ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 27: Gerald Laird #13 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates after David Freese #23 hits a walk off solo home run in the 11th inning to win Game Six of the MLB World Series against the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium on October 27, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals won 10-9. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Instant Classic: Cardinals Force Game 7 After Two Comebacks, Walk-Off Homer

Capping two miraculous comebacks, David Freese led off the bottom of the 11th with a home run to dead center, and the Cardinals beat the Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series, 10-9.

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World Series 2011: Game 6 And Carlton Fisk

Last night's game was a reminder that there are games that don't necessarily need to be validated by a World Series title.


2011 World Series: Joe Buck Pays Tribute To His Dad With David Freese Walkoff Call

20 years and one day ago, Jack Buck, calling the World Series for CBS, said, “And we’ll see you tomorrow night!” as Kirby Puckett hit an 11th-inning walkoff home run in Game 6. Buck then stopped talking and let the pictures tell the story.

Joe Buck, whose calls are at times called bland and uninteresting, paid tribute to his dad when David Freese matched Puckett with his 11th-inning walkoff Thursday night in St. Louis. You can watch both calls here (along with the audio from each matched to the home run from the other game), and A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin exchanged emails with Buck after the game, resulting in these comments:

Daulerio: “Very, very cool moment. Good on you.”

Buck: “Thanks man. Fun night”

Daulerio: “Seriously, did it just come to you or did you have that in your backpocket for a while?”

Buck: “It just fit. Its always there.”

There’s some other video of the moment at Deadspin, and as of the time of this post, about 68% of you agree that Buck’s call was a touching tribute. Vote, if you haven’t already.


2011 World Series: Whither Koji Uehara And Mike Adams?

Texas paid in players and prospects in order to improve their bullpen, but you wouldn't know it if you watched the World Series.


World Series 2011: Josh Hamilton Says God Spoke To Him In Game 6

The 2011 World Series will wrap up on Friday night as Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers look to put away the St. Louis Cardinals after failing to do so on Thursday night. Hamilton's homer in the tenth inning nearly put the Cardinals away in Game 6, however, thanks to some helpful tips from God above.

Literally, apparently, according to Hamilton's post-game comments to the Dallas Morning News.

It didn't come from manager Ron Washington or anybody else on the field. It was a higher voice than that. And it was very clear what message the Lord was sending, Hamilton said.

"He said, you haven't hit one in a while and this is the time you're going to,'' Hamilton said. "But there was a period at the end of that. He didn't say, you're going to hit it and you're going to win.' ''

Hamilton, a born-again Christian after starting off in baseball with a couple of unheavenly habits, also had some tips for those looking to hit more home runs at crucial points of the World Series: Try it sometime.

"I was walking to the plate,'' Hamilton said. "And (it happened) as I was brushing dirt in the batter's box. Very cool. Y'all ought to try it sometime."

It seems as though there might be a chance for a fact-based Angels In The Outfield sequel if the Rangers are able to pull out a victory Friday night at 8:05 on FOX.


World Series 2011: Fan Returns David Freese Home Run Ball

A selfless, American hero is the fan who returns the big home run ball to the ball player, never mind if the real American thing to do is hawk it to the highest bidder as an eBay Item of the Day.

At Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, Dave Huyette got the chance to become a hero when he caught David Freese's game-winning home run, which sent the hometown Cardinals to a decisive Game 7 against the Rangers.

When the 39-year-old radiologist was approached by stadium security and told Freese or the MLB would have interest in the ball, it wasn't a hard choice for him to make (via Yahoo! Sports). Here's what Huyette said:

"Maybe if I had been wanting for money, it'd be different. But I make a good living. I wasn't going to hold the country hostage for the ball.

"I told them I didn't need any money, but it'd be nice to meet some of the players."

We should all be so lucky as to value handshakes over cold hard cash.

But this is where the story gets a little odd. While a Cards fan himself, Huyette, a native of Maryville, Ill., was with his buddy Jeremy Reiland, a Cubs fan ... who was wearing a Cubs shirt to the game (presumably to let people know he was, in fact, a fan of the game of baseball, which was being played in front of them). It was a great moment in awkward locker room history.


2011 World Series, Game 6: Did Ron Washington Blow It?

David Freese might be Middle America's Sweetheart, but there must be at least a few Rangers fans who suffered terrible nightmares about Ron Washington's Game 6 managing. Here's why.


