Game 7: Carpenter starts, can Rangers recover?

October 28, 2011 - 7:35 PM
World Series Trophy Rangers Cardinals Baseball

The World Series trophy is seen before Game 6 of baseball's World Series, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, in St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals face the Texas Rangers in Game 7 on Friday, Oct. 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Game 7 of the World Series. The most exciting night in baseball.

Except for last night, that is. What could possibly top that?

Following one of the most thrilling finishes in postseason history, the Rangers and Cardinals are back at it tonight, less than 20 hours after David Freese's 11th-inning homer for St. Louis pushed the Series to the limit.

Truly, a Fall Classic — winner takes all. First pitch is set for 8:05 p.m. EDT at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals seem to have everything on their side — momentum, history and their No. 1 pitcher on the mound. After much debate about what manager Tony La Russa would do, Chris Carpenter is set to start on three days' rest for the second time in his career.

The first time was Game 2 of the NL division series in Philadelphia, and that one didn't go very well. But the 36-year-old right-hander says he learned a few things about how to handle pitching on short rest.

The home team has won the last eight Game 7s in the World Series, a streak started by the Cardinals in 1982 against Milwaukee. This is the first time the Series has gone the distance since 2002, when the Angels beat San Francisco.

Matt Harrison gets the ball for Texas. Let down by his defense, he was pulled in the fourth inning of a Game 3 defeat.

Twice, the Rangers were one strike away from their first World Series championship Thursday night. They couldn't nail it down.

Now, after such a painful defeat, can they possibly recover?

Almost lost in all the back-and-forth excitement Thursday night were injuries to several key players. Nelson Cruz strained his right groin and Mike Napoli twisted his left ankle, but both Rangers sluggers are in the Game 7 lineup.

Matt Holliday, however, was removed from the St. Louis roster with a bruised right wrist. Allen Craig starts in left field in place of Holliday.

La Russa also dropped slumping leadoff man Rafael Furcal to seventh in the lineup and Skip Schumaker to eighth. Second baseman Ryan Theriot is at the top of the order and Craig bats second in front of Albert Pujols.