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MLB Playoffs - World Series Q&A With Rangers Writer Jamey Newberg

Aaron Fischman |
October 18, 2011 | 1:53 p.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Hot-hitting Nelson Cruz (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)
Hot-hitting Nelson Cruz (Keith Allison/Wikimedia Commons)

The 2011 World Series, which begins Wednesday night, will feature what figures to be a thrilling match-up between the offensively-gifted Texas Rangers and the red-hot St. Louis Cardinals.

The Rangers return to baseball’s greatest stage for the second consecutive year, after they lost to the San Francisco Giants in last year’s Fall Classic.

St. Louis, who is this season’s National League wild card representative, makes its first World Series appearance since 2006. For the Cardinals, three players from that 2006 championship team will take the field in the 2011 World Series--Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina and Chris Carpenter. 

Now that the stage has been set, let’s delve into the specifics of the series with Jamey Newberg. He is the creator of the very popular Rangers site The Newberg Report

You may remember Newberg from his last appearance on Neon Tommy, as he helped preview the ALCS earlier this month

 1. In our ALCS Q&A, you mentioned the Rangers’ focus on taking the final step after losing in last year’s World Series. In short, how do the Rangers take that final step and win it all this time around?

Well, they need to get more effective starts from their rotation. The bullpen has rescued this team all month, but continuing to ride the key relievers this hard has the chance to catch up with them, and a couple seven-inning starts would really help. Keeping everyone healthy (the dinged-up Hamilton and Beltre in particular) will be key, and aside from that, playing their game and not letting the stage distract them is something the team knows it needs to do.

2. Nelson Cruz hit a home run in five of the six ALCS games and drove in 13 runs for the series. How was he able to accomplish such an incredible feat?

Cruz has stretches like this every year. When he gets his rhythm down at the plate and lays off breaking stuff out of the zone, he’s tough to pitch to. When he’s out of sync, which also happens for stretches each season, you can get him out with 92 mph at the belt. But he’s locked in right now.

3. With such a deep line-up, some hitters can afford to have quieter series like Beltre did in the ALCS. In your estimation, how many Texas hitters must have a good series in order for the Rangers to earn the ring?

I don’t really look at things that way. You just hope that there aren’t a couple cold bats next to each other in the lineup, allowing STL to routinely pitch around hitters. In truth, Texas didn’t have more than a couple hot bats in either the ALDS or ALDS, but the bullpen kept the team in games most nights and the offense did enough to win.  

C.J. Wilson will look to regain his form in Game 1 for the Rangers
C.J. Wilson will look to regain his form in Game 1 for the Rangers

4. The team’s ace, C.J. Wilson, has struggled mightily in three starts this postseason, giving up six home runs and 14 earned runs in less than 16 innings, for an ERA of 8.04. Realistically, can Wilson turn it around, and if he doesn’t, do the Rangers stand much of a chance against the Cardinals?

He’s certainly capable of turning things around, and Texas needs him to, particularly in Game 1 to set a tone on the road. But the club has proved this month that it’s able to beat very good teams even if Wilson isn’t right. 

5. In general, the Rangers’ starting pitchers are not throwing well, but the same can be said for the Cardinals' staff. Are you expecting a high-scoring series?

Maybe less so than everyone thinks, because both rotations are capable of better and the cold weather in Games 1 and 2 could suppress offense a little bit. But at the same time, both offenses are clicking right now. 

6. With the exception of Koji Uehara, who has only thrown 1.1 postseason innings, the Texas bullpen has been unstoppable. If you had to name an ALCS MVP or most valuable group of players, would it be Nelson Cruz or the Ranger bullpen?

Gotta be Cruz, just by virtue of how that hardware gets awarded, but the relievers have certainly been the unsung heroes of the post-season for this club. 

7. With Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and David Freese forming the heart of the St. Louis line-up, where do the Cards stack up against the Rangers offensively?

Well, the Giants’ lineup paled dramatically in comparison with the Texas lineup last October, at least on paper, and we know how that turned out.  Give the Rangers’ offense the edge, but that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t out-execute them.  

Albert Pujols drove in 9 runs in the NLCS (Dave Herholz/Wikimedia Commons)
Albert Pujols drove in 9 runs in the NLCS (Dave Herholz/Wikimedia Commons)

8. Freese, the Cardinals’ most unexpected contributor and the always reliable Pujols have combined to power the Cards through to the World Series. If Tony La Russa continues to bat Freese in the sixth spot, do you expect Ron Washington to start pitching around the third baseman more often?

No. Pujols will get the Longoria/Cabrera treatment, but otherwise I’d expect Texas to have a tactical gameplan against Freese and everyone else in the order, based on their advance scouting.  

9. Since 2003, when the winner of the All-Star Game was granted World Series home-field advantage, the losing league (in the ASG) has managed to win the World Series nearly half the time (three of eight times). In that same stretch, the team that won Game 1 has ultimately won the championship every time except once (in 2009). For the Rangers, how important will it be to steal Game 1 in St. Louis’ Busch Stadium?

It’s marginally important, but Texas lost Game 1 of the ALDS against Tampa Bay – in fact, getting drilled and doing so at home – yet the Rangers proceeded to roll off three straight to win that series. Losing Game One on the road isn’t fatal.

10. Last series, you correctly predicted the Rangers to win in six games, so let me ask you this: Who will win the World Series?

Texas in six.


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