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Cardinals' Arthur Rhodes figures to win either way

WORLD SERIES NOTES

Rhodes was released by the Rangers in August and will get a ring regardless of who wins the World Series. He gets a big out in Game 1, retiring Josh Hamilton on a fly ball to preserve a one-run lead.

October 19, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • St. Louis reliever Arthur Rhodes delivers a pitch during the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday.
St. Louis reliever Arthur Rhodes delivers a pitch during the eighth inning… (Tannen Maury / EPA )

Reporting from St. Louis — Cardinals reliever Arthur Rhodes started the season in Texas, was released by the Rangers in August, signed with St. Louis three days later and is now pitching against his former team in his first World Series.

Which basically means the Rangers, who were responsible for the $1 million left on Rhodes' contract when they let him go, are now paying the left-hander to try to beat them.

Rhodes did that Wednesday in Game 1, retiring Josh Hamilton on a fly ball to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Not that it matters all that much since he gets a championship ring no matter who wins the World Series.

Something similar happened last year after the Rangers traded pitcher Chris Ray to San Francisco for catcher Bengie Molina. Ray didn't play in the World Series, Molina did — yet both players wound up with rings after the Giants won.

Return to normalcy

The four playoff series in the American and National Leagues were slugfests that averaged nearly 10 runs a game — a stark contrast to the tight World Series opener.

And though the chilly conditions no doubt played a part in the change, Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa credited his starter, Chris Carpenter, and Texas' C.J. Wilson for restoring order to the postseason despite trying circumstances.

"For both pitchers the balls were very slick," La Russa said. "They were having a little gripping thing but both of them just competed. And they both did a good job."

For Carpenter, the win was his third of the playoffs and left him unbeaten since Aug. 27. Wilson, who was out of the game when the winning run scored, lost his fifth consecutive postseason decision dating to last season's division series with Tampa Bay.

"C.J. did a good job tonight," Rangers Manager Ron Washington said. "He was in a 2-2 ballgame and he was battling Carpenter. As far as I was concerned, it was a pretty good ballgame."

Pride of a nation

When left-hander Jaime Garcia takes the ball for the Cardinals in Game 2 on Thursday, he will become the first Mexican-born pitcher to start in a World Series since the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

And though Garcia said Wednesday the milestone was an honor, he wasn't aware of the situation until Tuesday.

"I just found out yesterday," said Garcia, who was born in the border town of Reynosa and grew up in Texas. "I'm thrilled to hear that and I'm going to go out there and represent the team, my family and not only my hometown but the whole country of Mexico."

He may have to go some to match Valenzuela's performance, though. In his only World Series appearance, Valenzuela pitched a complete game to beat the New York Yankees in a series the Dodgers won in six games.

Short hops

The first-pitch temperature at Busch Stadium was 49 degrees with a wind chill that made it feel like 43. That's five degrees colder than it was at the start of the NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh last January. … With rain falling intermittently throughout the day, the protective tarp was not removed from the infield until less than two hours before game time, preventing both teams from taking batting practice on the field. … The Rangers and Cardinals have met just once previously, in an interleague series in Texas in 2004. The Cardinals won two of the three games in that series, with the only loss going to Carpenter.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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