World Series Game 6: The Heroes That Weren't

The big hero in Thursday night's Game 6 of the World Series was, obviously, David Freese. But a handful of Rangers came tantalizingly close to being big heroes instead.


World Series 2011: The What-Ifs Of Game 6

You're right to want to punch the next person who says this is a game of inches. But clichés do start for a reason.


2011 World Series: Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli, Matt Holliday All Injured In Game 6

Game 6 of the 2011 World Series took a lot out of the players, managers and even the fans watching at home as the St. Louis Cardinals staved off elimination and came back to force Game 7 with a 10-9 win over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings. With one game left, though, several players are walking wounded with injuries sustained in Thursday night's game.

On the Rangers side, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli were both injured on Thursday night. Napoli rolled his ankle pretty severely sliding into second base, but was able to finish the game. Nelson Cruz strained his groin late in the Rangers' 11-inning loss to the Cardinals. The latest comes from Brent Gambill.

#Rangers announce Nelson Cruz strained right groin is day to day. Mike Napoli had x-rays on right ankle. They were negative #WorldSeries

For the Cardinals, Matt Holliday injured his right pinky in the win. It's unclear whether the injury will affect his status for Game 7.

Holliday says he thinks he can play in Game 7. Left park with right pinky in a splint and taped, though.

Cruz may be the most questionable for Friday's game with his strained right groin, though Holliday's injury seems problematic, as well. For all three, it may be a situation where they see how they feel on Friday morning and are evaluated again shortly before the game gets underway. But with one game to go and the World Series on the line, one would have to expect all three will fight to be on the field on Friday night.

For more on the Cardinals' wild Game 6 win, check out the rest of the Baseball Nation live-blog and Jeff Sullivan's recap.


2011 World Series, Game 6: David Freese Goes From 'Idiot' To Hero

"I'm just glad I had a chance after I looked like an idiot on that popup," David Freese said after the St. Louis Cardinals' 10-9 win over the Texas Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series.

And boy did David Freese look like an idiot after that popup. Prior to the late-inning heroics on Thursday night, Freese was, at least partially, the goat for the Cardinals. But this was the lasting memory of Freese at the time:


Not the way anyone wants to be remembered in a World Series. Two hands!

And yet, Freese found himself in a position to save the Cardinals in the ninth inning, facing Neftali Feliz with two on and two out. Down to his last strike, Freese ripped a triple to right, tying the game and forcing extras.

"Initially I was like 'Are you kidding me?' My first AB off Feliz in this situation ever," Freese said. "I just beared down, got a pitch to hit. Initially I thought I hit it pretty good, I thought (right fielder Nelson Cruz) was going to grab it, so just a lot of emotions on that one."

He wasn't done, though. The man who looked like an idiot just innings earlier stepped to the plate to lead-off the 11th with the score tied at nine. And with one swing of the bat, the self-proclaimed idiot became the hero, ripping a home run to center to send the World Series to Game 7.

The botched popup is all but forgotten now after Freese's solo shot to cap Game 6. His jersey was ripped off in the celebration at the plate and the Cardinals suddenly have life again after coming one strike from elimination.

For more on the Cardinals' wild Game 6 win, check out the rest of the Baseball Nation live-blog and Jeff Sullivan's recap.


World Series Game 6: David Freese, Cardinals Pull Off Win For The Ages

Twice down to their final strike, the Cardinals refused to lose, and David Freese's walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning guaranteed a Friday night Game 7.


World Series Game 6: David Freese Completes Unbelievable Comeback

Just your standard down-to-your-last-strike-twice-in-the-World-Series. Move along. Nothing to see here. Nothing at all.

The Rangers had the lead in the first, then they gave it up in the bottom of the first. Then the Rangers took the lead in the second, added on in the fourth and fifth, and poured it on in the seventh. When the Cardinals came up in the ninth inning, they were down by two. When David Freese came up, he got behind in the count, 1-2, with two men on.

He hit a triple to tie the game.

Then the Rangers came right back with a two-run homer from Josh Hamilton in the top of the tenth. And again, they had the Cardinals down to their final strike. Lance Berkman was up. He tied the game.

