A look at the best-of-seven World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals:
Schedule: (All times EDT) Game 1, Wednesday, at St. Louis (8:05 p.m.); Game 2, Thursday, at St. Louis (8:05 p.m.); Game 3, Saturday, at Arlington, Texas (8:05 p.m.); Game 4, Sunday, at Arlington, Texas (8:05 p.m.); x-Game 5, Monday, Oct. 24, at Arlington, Texas (8:05 p.m.); x-Game 6, Wednesday, Oct. 26, at St. Louis (8:05 p.m.); x-Game 7, Thursday, Oct. 27, at St. Louis (8:05 p.m.). (All games on FOX).
Season Series: Did not play.
Rangers: 2B Ian Kinsler (.255, 32, 77, 121 runs, 30 SBs), SS Elvis Andrus (.279, 5, 60, 96 runs, 37 SBs), CF Josh Hamilton (.298, 25, 94 in 121 games), DH Michael Young (career-high .338, 11, 106 with 213 hits), 3B Adrian Beltre (.296, 32, 105), C Mike Napoli (career highs .320, 30, 75 in 113 games), RF Nelson Cruz (.263, 29, 87 in 124 games), LF David Murphy (.275, 11, 46), 1B Mitch Moreland (.259, 16, 51).
Cardinals: SS Rafael Furcal (.231, 8 HRs, 28 RBIs, 9 SBs with Dodgers and Cardinals), CF Jon Jay (.297, 10, 37), 1B Albert Pujols (.299, 37, 99, 105 runs), RF Lance Berkman (.301, 31, 94, .412 OBP), LF Matt Holliday (.296, 22, 75, .388 OBP), 3B David Freese (.297, 10, 55), C Yadier Molina (.305, 14, 65, both career bests), 2B Ryan Theriot (.271, 1, 47, 442 ABs, 18 errors) or Skip Schumaker (.283, 2, 38) or Nick Punto (.278, 1, 20, 133 ABs).
Rangers: LH C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA, career-high 223 1-3 IP, 206 Ks, 74 walks), RH Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40), LH Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95, 4 shutouts; 10-1 with 2.77 ERA in last 15 starts), LH Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39).
Cardinals: RH Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.49, 237 1-3 innings, 191 Ks, 4 CGs, 2 shutouts), LH Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56, 2 shutouts), RH Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79 with White Sox and Cardinals; 5-2, 3.58 for St. Louis since trade-deadline deal), RH Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.49 ERA, 1 shutout).
Rangers: RH Neftali Feliz (2-3, 2.74, 32/38 saves), RH Mike Adams (2-3, 2.10, 1 save in 27 games for Rangers; 3-1, 1.13 in 48 appearances for Padres), RH Alexi Ogando (13-8, 3.51 in 31 games, 29 starts, for converted reliever who returned to bullpen for postseason), LH Michael Gonzalez (2-2, 4.39 in 56 games for Rangers and Orioles), LH Darren Oliver (5-5, 2.29, 61 games), RH Scott Feldman (2-1, 3.94 in 11 games, 2 starts, since return from microfracture surgery on right knee), RH Koji Uehara (2-3, 2.35 in 65 games for Rangers and Orioles), RH Yoshinori Tateyama (2-0, 4.50, 1 save, 39 games).
Cardinals: RH Jason Motte (5-2, 2.25, 9/13 saves, 78 games), RH Fernando Salas (5-6, 2.28, 24/30 saves), RH Octavio Dotel (3-3, 3.28, 2 saves), LH Marc Rzepczynski (0-3, 3.97), RH Lance Lynn (1-1, 3.12, 1 save, 18 games, 2 starts, 40 Ks, 34 2-3 IP), LH Arthur Rhodes (0-1, 4.15 in 19 games with Cardinals; 3-3, 4.81, 1 save in 32 games with Rangers), RH Mitchell Boggs (2-3, 3.56, 4 saves), RH Kyle McClellan (12-7, 4.19, 43 games, 17 starts).
