Here are a few pregame notes before the Texas Rangers take on the St. Louis Cardinals in a winner-take-all Game 7 of the World Series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. CT at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
* Nelson Cruz is penciled in the Game 7 lineup even with a strained right groin. The Rangers will see how he gets through batting practice before making a decision whether to keep him in the lineup. If Cruz can’t go, Craig Gentry would start in his place. Manager Ron Washington would go with Gentry over Endy Chavez because of his defense.
* Washington said Cruz simply had a “bad read” on the David Freese two-run triple in the ninth inning. His groin wasn’t an issue on that play.
* Mike Napoli, who rolled his ankle off the second-base bag in the fourth inning of Game 6, is also in the lineup. “He’s a gamer,” Washington said.
* C.J. Wilson will likely be the first reliever used in Game 7. Derek Holland is available, but he threw two innings (and 23 pitches) in Game 6.
* Washington said closer Neftali Feliz remains his guy to close out a game. Washington wasn’t going to send Feliz back out for the 10th inning of Game 6, though, saying: “Just his body language and everything didn’t’ look good after that [ninth] inning was over.”
* Washington said he slept well on Thursday night despite his team being a strike away from a world championship twice, and blowing each opportunity. Washington said he slept in until 10:30 a.m. and felt ready to go.
* Before the game, Washington will talk to his team, although it won’t be a rah-rah speech. Asked what he’d say, Washington said: “I’ll meet with them for about five minutes, but it’s not rah-rah, just matter-of-fact. This is what we played for all year. The prize is still within reach. We bounced back from tough defeats before, and last night was a tough one. And I expect us to bounce back. Still have fun, still play our game, still do what we do, don’t change a thing. That’s it.”
* Despite the gut-wrenching Game 6 loss, Washington can appreciate how great a game it was. Of course the Rangers would have liked to be on the other side, but that didn’t take away from the drama. “It was very exciting game, a lot of highs and lows,” Washington said. “What people got to see was two championship teams going after it. They don’t quit, we don’t quit. They got the final blow, they were fighting for their lives, they survived. But it’s a seven-game series, now we play the seventh game.”
-- Drew Davison