Jake Westbrook came into the game for the top of the 11th, possibly after signing his un-retirement papers to make it official, and after allowing the required hit to Mike Napoli, he got out of the inning by getting pinch-hitter Esteban German to ground out. German was hitting for Scott Feldman, which meant the Rangers had to go back to their bullpen. They paid a pretty substantial price to acquire Koji Uehara at the trading deadline, but in his place on the roster is now held by Mark Lowe.

Lowe had to face David Freese.

The Cardinals won Game 6 on a Freese home run, after Freese tripled to tie the game.

Tonight, Stan Musial might ask David Freese for an autograph. The Cardinals won 10-9 to win Game 6 of the World Series, forcing a final game on Friday night.


World Series Game 6: Cards Come Back Again, Now 9-9 In 11th

If we hadn't seen it, we might not have believed it. Any of it.

The Cardinals were down by three runs in the eighth inning. You don't make up three runs against the Texas Rangers in the last two innings.

The Cardinals made up three runs against the Rangers; one in the eighth, and two in the ninth on David Freese's two-out, two-strike double over Nelson Cruz's head in right field.

If you believe in momentum, you had to believe the Cardinals were heading toward an incredibly dramatic and unlikely Game 6 win, and thus a Game 7.

Baseball players don't give a jimmy-jack about momentum, though. Jason Motte, who'd pitched a hitless ninth for the Cardinals, returned to the mound in the 10th. He got Ian Kinsler on a pop to first base, but Elvis Andrus singled.

Small problem. Not a big problem. After all, Josh Hamilton was next and he's a good player and everything but has a sore groin or something and hadn't hit a home run since September. Literally, since a previous month.

It's a funny game, though. Motte threw a low fastball, right where Hamilton likes his fastballs, and he took a mighty rip that sent the fastball 406 feet, well over the fence in right field.

And just like that, the Rangers had another two-run lead.

Motte and his beard got out of the inning, but the Cardinals needed yet another miracle.

And they got one.

With ancient left-hander Darren Oliver taking over on the mound, Daniel Descalso lined a single into right field. Jon Jay followed with a pop fly down the left-field line that dropped for a single that will forever look fantastic in the box score.

That brought up the pitcher's spot, and Tony La Russa was out of hitters. Which was fine, because he wanted someone to bunt anyway. Pitcher Edwin Jackson got that job, and he popped a bunt ... Well, you gotta see that for yourself:

Yes, the shortstop made the play on a sacrifice bunt. Tim McCarver said he'd never seen that before, and he's been watching the big boys play baseball for more than half a century.

Out came Oliver. In came right-hander Scott Feldman (and his beard), with right-handed hitters Ryan Theriot and (gulp) Albert Pujols coming up next.

Feldman got ahead in the count against Theriot, and got him out on a grounder to third base. Descalso scored, but that was irrelevant.

Feldman didn't get ahead of Pujols, because Ron Washington ordered the intentional walk. Even though Lance Berkman lurked on deck.

Feldman got ahead in the count against Berkman. Then he threw Berkman a low fastball and Berkman drove it into right-center field for a single. Jon Jay scored without a throw.

Cardinals 9, Rangers 9 (!)

That's how the inning ended. And on we play, heading to the 11th inning of a World Series game the likes of which has probably never been seen before tonight.


World Series Game 6: Josh Hamilton Makes Bid To Become Hero

All postseason, we've been talking about Josh Hamilton's trick groin. It could roll over. It could beg. It could even speak. But it couldn't allow him to get any power or torque behind his swing.

Until Game 6, that is.

With Elvis Andrus on first and one out, Hamilton sent a ball well into the right-center stands off Jason Motte. This game after the Rangers were one strike -- one measly strike away -- from winning their first championship in franchise history before David Freese hit an opposite-field triple to tie the game in a way that actually deserved the Suzyn Waldman treatment.

Hamilton is the hero for now, and he got one of these from Ian Kinsler:

And now Darren Oliver is in to close out the game. Reminds me of that old Branch Rickey quote: If you can't close a game out with a 20-something pitcher, you should double the dosage.


Game 6: The Miracle In St. Louis

Was that dramatic enough for you?

Neftali Feliz had pitched brilliantly in this postseason, giving up just one run in 10⅓ innings.

