What we should keep in mind is that those 16 runs were Rangers Ballpark madness and a once-in-World-Series-history game from Pujols who gave us a glimpse of what Babe Ruth must have looked like in October of 1926 and ’28. But that game was not the Texas norm. Except for that one Pujols-led mauling, the Cards have scored only four runs in three World Series games.
In reality, adjusted for their nutty amusement park of a ballyard, which ranked No. 1 in baseball for offense, the Rangers actually have the third-best ERA in baseball. See, just wanted to make sure you were paying attention. The appropriate statistic is ERA+ — that’s ERA adjusted for home ballpark compared to the league norm. The Rangers stand at 118, or 18 percent better than the adjusted norm for the AL. The Phillies, naturally, are No. 1.
This isn’t a trick stat. The Rangers are a truly outstanding, all-around balanced club. But all their numbers are distorted. So we don’t expect much from Texas pitchers. But we should.
The next huge test will be for the Rangers ace Wilson, the quick-witted but eccentric southpaw who has a 1-5 record with a 5.32 ERA in eight postseason starts. In Game 5, he’ll face the best and most-poised Card, Chris Carpenter, who beat the Phils’ Roy Halladay, 1-0, to decide their National League Division Series.
The postseason “hasn’t gone as well as I would have liked. I would have liked to have won every game and thrown a shutout every time because it would have made it easier on everyone else,” Wilson said. Asked if Monday would be the biggest game of his life, Wilson said, “True story.”
Then, as befits a fellow who sometimes has theories on subjects that may not be worthy of theories, he added that Game 5 is so important because “there’s no Galaxy Series or Universe Series or whatever.”
So, in the kind of ace-vs.-ace Game 5 that proves pivotal in many World Series, hold your breath. Carpenter’s response to all pitching questions here has been the same: “You execute, you’ll get outs. You don’t, you won’t.”
No discussions of a possible Galaxy Series on Jupiter in November.
The easy assumption might be that Carpenter, a 36-year-old former Cy Young Award-winner, might have an edge over the cheerfully flaky Wilson. But that would entirely discount what was on view here Sunday.
“What you saw from Holland, we all know it’s in him,” Washington said. Strictly on premium quality talent, that applies to about nine Rangers.
If Wilson, Harrison and Ogando take their cue for the rest of this series from Holland’s powerful work — he even sat down between innings — this matchup will be a contest worthy of any World Series stage.
Which young Rangers hurlers will appear? Will they be the ones who, so far, have not always been quite ready for the World Series lights? Or will they, like Holland, grow up suddenly before our eyes?