Cards win in 11; series goes to Game 7

freeseNo (live) rally squirrels were spotted, but given the events of Game 6 they must have been nearby.

What started out as an ugly game with the Cardinals committing three errors and the Rangers – or Michael Young more specifically – accounting for two, somehow turned into one of the most exciting and memorable World Series games ever.

Five times the Texas Rangers took the lead, starting with an RBI single from Hamilton in the first inning. Five times the Cardinals clawed their way back. Twice the Cardinals were down to their last strike, twice their hitters came through.

With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth, hometown hero David Freese took a two strike pitch from Rangers closer Neftali Feliz into the wall in right field for a bases clearing, game tying triple. But the Rangers responded in the top of the 10th with Josh Hamilton’s two run blast – his first homerun in over 80 at-bats. In the bottom of the tenth Ron Washington brought in left-handed pitcher Darren Oliver to face two left-handed batters Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay, each of whom promptly hit singles. The pitcher’s spot was next in the lineup and Tony LaRussa was out of bench players to pinch hit. So he sent in pitcher Kyle Lohse to bunt. Lohse bunted in the air out of reach of third baseman Adrian Beltre and shortstop Elvis Andrus had to make a great play to get the out at first. Ryan Theriot followed with a ground out to third that scored Descalso. With first base open, the Rangers elected to give a pass to Albert Pujols in order to face Lance Berkman (who is leading all hitters with a .435 average in the World Series). Again the Cardinals found themselves down to their last strike when Feldman worked the count to 2-2. But the Cardinals were not done. Lance Berkman sliced the 2-2 pitch into shallow right and with the outfield playing deep, Jon Jay scored easily from second to tie the game. With the winning run on third for the second inning in a row, Allen Craig struck out.

In the top of the 11th inning, Tony LaRussa brought in regular season starting pitcher Jake Westbrook who had seen almost no work at all in the postseason. After getting Cruz to fly out, Westbrook gave up a single to Mike Napoli and then another fly out to bring up the pitcher’s spot. Feldman has only pitched one inning and throughout the postseason has been the most consistent relief pitcher for the Rangers, but Ron Washington decided to pinch hit for him. In a move that will no doubt be questioned (again), he went deep into his bench to bring up Esteban German, leaving Yorvit Torrealba on the bench. German also appeared in the first two games of the series as a pinch hitter, going 0-2. He remained perfect for the series, grounding out to end the inning.

With Feldman gone in the bottom of the 11th, the Rangers brought in Mark Lowe to pitch to David Freese. That didn’t last long. Freese took a fast ball deep to straightaway center field for a walk-off homerun that sends the series to Game 7 tomorrow night.

Game ball – is obviously David Freese’s. His triple in the ninth and dinger in the 11th make him a true hometown hero tonight.

Play of the game – just one? There are several here: Mike Napoli throwing Holliday out at third (and Beltre blocking the bag with his foot); Kyle Lohse’s bunt that prevented the double play and moved both runners into scoring position; David Freese’s triple (and Cruz’s misplay of it); the Freese homer; Berkman’s single in the 10th.

Blown call of the night – belongs to Ron Washington for several questionable calls. One, he let Colby Lewis hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the 5th while clinging to a one run lead. That wasn’t as bad as taking Feliz out after the ninth. Or leaving Holland in to pitch in the 8th. What do you have Mike Adams for if not to pitch the 8th inning? I understand the idea of bringing in a lefty to pitch to two lefty batters, but taking out your closer to do it? I don’t get that. And then finally, there’s using German as a pinch hitter instead of Torrealba. German had some success in the regular season – some (11 games, 11 AB, .455 avg with 5 RBI) – but has done nothing (literally) in the World Series. Still don’t get that move. But Wash is enthralled with this guy for some reason.

Worst moment – Bottom of the 10th, the Cardinals are down 9-8, two outs, Jon Jay on second and Albert Pujols on first. Lance Berkman is at the plate and the count is now 2-2. The Cardinals are down to their last strike and like most Cardinal fans, I am a complete mess. Feldman starts his windup and…the power goes out. I kid you not. The power on our street – and only our street – goes out just as Feldman was about to throw the ball. Unreal. (I got my phone and was able to follow the box score to see that Berkman got a hit and Craig got out. Fortunately the power came back on before the next inning).

Tomorrow night – Game 3 starter Matt Harrison is the man for Ron Washington. There had been some speculation that he might use Derek Holland, but those rumors were squashed when Holland pitched two innings in relief in Game 6. Tony LaRussa has not said who will start game 7, but virtually everyone assumes it will be Chris Carpenter. Either way, Game 7 sets up to be like Game 6 in that both teams will use any and all of their players. If Carpenter does start, he will be doing so on three days rest, which did not work out well last time. Also, the sports chatter guys are making a big deal out of the fact that it will be the third time in 10 days that the Rangers will see Carpenter’s pitches. On the other hand, as Tim McCarver pointed out, that didn’t hurt Bob Gibson any (a reference to the fact that Bob Gibson pitched 3 and won 2 World Series games in 1964, throwing a complete game in Game 7. He also pitched 3 World Series games in 1968, but lost game 7). Should be a great game. Don’t miss it!

Other notes – no team had come back from 2 run deficits twice after the 8th inning; Nelson Cruz hit his 8th homerun of the postseason, tying him for most ever (but keep in mind there are more postseason games now than there were before 1969); Mike Napoli continued his impressive run by getting on base 5 times in Game 6.

October 28, 2011  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Sports, St. Louis Cardinals

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