And, on to protect a 7-5 lead, Feliz began the ninth inning of Game 6 brilliantly, overpowering leadoff man Ryan Theriot with high heat.

But then, Albert Pujols. He hadn't hit safely since Game 3, but this time Pujols drove one of Feliz's fastballs into the gap in left-center for a double.

Then, Lance Berkman. And Feliz's control deserted him, as it has a few times this month; he walked Berkman on four pitches.

Allen Craig, in the game only because Matt Holliday hurt himself while getting picked off third base back in the sixth, put up a fight but finally struck out looking on a hanging slider that arced through the heart of the strike zone.

Two outs. One out away from the first championship in the 51-year history of the Texas Rangers franchise.

Two strikes. One strike away from the first championship in the 51-year history of the Texas Rangers franchise.

Except David Freese drove Feliz's next fastball on a line to right field and Nelson Cruz really didn't get a good read on the ball and it cleared his glove by maybe one country foot and Pujols and Berkman both scored with ease and the game was tied and the City of St. Louis had its Miracle.

Feliz did get his third out, so we're on to the 10th inning: Cardinals 7, Rangers 7.


Game 6: Rangers 3 Outs Away From First Championship

The bullpen phone worked just fine, Tony La Russa called upon Jason Motte to hold the Rangers down in the top of the ninth inning and Motte did just that. So heading into the last of the ninth inning, with the World Series on the line, the score is Rangers 7, Cardinals 5.

So, just in case you're not looking at a box score right now ...

Albert Pujols will bat in the bottom of the ninth, with his Cardinals desperately needing him to do something big.

Here are the next four hitters in the St. Louis lineup:

Ryan Theriot
Albert Pujols
Lance Berkman
Allen Craig

Berkman and Craig have both homered already tonight.

Pujols ... well, Pujols hit three home runs in Game 3. Otherwise he is utterly hitless in this World Series.

Yeah, right? He's hitless in 16 World Series at-bats, leaving out that sublime Game 3, described by some as the greatest individual performance in World Series history.

None of which means anything, really. It doesn't mean Pujols has choked; it doesn't mean Pujols is due for something impressive.

But someone's going to have to do something impressive, because Neftali Feliz is an excellent pitcher. And so far this month, he's pitched 10⅓ innings and given up three hits and one measly run.


World Series Game 6: Cards Get One Back, Rangers Just Three Outs Away

It's counting outs time for the St. Louis Cardinals. They entered the bottom of the eighth with six outs left to get three runs. Every out they made would be a self-inflicted body blow, each one more painful than the last. And they made three of those outs in the eighth.

But they did get a run back! Which is nice. Allen Craig, would-be postseason legend if things had played out a little differently, sent a Derek Holland pitch into the left-field seats:

Holland stayed in the game, though, even though the Rangers gave up all sorts of prospects to get one of the best eighth-inning men in the game, Mike Adams. The Cardinals made the second out of the inning when David Freese grounded out, but Yadier Molina singled to right to keep the inning alive.

With the World Series on the line and the pitcher's spot up, the Cardinals had two options: Daniel Descalso and Gerald Laird. Both of whom aren't especially exciting, even if you get your MacGyver brain going to see if you can make other things with them. Adams came in to face Descalso (after Laird was burned as the announced pinch-hitter), and he reached on an infield "hit" that was more of an Elvis Andrus brain fart:

Andrus threw to first, but Kinsler would have been close enough to take the throw at second. Descalso beat the throw out. Jon Jay came up and singled on the first pitch to load the bases. The St. Louis crowd was hopping. A single could tie it. A double could give them the lead.

Rafael Furcal grounded back to the pitcher on the first pitch. So it goes. The Cards have three outs left, but they're down by two runs now, 7-5.


Game 6: Derek Holland Locks Down Cardinals In 7th

It's starting to look pretty grim for the St. Louis Cardinals, and all because of a Texas Rangers starter who's become a lights-out relief pitcher.

Nope, not Alexi Ogando. He's yesterday's news.

Derek Holland. He pitched so brilliantly in Game 4, and -- thanks to the extra day off, which by the way was supposed to help the Cardinals more than the Rangers -- now Holland has come out of the bullpen to record four big outs.

After Ogando loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth, Holland came in and retired Jon Jay on a weak grounder to end the inning, with Holland himself doing the honors.

