2011 World Series Game 4 - Texas Rangers v St Louis Cardinals

We have a classic on our hands

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When do you know that a classic World Series is afoot? We certainly know it when it’s over. But at what point as it’s happening can one safely say that, yes, we’re seeing something special? The kind of series that only comes along once or twice a decade? Something memorable?

I’m prepared to say that we have one now.  With the Rangers’ 4-0 win over the Cardinals we now have played four games, and nothing has been decided.  We’ve had a solid outing from Chris Carpenter in Game 1 paired with a clutch pinch hit. We had a a ninth inning comeback in Game 2. We had one of the best — possibly the best — single offensive performance by a player in a World Series game from Albert Pujols in Game 3. And now, in Game 4, a gem from Derek Holland.

Are you not entertained? What else could you ask for? And we have at least two more games to play.

Holland was masterful tonight, mixing the best velocity he’s shown in three postseason starts with a curve ball that obeyed his every command. Twenty-four hours after the Cardinals bats made mincemeat of everything tossed their way, they had no answers for Holland. He gave up two hits, both to Lance Berkman. There was never a threat until the ninth, and that was aided by Neftali Feliz who came in and walked the first batter he faced after Holland ran out of gas.  Just ask Tony La Russa and Ron Washington how dominant Holland was. First La Russa:

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And then Washington:

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But this World Series is about more than Derek Holland. Or Albert Pujols. Or Jason Motte. Or Chris Carpenter. It’s building in much the same way an individual game builds. Each night, we’ve seen something wonderful yet something totally different than we saw the game before.  At this rate Game 5 is going to turn on a triple play. Or a steal of home. Or the hidden ball trick.

Or maybe something else entirely. All I know is that neither the Rangers nor the Cardinals seem to have mailing-one-in on their agenda. And each time we think we know what may happen — the bullpens dominating, continued pitchers duels, or offensive outbursts — someone comes along the very next game and flips the script.

Predicting what happens next is a sucker’s game at this point. It’s been some time since we’ve had four straight World Series games this much fun for so many different reasons. We’ve all bought the ticket. Time to just sit back and take the ride.

Cardinals will bring back Mike Matheny for the 2017 season

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 16:  Manager Mike Matheny #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals looks on while the umpires review a call against the San Francisco Giants in the top of the third inning at AT&T Park on September 16, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”

GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”

Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”

Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.

Pete Mackanin on Phillies’ bullpen: “Somebody else has to [bleeping] step up.”

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 15: Manager Pete Mackanin #45 of the Philadelphia Phillies makes a pitching change in the eighth inning during a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Citizens Bank Park on June 15, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Blue Jays won 7-2. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
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The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.

The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.

Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:

Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.

The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97.  Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.

In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.