Rangers minus 160 vs. Cards to win World Series

The Texas Rangers came up short in last year’s World Series when San Francisco’s pitching staff shut down Texas’ powerful offense. Most sports books monitored by the SportsOptions odds product don’t see that happening this time around, as the Rangers have been installed as $1.60 favorites against the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 World Series.

However, the Cardinals and ace pitcher Chris Carpenter are $1.20 home favorites in Wednesday’s Game 1 against Texas southpaw C.J. Wilson. The total opened at 7 ½, which is interesting considering both the Rangers and Cardinals averaged over 6 ½ runs per game during their recently completed League Championship Series against the Tigers and Brewers respectively.

Because the National League captured this year’s All-Star game, the Cards will enjoy the advantage of having four contests at home if the series goes the maximum seven games.

Therefore, the Rangers will be without the designated hitter on four occasions if the series goes the limit. That might hinder other American League teams, but it shouldn’t bother a Texas lineup that is so deep it has ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz hitting seventh.

Cruz, who is listed as “probable” for Game 1 with a strained oblique muscle, belted six home runs in the six-game series against the Tigers, with the Rangers scoring 36 runs in the process.

After an athletic 1-2 punch at the top in Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, the Rangers now have sluggers in the third, fifth and seventh slots in Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Cruz, respectively, and the club’s top two on-base performers, Young at fourth and Napoli at sixth.

Texas ranks first in the league with a .283 batting average, second with 210 home runs and third with 5.28 runs per game average. But this is not a typical slow-moving American League squad. The Rangers have swiped 143 bases, which ranks fifth.

Pitching and defense, however, may be a sore spot during a seven-game series. The Rangers were 13th with a 3.79 ERA and 28th defensively thanks to their 115 errors. Ironically, Texas’ starting pitchers have 99 quality starts, which is the league’s fourth-best mark.

Texas advanced to this point by dismissing the Tampa Bay Rays in four games in the ALDS, and eliminating the Detroit Tigers in six games during the ALCS. The Rangers scored five runs or more five times during that 10-game span, but also allowed five runs or more on five occasions.

St. Louis had to go the five-game distance to eliminate the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS, then needed six games to send the Milwaukee Brewers home in the NLCS.

The Cards were no offensive slouches during the postseason themselves, registering five runs or more seven times during those 11 playoff matches. That includes scoring 12 runs twice against the Brewers.

Tony LaRussa’s troops might be more like an American League team than the Rangers. The Cards have managed just 57 stolen bases, which ranks 29th in the league. Only the Tigers swiped fewer bases.

However, the Cards rank fifth in runs per game (4.70), fifth in batting average (.273) and 13th in home runs (162).

Pitching and defense will also be a concern. The Cards own a 3.79 ERA (12th), while the starters managed just 86 quality-starts (16th). The club ranks next-to-last with 117 errors.

St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols suffered a wrist injury in Sunday’s Game 6 against the Brewers, but he is listed as “probable” for Wednesday’s Game 1.

Prediction: Texas in six

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