In the bottom of the seventh -- just moments after the Rangers put three runs on the board -- Holland took the mound again and retired the Cardinals in order, starting with Rafael Furcal and ending with Albert Pujols (with Skip Schumaker the creamy filling in the middle).

You never know what Ron Washington will do, but Holland has certainly done his job. The Rangers don't blow three-run leads, not with Mike Adams set up for the eighth and Neftali Feliz in the ninth.

It's Rangers 7, Cardinals 4 after seven innings, and we're now into Miracle Territory if you're Cardinals fan.


World Series Game 6: Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz Go Back-To-Back

The first six innings of this game ranked among the worst six consecutive innings of Major League baseball I've ever watched. Not in terms of excitement - they were very exciting - but in terms of quality. The pitchers were sloppy. The hitters were sloppy. The defenders and the baserunners were sloppy. The managers were sloppy. The first six innings of this game supplied an absolute treasure trove of writing material for the aftermath.

But now we're nine Cardinals outs away from forgetting about all of it.

The score was 4-4 going into the top of the seventh. First things first: Matt Holliday was no more. He was replaced by Allen Craig in left field, as Holliday injured his finger getting picked off in the bottom of the sixth.


An alternate explanation is that Tony La Russa finally figured out that Holliday was singlehandedly trying to sabotage all the Cardinals' grand plans. He has been so bad!

So Craig prepared himself in left field and immediately got to watch Adrian Beltre do this:

Lance Lynn threw Beltre a pretty good fastball, but Beltre's a pretty good and pretty strong hitter, and just that fast, the Rangers were back in the lead.

And they weren't done. Nelson Cruz's turn:

The pitch to Cruz was less good, and he gave Albert Pujols' mammoth home run from Game 3 a run for its money. 6-4 Rangers, with the first back-to-back homers in the World Series since 2008.

Still not done! An out later, David Murphy singled, and Derek Holland took his place on the basepaths after bunting into a force. In came Octavio Dotel in relief of Lynn and Dotel uncorked a wild pitch to move Holland to second. Ian Kinsler subsequently moved Holland to home and the dugout with a single up the middle.

It's 7-4 Rangers. The Cardinals might have nine outs left in their season. And the Rangers are staring their first-ever world championship right in the boobs. In this metaphor a world championship is a woman with enormous breasts.


World Series Game 6: Cardinals Tie Game On Hidden Secrets Of Moneyball

If you bought a couple of squares in your office World Series pool, and one of them was "Lance Berkman infield hit," you were probably bummed. Also, you're just making this whole thing up because there aren't office World Series pools. Well, there was an office World Series pool in 2001, but that's just where the Diamondbacks played. Now we're off track.

Point is that Berkman did lead off the bottom of the sixth inning with an infield hit, the first hit off Colby Lewis since the first inning. That brought Matt Holliday up, and hit hit a slow chopper to first. A reminder: Michael Young used to be a shortstop:

You could watch that video as is, or you could take the extra step and watch it the way nature intended.

With two on, and one out, Ron Washington went to the mound to see if his pitcher should stay in. Whatever Lewis said, it convinced Washington. It was also a big pack of lies, as a tired Lewis walked David Freese on five pitches to load the bases.

So Lewis gave way to Alexi Ogando, who walked in a run to tie the game.


Oof. It would have been interesting to see how the at-bat would have gone if the first pitch were called a strike, but the rest of them weren't even close enough to tempt Wily Mo Pena. That left the bases loaded for Nick Punto, but Matt Holliday was cut down by the golden right arm of noted defensive whiz Mike Napoli:

After Napoli let a wild pitch get by, Ogando walked Punto. After sporting a 2.3 BB/9 ratio in the regular season, Ogando has walked seven of the last 16 batters he faced. He walked seven batters in May. As a starter.

Derek Holland came in to retire Jon Jay for the final out of the inning, so the Rangers escaped with the tie. The Cardinals are probably a little disappointed that they couldn't take the lead, but then again, they didn't hit the ball out of the freaking infield.


Hershiser Makes A Good Point In The Radio Booth

After an eventful top of the fifth, the bottom of the fifth and the top of the sixth were quite routine with the mild exception of this play, Rafael Furcal throwing out Elvis Andrus by a step:

On the radio, Orel Hershiser said, "Of all the guys who played shortstop for the Cardinals this year, Rafael Furcal is the only one who makes that play."

