ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 23: Edwin Jackson #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals is removed from the game by manager Tony La Russa in the sixth inning during Game Four of the MLB World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 23, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Edwin Jackson is a frustrating pitcher to watch during his time as a Cardinal. After joining St. Louis via the trade Jackson employed the smoke-and-mirror routine of Kyle McClellan he was meant to replace. Striking out only 5.88 batters per nine innings while walking 2.66 his FIP rose from 3.25 as a White Sock to 4.01 as a Redbird. An un-Duncanian 39.1% groundball rate combined with a worrisome 27% line drive rate feed a 5.20 tERA that has made each start by Jackson feel like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off.
Watching last night felt an awful lot like being a hostage strapped to the time bomb, watching the seconds tick down. Jackson labored through his start, populated the Arlington bases with seven runners via the walk. In his 5.1 IP allowed ten total base runners. That he made it through five innings with a mere 1-0 deficit felt like a minor miracle. Rather than count their gods of baseball blessings at the turn-of-events, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan pushed their luck by sending Jackson out for the sixth inning. One walk did not earn Jackson the hook he had flirted with all evening; it took a second.
The manager then tasked reliever Mitchell Boggs with unenviable job of facing Mike Napoli with two ducks on the pond. Napoli greeted the hard-throwing Georgian rudely, depositing his first-pitch fastball into the left field seats, a blast that extended the Texas lead to 4-0. It would be all the runs that the Rangers would need.
Holland dealt a concoction of fastballs and offspeed pitches on both corners of the plate to keep the Cardinals batters--save Lance Berkman--off balance all night. The game after his comrades in arms were beat about the ballpark by the Cardinals lineup, Holland gave his team 8.1 shutout innings with 7 strikeouts, 2 walks, and just 2 hits allowed, an effort that helped to tie the World Series at two games apiece.
It is an ideal scenario for the second duel between the clubs' respective aces. Chris Carpenter vs. C.J. Wilson II will take place this evening in Arlington. Both pitchers threw well in the gusty and cold conditions of Game 1 at the pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium. The weather will be warmer and the setting more hitter-friendly. A best-of-seven series has been pared down to a best-of-three. The World Series will return to St. Louis on Wednesday. Whether the Cardinals have a chance to win the franchise's eleventh championship that night rests largely on the right arm of Chris Carpenter. As a Cardinals fan, I wouldn't have it any other way.