Friday, October 28, 2011

Cardinal Walk-Off Caps Amazing Game 6

After the Rangers scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning, taking all the momentum that the Cardinals had gained a half-inning earlier, it looked like Texas would cruise to its first World Series title.  The Cardinals had been a comeback machine all season, but they finally looked like they were running out of steam.  The Texas clubhouse was ready for a party, and the great state of Texas was ready to forget that it's football season.

Too bad nobody informed the Cardinals that their season was supposed to end.  Down to their last strike in the ninth inning, down 7-5, homegrown product David Freese stepped to the plate for the Cardinals and laced a ball into right field.  The game should have ended with a Nelson Cruz catch in right field, and Texas should be in the middle of a celebration.  Instead, Freese hit a game-tying triple that scored two runs.  Cruz made the inexplicable mistake of allowing a ball to fly over his head with two outs in the ninth, up by two runs.  THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.  The Rangers were playing a no-doubles defense because only the second base runner mattered.  The only ball that should travel over an outfielder's head in that situation is a home run.  Cruz was out of position, took a bad route to the ball, and slowed down as he reached the warning track.  It would be considered a terrible mental mistake during the regular season, let alone the most important game in franchise history.  Kudos to Nelson Cruz for giving us the first Game Seven in a decade.

Freese's triple pushed the game into extra innings.  Yet again the Rangers took the lead, this time on an improbable home run from star Josh Hamilton.  Hobbled by an injured groin for the entire postseason (one that would have put him on the DL during the regular season), Hamilton had struggled to hit with any power and his go ahead home run last night was his first bomb of the postseason.  Again, it seemed like it could be the perfect ending: the former addict winning Game Six and leading the Rangers to World Series glory.

However, down to their final strike yet again, the Cardinals managed to come back from the dead.  Rangers manager Ron Washington brought in veteran Darren Oliver to try and close out the game in the tenth.  It was an  interesting choice by Washington since Oliver is mainly a setup/situational pitcher, not necessarily someone who you want closing out a huge playoff game.  Oliver promptly gave up two singles and a sacrifice bunt pushed them to second and third.  Washington brought in reliever Scott Feldman (who should have started the inning).  Ryan Theriot grounded out, scoring Daniel Descalso, and then Feldman intentionally walked Albert Pujols to bring up Lance Berkman.  Berkman hit a two strike single to score John Jay to tie the game.  Watching the action, it seemed like even though the Rangers got out of the inning with a tied score, they were deflated and on the verge of losing.

Texas couldn't score in the top of the 11th inning and the rest is history.  David Freese led off the bottom of the eleventh with one of the greatest walk-off home runs in World Series history and the Cardinals survived to force a Game Seven.  St. Louis will turn to ace Chris Carpenter tonight as they try to become one of the most improbable World Series champs in recent memory.  For the Rangers, last night's devastating loss may signal a heartbreaking end to their championship hopes.  They were so close, and yet they allowed the Cardinals to become the first team ever to be down to their last strike twice and still come out with a victory.    For Game Seven, tune into FOX tonight at 8:05 ET.

1 comment:

  1. Cards will take Game 7. No one has been able to put them away. Not being able to close it out will come back to bite Texas.