- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mike Napoli just ripped a two-run homer to right field, tying the score at 2 in the fifth inning.

You don’t see many opposite-field homers that sail that far over the fence. It was a no-doubter right off the bat. Napoli knew it was gone, and so did Rangers manager Ron Washington. Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman hardly moved.

Impressive power.

Must be something about that No. 7 spot in the Texas lineup. That’s where Nelson Cruz was during the ALCS against Detroit. He moved up a spot in the World Series opener, with Napoli dropped to seventh.

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The Cardinals broke through first, in the fourth inning.

Albert Pujols was hit on the foot by a pitch from C.J. Wilson and Matt Holliday doubled into the right-field corner. Berkman also went the other way, bouncing a two-run single over first base for a 2-0 lead.

It was an unusual swing. Odd to see a right-handed hitter bounce a chopper down the first base line.

Berkman tagged up and went to second on a deep flyout by David Freese. Wilson avoided further damage, though. He’s throwing the ball pretty well _ much better than his previous postseason starts this year.

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The Cardinals got a leadoff single in the third from Nick Punto. Chris Carpenter tried to bunt him over but fouled off strike three and St. Louis failed to score.

Carpenter and Wilson appeared to be settling in. Both pitchers were finding their rhythm and getting groundballs. The cool weather could be helping, too. Game-time temperature was 49 degrees and it’s windy. Doesn’t look like a fun night for hitters. Infielders are being careful with their throws, too.

Quite a contrast for the Rangers. They played 27 home games this season when the temperature was 100 degrees or more at first pitch. But in the World Series opener, even Washington was wearing gloves, and shortstop Elvis Andrus had a ski hat under his cap to keep warm.

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Carpenter is fired up, yelling at himself on the mound after missing with a pitch. He got pumped up again after getting Napoli to ground into a double play to end the top of the second.

Just before that, Carpenter was pretty careful with Cruz, walking him with first base open and one out. No surprise, after the record-setting series Cruz had in the ALCS against Detroit _ six homers and 13 RBIs.

Adrian Beltre’s one-out double went off the glove of a diving Freese at third base, the second ball that Freese got his glove on but couldn’t corral.

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Did someone fail to turn the microphone on when “American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery started singing the national anthem? Or maybe the Busch Stadium public address system wasn’t on? Seemed that way. His lips were moving, couldn’t hear a thing on TV.

Nice recovery, though.

A couple of notable tweaks to the lineups tonight. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa went with Punto at second base instead of Ryan Theriot _ even against Wilson, a lefty.

Washington moved Cruz up from seventh to sixth in the lineup.

Ian Kinsler almost spun himself into the ground on his leadoff single for Texas. Freese, playing in at third, could have had it. So much for that NLCS magic.

Kinsler promptly was caught stealing by catcher Yadier Molina. What an arm!

Dangerous play at first base, with Carpenter diving to catch a low throw from Pujols at first. Carpenter hits the bag with both hands, ahead of Andrus. Carpenter was lucky he wasn’t spiked on the hand. Nobody was hurt.

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The weather was crummy for a bunch of playoff games this year, so why would the World Series be any different?

Because of some light rain in the late afternoon, there was no batting practice on the field for the Texas Rangers or St. Louis Cardinals before Game 1.

Temperatures were in the 40s at Busch Stadium and winds were gusting up to 27 mph.

Game 2 may not be much better.

Should be an interesting matchup on the mound. Anyone who watched Carpenter outduel Roy Halladay in Game 5 against the Phillies knows Carpenter can rise to the occasion when the pressure is on.

Let’s see about Wilson. He can be a free agent this fall, but he’s probably cost himself a few bucks already this postseason _ he’s 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three outings.

If teams are going to offer him big money this winter, they certainly want to know he can be a big-game guy.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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