I've picked the Rangers from the get-go, and I'm officially going to be sticking with that pick. Nolan Ryan thinks they'll get it done in six, which is definitely believable. I think it will be a seven game series, though.
If had told me in July that this is the World Series we'd see, I would have called you crazy. St. Louis didn't have a bullpen, Pujols started off slow, then got injured just as he was getting back on track, and there was no way Lance Berkman was going to keep it up. Plus, how were the Braves not going to hold on to their lead? Now, Pujols is red hot, Berkman is still doing okay, and the Braves, well, sorry Atlanta. That's tough. As a Cub fan, it makes you a little sick that not once could the Northsiders catch lightning in a bottle to make it this far in sixty-six years. And yet, just five years after winning the whole thing and seven years since getting swept by Boston, here is this Cardinal team that was supposed to be done in when Adam Wainwright's elbow said "Peace Out" in spring training.
As for tomorrow's game, I am going to say the Cardinals win. They're in Busch Stadium, and if you haven't noticed, Chris Carpenter is a beast. Even on an off day, he's giving his team and chance to win. And the Cardinals have been doing this more or less without Berkman and Holliday. Of course, when Pujols is right,* he counts for about three bats with the production he puts up. The much-maligned** David Freese, though, has been a godsend for the Redbirds, and Allen Craig has been pretty darned good himself. The bullpen was able to hold down a Milwaukee line up that scares me more than the Rangers (though the Rangers are still plenty scary). The Cardinals might pull this thing off, no doubt.
*And he is definitely right at the moment.
**Not necessarily because he doesn't have talent (though his glove is, um, suspect), but because he can never stay healthy.
The Rangers starting pitching has not been great. The Cardinals didn't get a quality start in the NLCS, but I think that has a lot more to do with La Russa and his "four pitchers to get through an inning" strategy than how their pitchers are doing. Still, as good as the Cardinals have been, I do think Texas has the better line up, and must improved pitching over Milwaukee. Surely CJ Wilson can't be this disappointing the entire postseason, can he?
I'm going to keep picking game by game, which might influence my decision after seeing this teams against each other. But, for now, I'm going to say the Rangers in seven in a great, great series.