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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Cardinals defeat Rangers in Game 1

ST. LOUIS — On one of the chilliest Game 1 nights in World Series history, the Cardinals relied on Tony La Russa’s cool hand, and the winning run in their 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers was scored by who else but David Freese.

La Russa, who made a record 28 pitching changes in the NLCS, once again made all the right calls with his bullpen. And it was pinch hitter Allen Craig’s single with two outs in the sixth inning that scored Freese, who had doubled.

Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes — each making his World Series debut — retired the top of the Texas order in a scoreless eighth. Jason Motte threw a 1-2-3 ninth for his fifth save this postseason on Wednesday night.

Maybe Ron Washington was right when he said he didn’t think he could “ever live up to matching a wit” with La Russa, who has yet to make a major miscalculation this October.

Albert Pujols got the crowd of 46,406 fired up when his diving stop of Michael Young’s grounder saved a run and ended the sixth. The Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the bottom half, thanks to another timely move by La Russa.

Freese’s one-out double got it started, and after he advanced to third on a wild pitch, starter C.J. Wilson walked No. 8 hitter Nick Punto. That’s when La Russa sent up Craig for Chris Carpenter and Washington countered by pulling starter C.J. Wilson for Alexi Ogando.

La Russa’s hot streak continued as Craig slapped a sinking liner to rightfield that Nelson Cruz nearly grabbed with a sliding catch. As Cruz went into a split, the ball went under his glove. Fortunately for Cruz, he still made a kick save with his left foot to hold Craig to an RBI single.

The chess game continued in the seventh, when the Rangers had two on with one out. La Russa replaced reliever Fernando Salas with lefthander Marc Rzepczynski, who fanned pinch hitter Craig Gentry. Washington followed by sending up Esteban German for his first at-bat since Sept. 24. Maybe German was rusty — he struck out on three pitches.

With a first-pitch temperature of 49 degrees, Wednesday night matched the third-coldest Game 1 since MLB began keeping track of such things in 1975, tying 2004 at Fenway Park and 1999 at Yankee Stadium. Topping that list, at a bone-chilling 41, was Game 1 at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium in 1979.

That didn’t stop a handful of the warm-weather Rangers from wearing short sleeves, including Wilson, who talked about the benefits of cryotherapy on the eve of Game 1.

“Basically you stand in this freezing can and cold air circulates around you,” Wilson said. “I did it a couple days ago. It went down to minus-295 or something. So 35 degrees should be no big deal, right? Although I didn’t have to pitch when I got out of there, so it should be different.”

The frosty air seemed to have no ill effect on Wilson during the early innings, as he didn’t allow a hit until Punto’s leadoff single in the third. That had to be considered progress, because Wilson was 0-1 with a 5.94 ERA in his three previous starts to open a playoff series.

in the fourth on a rally that began when Wilson nailed Pujols on the left foot. The crowd groaned in disapproval, even though the pitch nearly bounced, and Wilson felt worse when Matt Holliday doubled inside the rightfield line.

Next up was Lance Berkman, one of only three Cardinals Wilson had faced before, and he chopped a weak grounder that shot past first baseman Young and landed fair by roughly two feet. It was a soft single, but enough to score two runs.

But after the Cardinals stranded two that inning, the Rangers tied it at 2 in the fifth. Carpenter had retired seven straight before Adrian Beltre led off with his second hit, a single to right.

He whiffed the dangerous Cruz but left an 0-and-1 sinker up to Mike Napoli, who drove it deep into the rightfield seats. Napoli improved to 4-for-5 with two home runs and five RBIs against Carpenter, who didn’t heed his own advice.

“If you keep the ball down, and keep them off balance, you’re going to get outs,” Carpenter had said, “and if you don’t, you’re going to get beat.”

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