Cardinals' bats suffer historic decline

Cardinals' bats suffer historic decline

ARLINGTON -- If the Cardinals expected any momentum from their massive offensive performance in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night, it didn't happen on Sunday.

Their 16-run decline matched a World Series record, and the 13 fewer hits equaled the second-biggest decline in the history of the Fall Classic as the Rangers defeated the Cardinals, 4-0, holding them to a pair of safeties. Texas tied the best-of-seven Series at two games apiece, with Game 5 back here at 8:05 ET on Monday night.

"You know the old saying. It's the next day's starting pitcher. That's what momentum is," said Lance Berkman, who had both of his club's hits -- a second-inning double and fifth-inning single. "There really is no momentum. The reason for that saying is when you show up and play the game tomorrow, if your guy pitches a good game, you have a chance, and if their guy does, you don't."

Berkman joined Frank Howard of the Dodgers (1963) and Pepper Martin of the Cardinals ('31) as the only players to accumulate their club's only two hits in a single World Series game.

In Game 3, the Cardinals crushed six Rangers pitchers, 16-7, on 15 hits, including a record-tying three homers by Albert Pujols. Against starter Derek Holland and closer Neftali Feliz in Game 4, Pujols went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, and the Cardinals never moved a runner past second base.

Hit and then miss
One night after notching 15 hits, the Cardinals managed just two hits, which is the second-largest drop off for one team from one World Series game to the next.
Drop off Year Team Hits/games
16 1946 Cardinals 20 in Game 4; 4 in Game 5
13 2011 Cardinals 15 in Game 3; 2 in Game 4
13 1993 Blue Jays 18 in Game 4; 5 in Game 5
13 1986 Red Sox 18 in Game 2; 5 in Game 3
13 1936 Yankees 17 in Game 2; 4 in Game 3

The 16-run falloff matched the 1936 Yankees, who won Game 2 of that World Series, 18-4, at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants, and Game 3, 2-1, across the river in the Bronx at the original Yankee Stadium. The Yankees won the Series in six games.

The 1946 Cardinals went from 20 hits in Game 4 against the Red Sox to four in Game 5, a 16-hit decline. The Cardinals won that World Series over Boston in seven games.

The 1993 Blue Jays went from 18 hits in Game 4 against the Phillies to five hits in Game 5, a 13-hit drop. The Jays won that Series in six games on Joe Carter's walk-off homer.

All this proves that each game is its own contained unit and that quick adjustments can change the course of action from one day to the next, as it did here this weekend.

The difference for the Rangers?

"It was Holland and [catcher] Mike Napoli," said Texas manager Ron Washington. "[Holland] was able to use his pitches all around the strike zone. He had good offspeed stuff tonight, kept them off balance, moved them in, up and down. He and Napoli worked outstanding tonight. And that was the reason. It was Derek Holland and Mike Napoli."

The difference for the Cardinals?

"Holland," Berkman said. "The guy throws 95 miles per hour from the left side. How many starting pitchers in the game do that? There are a handful of them, and they're all studs: Jon Lester, CC Sabathia, David Price. If the guy moves the ball around the zone, it's going to be very tough to hit him."

The Rangers have now played 14 games in the postseason, and because of Holland's 8 1/3-inning, two-hit, two-walk, seven-strikeout performance, they were able to use less than four pitchers in a single game for the first time.

In Game 3, Rangers starter Matt Harrison couldn't make it out of the fourth inning. For his part in that one, Pujols had five hits, setting World Series records for hits in four successive innings and 14 total bases. His six RBIs tied a World Series mark.

Obviously, he didn't have the same success against Holland, who collared him three times.

"He did an outstanding job," Pujols said. "It was a big leap for them. He saved the bullpen. In Game 3, we got into the bullpen deep, and that's what we couldn't do today. For me, I got some good pitches to hit, and I just missed them. But that's just part of the game."

So is that fickle beast momentum.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.