Pitching took back control of the 2011 World Series, at least for a night, as Rangers starter Derek Holland shut down the St. Louis Cardinals to even the series at 2-2. Mike Napoli provided all the offense the Rangers would need on one swing, as Texas defeated the Cardinals 4-1.
A night removed from game three’s 23 run, 28 hit offensive barrage, the Cardinals and Rangers only combined to score five runs on eight hits. If that statement alone doesn’t indicate the vast differences between the two contests, here’s another one. Texas and St. Louis posted more hits and runs in the 4th inning of Saturday night’s game than they totaled in game four.
Despite surrendering only three hits over his 5 1/3 innings pitched, Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson walked seven Rangers. Two of those free passes came in the 6th before he was lifted. Mitchell Boggs came on to replace Jackson, and Napoli proceeded to take the first pitch he saw from the reliever deep to left. This four run cushion proved more than sufficient for Rangers starter Derek Holland.
Entering the World Series, Holland had been the Rangers number two starting pitcher, behind C.J. Wilson. After struggling over his first three playoff starts (8 ER, 12 1/3 IP), the Rangers decided to bump Holland to fourth in their World Series rotation.
Sunday night, the 25-year-old provided the Rangers with their best start of the postseason, logging 8 1/3 scoreless frames. Holland held the Cardinals to only two hits while walking a pair and striking out seven. Rangers’ manager Ron Washington allowed Holland to come out and try for the complete game shutout, but went to his pen after his left-hander walked the second batter of the inning. Holland left to a standing ovation.
Neftali Feliz came on to offer his own free pass before retiring the final two batters of the inning. With the win, Texas tied the series at two and made certain that it will end in St. Louis. The now best-of-three series continues tonight in Texas, with a pitching rematch of the opener.