For the record, here's who played shortstop for the Cardinals this season:

Ryan Theriot (87 starts)
Rafael Furcal (47)
Daniel Descalso (11)
Nick Punto (6)
Pete Kozma (1)
Tyler Greene (10)

So yeah, I'll buy that. Pete Kozma's supposed to be a pretty good shortstop, but I'll lay odds that Orel Hershiser has never heard of Pete Kozma.

On the McCarver Scale that measure analyst's observations, I'll give Hershiser an 8 out of 10.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are still ahead 4-3 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. And somehow Colby Lewis is still in there for Texas.


World Series Game 6: Rangers Score Go-Ahead Run Following Another Error

In the top of the fourth inning, Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas induced a leadoff pop-up from Nelson Cruz. Matt Holliday dropped the ball, and Cruz wound up scoring.

In the top of the fifth inning, Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas induced a leadoff pop-up from Josh Hamilton. David Freese dropped the ball, and Hamilton wound up scoring.


It didn't glance off the edge. It's as if Freese loaded his glove with tiny springs.

Anyway, Hamilton reached first base safely and scored when Michael Young followed the error with a double to the left-center gap. Hamilton didn't run like a guy playing through an injury, racing all the way around three bases.

The double made it 4-3 Texas. It could've and should've been worse. Adrian Beltre and Cruz made outs, but then Salas was ordered to intentionally walk Mike Napoli. That brought up pinch-hitter David Murphy - in for Craig Gentry - and Murphy drew a walk to load the bases.

Bases loaded, two outs, one-run game, World Series. Derek Holland had been throwing in the bullpen. Ron Washington allowed Colby Lewis to bat.

I literally don't know if I've ever seen a manager make a worse decision than that.


Col. Kurtz Is A Rangers Fan, Apparently

I watched a bunted ball crawl along the edge of a foul line. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a foul line ... and staying fair.

Cardinals On Board Again, Now 3-3 After 4 Innings

Colby Lewis outlasted Jaime García, but it's hardly been easy for the Texas starter.

Lance Berkman led off the fourth with a grounder that wanted to sneak into right field, but first baseman Michael Young ranged to his right to stop the ball. He couldn't field it cleanly, though, and recovered just in time to make an errant throw to Lewis covering first.

Lewis did get the ball in time, but as the infrared clearly shows -- oh, and Welcome Back, Infrared! -- Lewis never touched first base:


In the radio booth, Bobby Valentine commented, "As a defensive player, Michael Young is a very good offensive player."

Making matters worse, Lewis walked Matt Holliday on four pitches.

David Freese grounded into a fielder's choice, Berkman moving to third. And on a full count, Yadier Molina hit a grounder to third base, with Berkman scoring the tying run and Freese going to second. Lewis did strike out Nick Punto to end the inning.

Lewis hasn't thrown a great number of pitches, only 62 through four innings. But he's been in trouble throughout Game 6, and the Rangers' bullpen is loaded. Meanwhile, we're heading to the fifth and the score is Cardinals 3, Rangers 3 even though the Cardinals have only two hits in the game.


World Series Game 6: Mike Napoli Is Made Of Gummi Bears, Rangers Take 3-2 Lead

Jamie Garcia had a 3.56 ERA this year. He had a fantastic 3.12 K/BB ratio and a below-average home run rate. It's not like the Cardinals traded for Bruce Chen, made him pitch right-handed, and then nervously watched as he gave up a few runs. Garcia's been good this year. A couple of runs shouldn't be enough to pull him, right?

It's the October of Showering Before You Expect It though. Every team has a quick hook this postseason, with the Cardinals and Rangers getting to the World Series because they implemented quick hooks with precision. So after just three innings, Garcia gave way to Fernando Salas.

That didn't work out quite as well as hoped. Nelson Cruz reached on a collision between Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal:

Whoops. Wrong one. But that one's still funny. Hold on.


Yeah, that's the one. Cruz took second on the play, and scored on Mike Napoli's RBI single in the next at-bat to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

Then Colby Lewis came up to bunt, and we found out how his bunting could have been worse than last time. Last time, he didn't almost kill Mike Napoli:

The throw from Salas on the bunt went into center field, but Napoli rolled his ankle something fierce. He stayed in the game somehow, but the Rangers didn't score. Whew.


