Sunday, October 30, 2011

World Series Recap: I Blame C.J. Wilson

The Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the World Series in the ninth inning of Game 6.  They blew that lead.  They were one strike away from winning the World Series in the tenth inning as well.  That lead also went poof.  In Game 7, they were 25 outs away from winning the World Series before blowing that lead.

You can say the Rangers lost because David Freese happened.  You can say they lost because the Cardinals had just watched the 1986 World Series DVD as an educational video.  You can say many things about why the Rangers lost.  I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.

 You can't hide from us, C.J.  We know it was your fault the Rangers lost the World Series.

Nelson Cruz had hit his record-tying eighth home run in the 2011 postseason, a shot off designated intentional walker Lance Lynn.  That blast gave the Rangers a 6-4 lead in the seventh inning of Game 6.  Cruz later misplayed David Freese's line drive to turn a World Series-clinching out into a World Series-tying two-run triple.  Blame Nelson Cruz all you want.  I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.

The Texas Rangers pitching staff allowed 41 walks over the seven games, breaking the old World Series record of 40 set by the 1997 Florida Marlins.  Alexi Ogando, who was a strong Rookie of the Year candidate until the Mets beat him up in late June, allowed seven of those 41 walks in only 2 2/3 innings.  Despite his erratic arm, Rangers manager Ron Washington brought him into six of the seven games, where he also gave up seven hits in addition to his seven walks.  It would appear as if Alexi Ogando or Ron Washington would be culpable for this.  I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.

The bullpen of Mike Adams, Neftali Feliz, Mike Gonzalez, Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Darren Oliver and Mark Lowe combined to pitch 19 2/3 innings in the World Series.  After an impressive regular season, ALDS and ALCS, the relievers faltered in the World Series, combining to post an 8.24 ERA and 2.34 WHIP.   The lowest ERA of the Sad Seven belonged to Adams, who led the bullpen with a 4.50 ERA in two appearances.  Blame the bullpen coach or any member of the Sad Seven.  I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.

Ron Washington should have continued to pitch batting practice instead of letting his relievers do so during the actual games.

In Game 3, Albert Pujols went 5-for-6 with three home runs and six runs batted in.  In the other six games, he went 1-for-19 with no RBIs.  However, that one hit came in one of his many "this could be his last at-bat for the Cardinals" plate appearances in Game 6.  Pujols' one-out double into the gap in left-center set the stage for Freese's ninth-inning heroics.  Because of Pujols' reputation as the best hitter in the league and that ninth inning double, the Rangers decided to issue one of the aforementioned 41 walks to Pujols in the tenth inning when they were one out away from becoming World Series champions.  Oops.  Lance Berkman followed El Hombre's intentional walk with an RBI single, sending the game into the 11th inning.  Blame pitching coach Mike Maddux or Albert Pujols' aura.  I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.

C.J. Wilson started two games of the World Series.  After an excellent regular season in which he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, Wilson actually had a lower ERA in the World Series.  His 2.92 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance helped keep the Rangers in the series.  It was Wilson's effort in Game 5 (one run allowed in 5 1/3 innings) that set the stage for Mike Napoli's go-ahead two-run double in the eighth inning, a hit that propelled the Rangers to a 3-2 series lead.

It looks as if C.J. Wilson did everything he could to help the Rangers win the World Series.  So why am I blaming him for the World Series loss?  Because the seeds for this loss were planted in Arizona in mid-July.

 The Fall Classic was lost during the Midsummer Classic, thanks to C.J. Wilson.

During the Midsummer Classic, the American League led 1-0 when manager Ron Washington (maybe I should blame him too) brought in C.J. Wilson to pitch the fourth inning.  Wilson allowed a leadoff single to then-Met Carlos Beltran, followed by a line drive single to Matt Kemp.  He then allowed a titanic three-run homer to Prince Fielder (see photo above), which gave the National League a 3-1 lead.  The American League would not score again in the NL's 5-1 All-Star Game victory.

Prince Fielder's bomb off C.J. Wilson essentially gave the National League home-field advantage in the World Series.  Hence, that is why the wild card-winning Cardinals were able to play Games 6 and 7 at Busch Stadium instead of having those games played in Arlington, home of the division-winning Rangers.  Had Game 6 been played in Texas, the Cardinals would not have gotten a last chance to tie the game in the ninth and tenth innings and could not have possibly won the game in walk-off fashion.  It might have been the Rangers celebrating a World Series championship instead of the Cardinals celebrating an improbable comeback victory in Game 6.

So blame Ron Washington, Mike Maddux, Nelson Cruz or the entire Texas Rangers bullpen.  They might share in the blame for the Rangers' seven-game World Series loss to the Cardinals, but I'm blaming C.J. Wilson.  Had he been able to keep one ball in the park in July, the Rangers might have been having a ball in their park in October as first-time World Series champions.

Don't drop the ball, C.J.  Oh, wait.  Never mind.  You already did in the All-Star Game.

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