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WORLD SERIES NOTES

Hitters are expected to warm up in Texas

Allen Craig, the Cardinals' most productive batter thus far, will get a start in Game 3.

October 21, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Cardinals utility player Allen Craig gets a pinch hit in the seventh inning of Game 2 to drive in a run against the Texas Rangers.
Cardinals utility player Allen Craig gets a pinch hit in the seventh inning… (Max Faulkner / McClatchy-Tribune )

Reporting from Arlington, Texas -- The Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals combined to hit .195 with one home run and eight runs scored in the first two games of the World Series.

But with the Series tied at a win apiece, the offense is likely to pick up considerably Saturday when the Series moves from frigid St. Louis to the warmth of Texas and the launching pad the Rangers call home.

Batters hit .276 with 228 homers and scored an average of 11 runs a game at Rangers Ballpark this season. Compare those figures to Busch Stadium, where batters hit 20 points lower, had nearly 100 fewer homers and averaged less than 81/2 runs a game.

"It's a tough place to pitch, especially when you see those flags blowing [out]," Kyle Lohse, a 14-game winner during the regular season and the Cardinals' Game 3 starter, said of the Rangers' ballpark. "It usually means that jet stream is going out to right-center. I think everyone in the league knows that.

"Coming in, you've got to keep the ball down, especially against this lineup."

Both teams worked out — and thawed out — at the ballpark Friday, where afternoon temperatures were in the lows 80s, more than 30 degrees warmer than it was for the first two games in St. Louis.

Rangers starter Matt Harrison said the home-field advantage, which now belongs to Texas, goes beyond short fences and a balmy climate.

"You're more comfortable in an environment that you're used to playing in all year," said Harrison, who won 14 games during the regular season and is unbeaten in the postseason. "We had never been to St. Louis. We're in a new territory, so we had to get comfortable there, and we were able to pull one out.

"It seems like now it's just a five-game series and we've got three at home. We've got our fans behind us, which have been great all year. It's going to be a big confidence boost for us, and we're more comfortable playing at home."

Lineup adjustments

Allen Craig has yet to start in the World Series, batting twice as a pinch-hitter in the first two games. Yet, with two hits he has twice as many hits as All-Stars Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina have combined. Craig has also driven in half the Cardinals' four runs, putting his team ahead with run-scoring singles in each game.

Craig will be in the outfield for Game 3, with Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa saying he'll use Lance Berkman as his designated hitter.

Texas Manager Ron Washington wouldn't commit to how his lineup will change with the Series moving to the American League ballpark, but the Rangers are likely to start Yorvit Torrealba behind the plate, move Mike Napoli to first and use Michael Young as the DH.

Josh Hamilton took Friday off to rest a painful strained groin, but is expected to remain in the outfield even though Washington said his condition has not improved.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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