Quite a contrast in history, these two clubs. The favorite team for generations of fans all over the Midwest, the Cardinals are instantly recognizable with their red birds on the bat and loyal support in baseball-mad St. Louis. They own 10 World Series titles, second-most behind the New York Yankees (27), and are looking for their second championship in six seasons. Meanwhile, the Rangers franchise began play as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961. The team moved to Texas, with Ted Williams as manager, and changed its name in 1972. ... The Rangers were strangers to October success for the club's first 49 years. They were the only current major league franchise that had never won a playoff series until last season's run to the Fall Classic, where they lost in five games to San Francisco. Turns out, that taste of near triumph was not enough for this team. Even after losing ace lefty Cliff Lee in free agency, Texas appeared confident all season and determined to get back to the big stage for a chance at taking care of unfinished business. ... The last team to win the World Series one year after losing it was Oakland (1988-89). Texas is the first team to repeat as AL champions since the New York Yankees won four straight pennants from 1998-2001. ... Texas hasn't lost consecutive games since dropping three in a row to Boston from Aug. 23-25. ... The only time these teams met in interleague play was June 2004, when the Cardinals took two of three in Texas. St. Louis scored 27 runs during the weekend series, but the Rangers beat Carpenter 7-2. ... The matchup between two of baseball's deepest bullpens should be fascinating. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was extremely aggressive during the NL championship series against division rival Milwaukee, pulling his starters early at the first sign of real trouble. It worked, thanks to poised performances from unheralded arms such as Lynn, Motte, Salas, Dotel and Rzepczynski. La Russa wanted an eight-man bullpen with enough right-handers to attack Milwaukee's big ri ght-handed bats. He faces a similar scenario against Texas, especially after Cruz went on a record tear to win MVP honors in the ALCS. ... Rangers skipper Ron Washington has a host of weapons in his 'pen, too. Ogando, an All-Star starter this season, tamed the Tigers in the ALCS along with Feliz, Feldman, Adams and Oliver. ... With three left-handers in the Texas rotation, Theriot and outfielder Allen Craig (.315, 11, 40, 200 ABs) could see significant playing time for the Cardinals. Freese, the NLCS MVP who is enjoying a big postseason, might also move up in the lineup, with Jay dropping down toward the bottom. ... Even though they boast some bruising right-handed bats in the middle of the order, the Cardinals had trouble with a pair of lefties in the NL playoffs: Philadelphia's Cole Hamels and Milwaukee's Randy Wolf. St. Louis did rally against Lee to springboard a stunning upset of the heavily favored Phillies in the first round. ... Texas has been waiting for a big start from Wilson this postseason. A potential free agent after the World Series, perhaps he's feeling the pressure. The lefty is 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in 3 outings. ... Pujols can also become a free agent this fall. He's having a strong postseason, and if he leaves St. Louis it would be a surprise. ... The wild-card Cardinals have home-field advantage in the World Series because the NL won the All-Star game for the second straight year after a long drought. ... The versatile Young can start at 1B when NL rules eliminate the DH in St. Louis. Moreland was 2 for 19 (.105) in the playoffs. ... Rhodes can get his first ring either way. He was released by Texas on Aug. 8 and signed with St. Louis three days later. ... The Rangers sent Oliver to the Cardinals at the July 1998 trade deadline.
Rangers: Texas set a franchise record with 96 victories and won its second consecutive AL West title after more than a decade out of the playoffs. This is the Rangers' fifth time in the postseason, all as division winners (1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011). ... Texas finished the regular season winning its last six games, and 14 of 16, to hold off Detroit for home-field advantage in the first round. That came in handy when the teams met in the ALCS as the Rangers went 3-0 at home to eliminate the Tigers with a 15-5 romp in Game 6. ... The Rangers have increased their win total each year under Washington, who is in his fifth season. ... Though they lost Lee to Philadelphia in the offseason, the Rangers bulked up their offense with the additions of Napoli in a trade and free-agent Beltre, who chose Texas over the Angels. Beltre, who missed six weeks with a strained left hamstring, hit 12 homers in the last 16 regular-season games. Then he homered three times in the Game 4 clincher at Tampa Bay during the division series. ... Napoli ended the regular season with consecutive two-homer games at Los Angeles, where he had previously played. Then he had a go-ahead homer in Game 3 of the division series after a key two-run single in Game 2 when Rangers fans were chanting his name. He batted .316 with a HR and 5 RBIs in the AL playoffs. Murphy quietly hit .391. ... The Rangers had three players with 30 homers (Kinsler, Beltre and Napoli) for the first time since 1999 (Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and Rafael Palmeiro). ... Young, the longest-tenured Rangers player, requested a trade last winter after Beltre joined the team. Young played 3B the past two seasons after previously being a shortstop and second baseman for Texas. Napoli was a catcher who also played first base and DH, the two spots expected for Young after Beltre signed. Once he got to spring training, Young put his focus on the field and in his 11th season hit a career-best .338 while splitting time between DH and the infield. He was struggling in the playoffs b efore breaking out with 5 RBIs in Game 6 against Detroit. ... After winning the AL MVP award last season, Hamilton was only a dozen days into the new season when he sustained a non-displaced fracture at the top of his right arm when he tried to score with a daring dash on a foul popup at Detroit. He was out six weeks. ... The Rangers were already in first place to stay when Hamilton and Cruz (strained right quadriceps) returned to the lineup May 23. ... Texas led the majors with a .283 batting average, was second with 210 homers and third with 855 runs. The Rangers also had a major league-low 930 strikeouts. ... The team's 3.79 ERA was its lowest since the club-record 3.31 in 1983. ... The staff had 1,179 strikeouts, two off the team record set last year, and the 461 walks were the fewest in a full season since 1978.
