UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after watching the Boring Bowl emanating from Cleveland. They should have given the Cleveland Browns The Ugly Cup. The Browns and Seattle Seahawks were more like World Cup soccer teams and the Browns won, two goals (field goals) to one in their 6-3 victory during which both teams acted as if the end zone was a gigantic water-filled moat.
GAME 4 OF THE World Series Sunday night was a gaudy example of why baseball is so difficult to explain to those who have no working knowledge of the game.
On Saturday night, the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers, 16-7, with 15 hits, denting home plate so often they probably had to replace it.
On Sunday night, the same teams played again and the Cardinals couldn’t find home plate with a GPS, a detailed map and two National Park rangers. Texas won, 4-0. The difference?
A YOUNG-FACED left-hander named Derek Holland turned off the St. Louis bats like a plumber with a new wrench turning off a leaky spigot.
Holland, making $432,000, barely above the major-league minimum, held the Cardinals to no runs and two hits, walking two and striking out seven in 8 1/3 innings. That’s two hits in The Ballpark at Arlington, where runs usually flood across home plate like water flowing from the Red River.
On Saturday night, Albert Pujols alone had five hits for the Cardinals, three of the home runs. On Sunday, he had no hits, not even a loud foul ball, and in the eighth inning Holland struck him out with a 95 miles an hour fastball.
In addition to making the Cardinals look as if they were swinging wet rolled-up Wall Street Journals for bats, Holland gave the battered and ragged Texas bullpen a rest, especially a tattered Alexi Ogando.
Holland was still throwing 96 when he pitched the ninth, trying to complete his fifth complete-game shutout this season.
He didn’t quite make it. He issued a one-out walk in the ninth to Rafael Furcal on his 116th pitch and when Texas manager Ron Washington popped out of the dugout to go get him the crowd acted as if they’d just seen Billy the Kid wearing a mask and carrying a six-shooter.
Holland was cheered mightily when he walked to the dugout as closer Neftali Feliz trotted to the mound. Feliz jangled some nerves when he fell behind Allen Craig 3-and-0, then walked him on a full count.
That brought up Pujols with two on and one out and he flied to center on a 0-and-2 count for the second out.
Matt Holliday was next and once again Feliz fell behind 3-and-0. He threw a strike, then Holliday swung and missed strike two as the tension hit a zenith. Holliday fouled off a 99 miles an hour fast ball on 3-and-2 and fouled off another on a 98 miles an hour pitch.
Then Feliz blew strike three past Holliday.
SO THE SERIES is tied at two games apiece with Game 5 tonight in Texas before the event returns to St. Louis for Game 6 on Wednesday.
St. Louis starter Edwin Jackson wasn’t too shabby himself, except for an aversion to throwing a lot of strikes.
The Rangers scored a run in the first inning on a single by Elvis Andrus and a double to the right field corner by Josh Hamilton, on which Adrus scored from first.
And it stayed 1-0 and stayed 1-0 and stayed 1-0, despite Jackson’s propensity for issuing walks.
Then in the sixth inning he walked two more, Nelson Cruz and David Murphy. The walk to Murphy was Jackson’s seventh, the most ever issued by a St. Louis pitcher in a World Series game.
As one would expect at this juncture, St. Louis manager Tony LaRussa, a man of consistency and conviction, did what he always does at this point.
He took out Jackson and brought in Mitchell Boggs to face Mike Napoli. Before anybody could say, “That’s amore,” Napoli drilled a three-run home run and the score jumped from 1-0 to 4-0.
ON SATURDAY that lead would have been nothing, but with Holland acting like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dike the Cardinals were helpless.
Texas fans held their breaths as Holland took the mound because he had given up five home runs in the postseason in 12 innings. But this Holland was the regular-season Holland, the one who was 9-2 in The Ballpark at Arlington this year and pitched four complete-game shutouts.
Holland, called ‘The Dutch Oven’ by his teammates, may be the best pitcher most people don’t know.
He is from Newark, Ohio and attended Wallace Community College in Alabama. He was a 25th round draft pick by the Rangers, but in 2011 he was 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA.
And he probably saved the Rangers’ season on Sunday. A loss and a three games to one deficit probably would have been deadly for the Rangers.Tweet