Get more production from the heart of the lineup
The players who occupy the No. 2 through No. 4 spots in the Rangers lineup — Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Michael Young — went a combined zero-for-11 in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. Despite the strong outing by its starting pitcher and a two-run home run from catcher Mike Napoli, Texas couldn’t overcome the poor showing from the heart of its order. The Rangers need Andrus, Hamilton and Young, who are hitting a collective .216 and have just one postseason home run between them, to step up throughout the rest of the Fall Classic.
Trust the starting pitcher
Somehow, Texas got to the World Series without its ace C.J. Wilson picking up a win in three postseason starts. He didn’t get a win his fourth but was cruising through his finest playoff performance before Rangers manager Ron Washington prematurely pulled him in the sixth inning of a 2-2 game. Wilson had just given up a one-out double to Nation League Championship Series MVP David Freese before giving way to All-Star starter-turned-reliever Alexi Ogando, who promptly allowed the go-ahead run to cross the plate. If Washington wants his team to even the series tonight, he needs to trust his starting pitcher more. Colby Lewis, whose regular season home ERA was more than two runs lower than his road ERA, takes the mound at Busch Stadium in Game 2. Lewis has been solid in two road starts so far, going 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA. Washington didn’t use setup man Mike Adams or closer Neftali Feliz, but he needs to let Lewis go at least six innings tonight.
Don’t pinch-hit for the sake of pinch-hitting
Playing in a National League ballpark means the pitchers hit for themselves. It doesn’t call for excessive pinch-hitting. Washington was badly out-managed by St. Louis skipper Tony LaRussa, who’s managing his seventh World Series. Even though David Murphy had six hits in previous 10 at-bats entering Game 1, Washington opted to pinch-hit for him. With runners on first and second, Murphy’s substitute, Craig Gentry, was called out on strikes. The next batter, Esteban German, who had not registered an at-bat since Sept. 25, struck out as well to end the inning. Octavio Dotel and Jason Motte combined to retire the next six Rangers hitters. Meanwhile, LaRussa’s pinch-hitter, Allen Craig, knocked in what proved to be the game-winning run. Washington must maneuver his hitters around much better during the rest of the series for Texas to have a chance at winning it.