed by the Phillies in Game 2 of that set.

Still, the weight of the world tonight will be on the shoulders of the Rangers, who couldn't put this scrappy Cardinals club away on Thursday.

Logic would suggest that all the momentum is in St. Louis' favor tonight, but I thought that about the Rangers after Game 2, the Cards after Game 3 and certainly the Rangers after Game 5.

Momentum has meant nothing this series. It would not shock me in the least if Matt Harrison went out and threw a gem for the Rangers tonight. Actually that would shock me. Harrison's Game 3 effort left little to be desired. He gave up six runs and couldn't get out of the fourth inning.

How he's the choice for this game is beyond me. Derek Holland should have been the guy. The potential for a big start is there with him. I'm not so sure it is with Harrison. Either way he'll have a short leash and C.J. Wilson will be there to pick up the pieces.

By the way, it has to pain Tony La Russa to watch Washington manage. Before the game Washington said he wasn't as dumb as he looks. A few of his moves on Thursday had me questioning that.

Why in the world would he let Colby Lewis hit with the bases loaded of a one- run game in the fifth, knowing you had Derek Holland in your back pocket? All season long he took Cruz out late in games for defensive reasons. Why exactly was he out there in the ninth inning? And Darren Oliver? Really?

La Russa may kill you with his micromanaging, but I'd much rather have a guy who has a bit of a basis behind his moves rather than the guy who just seems to go with his gut. Then again, they are both in the same position heading tonight, so what do I know?

Everything in my gut is telling me that after what happened on Thursday night there is no way that the Cardinals can lose. But again, momentum has meant nothing to this point.

Before the series started I said the Rangers were better in every aspect. They have a better lineup, better pitching staff, better bullpen. You name it, the Rangers were better. Yet I picked the Cardinals because, well, they just had something going for them.

After Thursday does anyone disagree?

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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