Texas' first World Series appearance last season ended in a five-game loss to the San Francisco Giants. But, the Rangers head to St. Louis tonight with a 3-2 series lead and a chance to close the Cardinals out with exactly the man they want on the hill in right-hander Colby Lewis.
"Well, you definitely think when you're a kid, you want to be in this position, be on this stage," Lewis said. "I think just being in the situation that we were last year throughout the playoffs gives you more of an edge, more relaxation. That's for sure."
Lewis has emerged as one of the best postseason pitchers in baseball over the last two seasons, going 4-1 with a 2.22 earned run average and a 1.07 WHIP (walks and hits per inning) in seven starts.
"He totally believes in what he's trying to do out there," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He never gets away from what he does best. That's mainly the key right there. ... Colby never doubts what he's capable of doing, and I think that's what [sets] him apart from some guys at this stage."
Lewis, who is 1-1 in three starts this postseason with a 2.95 ERA, did not get a decision in his Game 2 start, despite a terrific effort that saw him allow just a run and four hits in 6 2/3 innings.
The Rangers put themselves in this position with a win on Monday, as Mike Napoli's two-run double proved to be the difference in the 4-2 win.
"I'm glad I can help to contribute," Napoli said. "Anybody in this lineup can do it. You've got to give (Adrian) Beltre credit for hitting the homer to tie the game up. If he doesn't do that, I don't have a chance to do that in the eighth inning. We all do it together, and there are key things that are overlooked, but we fought hard."
Napoli, who has driven in nine runs in this World Series and is hitting .314 with three home runs and 14 RBI this postseason, also snuffed out two potential Cardinals' rallies by gunning down Allen Craig at second on what were supposed to be hit-and-runs with Albert Pujols at the plate.
The Cardinals didn't help themselves any in the Game 5 loss, as they were just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 12 runners on base.
"If you're going to beat a good team at their ballpark, you've got to capitalize when you have the opportunity," Berkman said. "The longer you go without it, the more confidence I think they have that somebody's going to have a big hit."
Since erupting for 16 runs in Saturday's Game 3 triumph, the Cardinals have managed just two runs. Take away that rout and St. Louis is 4-for-30 with runners in scoring position this series.
And aside from his epic Game 3 performance, Pujols is 0-for-12 in the set.
History does not appear to be on the Cardinals' side, as the team that won Game 5 has prevailed in 26 of the previous 39 World Series that were tied at two after four games. However, of the five previous occasions that St. Louis has been in this position it has gone on to win the series four times.
Getting the call for the Cardinals tonight will be lefty Jaime Garcia, who is 0-2 this postseason with a 3.97 ERA. Garcia was tremendous against the Rangers in Game 2, as he scattered three hits over seven scoreless innings, but did not factor in the decision of his team's 2-1 loss.
"You don't want to think that because that happened once, that's going to happen again," Garcia said. "Every time I go out there, I'm thinking that I want to do good. What I've done in the past against them, you learn from that, but you move forward."
Over his last six home starts Garcia is 3-1 with a 1.87 ERA. He's also pitched to a 0.77 ERA at Busch here in the playoffs.
"I'm going to sleep good and get ready," Garcia added. "I've worked really hard in between starts through the whole season to get to this point, and it all comes down to whoever is better."
Should the Rangers win tonight they would become the ninth different team in the last 11 years to win a World Series title. They'd also become the seventh expansion team to win and the first since the Anaheim Angels in 2002 to win their first-ever title.
If necessary, Game 7 will be played on Thursday at Busch.