Game 6 Score: Still 2-2 After 3 Innings

As shaky as Jaime Garcia's been in Game 6, Colby Lewis has been little better.

In the first inning, he gave up a long home run to Lance Berkman and grooved a fastball to Albert Pujols that Pujols simply missed.

And in the third inning, Pujols drove a fat pitch to the warning track in left field.

Pujols barely misses HR - Game 6 (via sbnationvids)

The key for Colby Lewis tonight -- and whenever he pitches, really -- is keeping the ball in the yard. This season he gave up 35 home runs during the regular season, tops in the American League. And he's now given up four home runs in four postseason starts.

Prediction! If Colby Lewis doesn't give up another home run in this game, the Rangers will win.


World Series Game 6: Bunt Or Just Stand There?

With two outs, runners at first and third, and Colby Lewis up, Ron Washington ordered a bunt. The options were:

a. Have Lewis take every pitch until he walks or strikes out
b. Have Lewis bunt
c. Have Lewis swing away

Every National League-watching goof from Hawaii to Maine would pick "b." It's not that we're bunt fetishists ... it's just what we're conditioned to expect. If a pitcher comes up with fewer than two outs and a runner on, he's bunting.

The prevailing feeling on Twitter, though: bad move. Not sure if the masses would have preferred the swinging or the taking, but they weren't in love with the bunting. Here's what it looked like when Lewis made contact.


If David Freese had garlic bread with lunch, Lewis could confirm. With the wheel play on, Freese whipped the ball to Elvis Andrus at third, who threw out Colby Lewis at first for a double play.

Maybe I'm the silly one here, but my problems aren't with the idea to bunt, even with the corners crashing in like that. The problems with the bunt, in order of importance:

  1. The crappy bunt
  2. Telegraphing the bunt
  3. Mike Napoli running like a gigantic catcher
  4. Colby Lewis running like a gigantic pitcher

Swinging away with a pitcher used to hitting? That's probably the best idea in situation like that, where both corners are close enough to lick home plate. With Colby Lewis, though, the only right option was for him to bunt better.


World Series Game 6: Pitchers Settle Down

There was a run in the top of the first. There were two runs in the bottom of the first. There was a run in the top of the second. Would the Cardinals be able to keep up the developing pattern in the bottom of the second?

The answer is no, they would not. Colby Lewis threw nine pitches to three batters in the frame, and all three batters made outs. Easy outs, for that matter - there were two grounders and a whiff. I, for one, cannot believe that Nick Punto and Jaime Garcia were dispatched with such ease.

Off we went to the third inning with the score even at two, and Garcia, in turn, managed to keep the Rangers off the board. He didn't have a stress-free inning, mind you, as he allowed a one-out single up the middle to Michael Young, and then fell behind Adrian Beltre 3-1. But Beltre swung at a high-away fastball out of the zone and chopped a grounder to second, where Punto began a routine 4-6-3 double play.

Garcia's pitch count is up to 59 and the Cardinals' bullpen has been active, but we're sitting on a tie game in the bottom of the third.


2011 World Series Game 6: Jaime García Still Struggling, 2-2 In 2nd Inning

Jaime García doesn't figure to be long for Game 6.

He opened the contest by issuing a walk and consecutive singles, the second of which plated the contest's first run. García did recover nicely, striking out Michael Young and Adrian Beltre before getting Nelson Cruz on a fielder's choice to escape the inning.

His second inning got off to a rocky start, too. García walked Mike Napoli and gave up a line-drive single to Craig Gentry.

But then, Providence. Colby Lewis tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt. Lewis did get the bunt down, but a charging David Freese fielded it quickly, spun and threw to third base to force Napoli, and Rafael Furcal relayed to first base in time to get Lewis for a 5-6-3 double play.

García wasn't out of it yet, though. As he had so many times already, García left a fastball over the plate, this time to Ian Kinsler, who drove a one-hopper over the fence for an automatic double, good enough to score Gentry and tie the game.

It finally ended when García induced a nifty line drive that Lance Berkman was able to snare in right field for the third out. And heading into the bottom of the second inning, the score is Cardinals 2, Rangers 2.

Jaime García has thrown 49 pitches already. If he's still around in the fifth, it'll be an upset.


