On a cold night that seemed more appropriate for football than baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers were tied 0-0 after three innings in Wednesday night's World Series opener.
A fired up Chris Carpenter escaped a two-on, no-outs jam in the second inning when the Rangers' Mike Napoli hit into an inning-ending double play. While Carpenter needed 42 pitches to get his first nine outs, Texas starter C.J. Wilson was slightly more efficient and used 40 as he prevented St. Louis from advancing a runner past first base.
Texas had two hits through the first three innings and St. Louis one.
In a matchup of aces, the starters entered with differing October results. Carpenter, the 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner, was 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA and helped the wild-card Cardinals avoid first-round elimination with a three-hitter than beat Philadelphia 1-0 to win the division series. Wilson, the Rangers' left-hander with the big kick on his follow-through, was 0-2 with 8.04 ERA in three postseason starts.
Pumped up Cardinals fans clad in red and waving white towels filled the ballpark for a game with a temperature of 49 degrees at the start, tied for the third-coldest for a Series opener since Major League Baseball started keeping records in 1975. All the Cardinals' starters wore long-sleeve undershirts, but Michael Young, David Murphy and Nelson Cruz of the Rangers were in short sleeves.
The World Series had not been played in St. Louis since 2006, when the Cardinals won the title in the first year of new Busch Stadium. Game 1 has been an indicator of success in recent decades: The winner has captured seven of the last eight titles, 12 of the last 14 and 19 of the last 23. In addition, the team hosting Game 1 has won 20 of the last 25 World Series.
While the Cardinals were seeking their 11th title _ leading to 11 in '11 promotions _ Texas was looking for the first championship in the history of the franchise, which began in 1961 as the expansion Washington Senators and moved to Texas for the 1972 season. The Rangers made it to the World Series for the first time last year, losing to San Francisco in five games.
It was an uncommon matchup, the first World Series between the NL Central and AL West since baseball split each league into six divisions for the 1994 season. The teams were playing for the first time since St. Louis won two of three during their only regular-season meeting, at Texas in June 2004.
Ian Kinsler led off the game with a two-hopper that bounced off the glove of a diving David Freese for a single as the third baseman stared at his leather _ as if it were the glove's fault.
Kinsler took a big turn but didn't go for second, and two pitches later he was caught stealing by catcher Yadier Molina. Elvis Andrus hit a bouncer between first and second that Albert Pujols got to, and he threw low to first base, where Carpenter made a diving grab in the dirt _ like a football receiver. Unsure whether he touched first base with his glove as he slid by, Carpenter slapped the bag with his right hand, then tucked in his arm to avoid getting stepped on.
Adrian Beltre doubled with one out in the second, another two-hopper that bounced off pretty much the same spot on Freese's glove. Carpenter pitched around Nelson Cruz, walking the ALCS MVP who hit six home runs against Detroit. The strategy was vindicated when Napoli grounded into a 6-4-3 DP.
Nick Punto, starting at second instead of Ryan Theriot, singled leading off the third for the Cardinals' first hit. But Carpenter struck out when he fouled off a bunt attempt, Rafael Furcal fanned at a pitch in the dirt and Jon Jay grounded to second.
NOTES: The NL is seeking first consecutive World Series titles since winning four in a row from 1979-82 (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and St. Louis). ... The Cardinals moved ahead of the Dodgers with their 106th World Series game, trailing only the Yankees (225). ... It was the earliest date the World Series started since 2003.