Cardinals: A resilient team that was written off after 20-game winner Adam Wainwright underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in February, St. Louis looked finished on Aug. 25, when it was 10 1/2 games behind the Braves for the NL wild card. The low point was getting swept in a three-game series against the Dodgers at home. At one point, La Russa worried that his club might finish below .500. Having climbed a nearly impossible peak with the help of Atlanta's collapse, the confident Cardinals (90-72) appear loose and determined. They're dangerous, too, with a lineup anchored by the big three of Pujols, Holliday and Berkman finally producing with consistency. Carpenter became an ace again after Wainwright went down and the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner was a horse down the stretch, winning 10 of his last 12 regular-season decisions following a 1-7 start. He threw a three-hitter for a 1-0 win at Philadelphia in Game 5 of the division series, outpitching old pal Roy Halladay to finish off the Phillies, and then found himself in the middle of the storm before the NLCS opener. Milwaukee pitcher Zack Greinke said Brewers players don't like Carpenter because they think he has a "phony attitude" when he barks at batters from the mound. Carpenter took the high road, at least publicly, and went five innings for a Game 3 win without his best stuff. Carpenter also was a big key to St. Louis' surprise championship in 2006. ... The Cardinals are in the postseason for the ninth time in La Russa's 16 seasons and second time in three years. They finished with seven more regular-season wins than the 2006 World Series champs. This playoff charge is as improbable as the one five years ago, when St. Louis backed into the postseason with 83 wins. ... Heading into free agency for the first time, Pujols just missed extending his career streak of 10 consecutive seasons with 30 homers, 100 RBIs and a .300 batting average. ... Deadline deals for Furcal and Jackson paid off, although Furcal struggled defensively down the stretch, committing five errors in a six-game stretch in the waning days. ... The hard-throwing Motte was successful overall in an audition for the 2012 closer job after developing a reliable off-speed pitch to complement his high-90s (mph) fastball. He was outstanding in the playoffs, too. ... The Cardinals overcame adversity down the stretch. Motte was wild as they blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning against the Mets in game No. 156. In game No. 157, McClellan gave up a tiebreaking homer in the eighth. And after dropping the playoff opener, St. Louis was down 4-0 to Lee in Game 2 at Philadelphia before rallying to win the game and the series. ... Holliday got rolling in the NLCS and appears to be recovered from an inflamed tendon on his right ring finger. ... St. Louis hit into an NL-record 169 double plays, breaking the mark set by the 1958 Cardinals, but compensated with a .273 average that was the best among playoff teams. The Cardinals also led the NL with 4.68 runs per game and a .288 average with runners in scoring position.
_ Cruz Control. The Rangers' right fielder did it all in the ALCS, putting on an unprecedented power show and cutting down a runner at the plate with a rocket throw in a crucial situation. He had six homers and 13 RBIs _ both major league records for a postseason series _ and finished 8 for 22 (.364) with two doubles. He seems to enjoy the spotlight, too. Cruz was 15 for 40 (.375) with 5 HRs, 5 doubles and 8 RBIs in the AL playoffs last season before going 4 for 20 (.200) with a homer and 3 RBIs in the World Series.
_ Fond Farewell? Pujols got a standing ovation before his final regular-season game at home and he'll get at least two more doses of love from adoring St. Louis fans in the World Series. The three-time MVP has had nothing of substance to say about his impending free agency since cutting off negotiations on a long-term deal before the start of spring training. Rather than allowing Pujols' situation to paralyze them, the Cardinals have already started planning for next season by signing Berkman to a one-year deal and Carpenter to a two-year extension. They've also stated interest in retaining Furcal.
_ Young At Heart. Young adapted to his new role this year and had a team-high 159 starts, the ninth time in 10 seasons he played at least 155 games. He started 69 as the DH, 39 at third base, 36 at first, 14 at second and one at shortstop. He became the only player to have at least 200 hits (213) while playing 35 games or more at three different positions. Before last year, Young had played 1,508 regular-season games without tasting the postseason. This year, Game 1 of the World Series is scheduled on his 35th birthday.
_ Spark Plug. The scrappy Schumaker, who can also play the outfield, missed the NLCS because of a strained muscle on his right side. He expects to be available for the World Series. Schumaker went 6 for 10 in the division series with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs. He drove in the only run against Halladay in the first inning of Game 5.