World Series Game 6: Lance Berkman Homer Puts Cards In Lead

The St. Louis Cardinals came into the bottom of the first of Game 6 already trailing 1-0. That was the bad news; the good news is that it could've been worse, as the Rangers had that lead and runners on the corners with nobody out in the top half. Jaime Garcia threw some bad pitches, and Jaime Garcia threw some good pitches.

So Rafael Furcal led off against Colby Lewis, looking to make something happen. One of the recent angles that's come up is that the top of the Cardinals' order has done very little in the way of getting on base in front of Albert Pujols. Furcal would work a 2-2 count and hit the ball hard, but he lined out to center.

However, Skip Schumaker followed with a single that was hit moderately hard, bringing Pujols to the plate as the potential early go-ahead run. Pujols got a pitch to hit, but flew out.

The inning wasn't over, though. Tony La Russa made a change for Game 6 and slotted Lance Berkman in at cleanup, as he did the last time his team faced the right-handed Lewis, and the first pitch Berkman saw was a fastball over the outer half. Berkman did what Berkman has done so many times before and blasted the pitch out to center field. With one swing, it was 2-1 St. Louis.

The inning ended there - Matt Holliday walked and wound up stranded - but after Josh Hamilton's RBI single in the top of the first, just about everything went the Cardinals' way.


World Series Game 6: Hamilton RBI Single Gives Rangers Early Lead

As I think I've pointed out six or seven times this postseason, Jaime Garcia is usually great the first time through the order. He has some serious differences between how he does in different stages of the game. In the first inning of Game 6, though, he walked Ian Kinsler on five pitches. Whether it was a case of Game 6 hitters or wonky mechanics, walking the lead-off hitter in the first inning is like showing up to a job interview with your underwear on the outside of your pants. Maybe you'll overcome it, but it's not a good sign.

Elvis Andrus singled next, and that was followed by an RBI single from Josh Hamilton that was more of the perfectly placed variety than a screaming line drive.

Andrus moved from first to third because that's what he does, and the Rangers had a run in, and runners at the corners with no one out. Bad.

But Garcia then struck Michael Young out on three pitches, with a sinker right down the middle for the final pitch. Then Adrian Beltre went down on strikes as well, leaving everything up to Nelson Cruz, who grounded sharply to third base. Had Young hit into a double play, Garcia would have been happy to get out of the inning down 2-0. As is, the sinkerballer became a strikeout maven at just the right time.

It's an early lead for the Rangers, but they're probably just a little disappointed with how the rest of the inning turned out.


2011 World Series: Game 6 Lineup Unveiled By St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa

It's the 2011 World Series, it's Game 6, and the St. Louis Cardinals' lineup has been posted, going up against Texas Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis. Straight from Tony La Russa's brain to your eyes:

1. Rafael Furcal (S) SS
2. Skip Schumaker (L) CF
3. Albert Pujols (R) 1B
4. Lance Berkman (S) RF
5. Matt Holliday (R) LF
6. David Freese (R) 3B
7. Yadier Molina (R) C
8. Nick Punto (S) 2B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P

Much has been made of Matt Holliday's struggles this month -- he's hit just one home run in 15 postseason games -- and thus his inability to adequately "protect" Albert Pujols. Which is why (so the argument will go) Holliday is making way for Lance Berkman in the cleanup spot.

Except this ignores that Holliday's been good this month, except for the big flies. And also that Berkman batted cleanup frequently during the regular season. Oh, and that they're both great hitters when healthy, and it really doesn't matter which of them bats fourth and which of them bats fifth. The down-side for La Russa is that he's now got three right-handed hitters plus Nick Punto in a row, which might make Ron Washington's life just a touch easier at some point.


Game 6: Ranger Lineup Stacked With Right-Handed Hitters

It's only Game 6, that's all. If Ron Washington's Game 6 lineup outscores Tony La Russa's Game 6 lineup, there's an excellent chance for the Texas Rangers to win their first World's Championship in the 51-year history of the franchise.

That's all.

Anyway, here is Washington's lineup, which will be opposed by Cardinals left-hander Jaime García:

1. Ian Kinsler (R) 2B
2. Elvis Andrus (R) SS
3. Josh Hamilton (L) LF
4. Michael Young (R) 1B
5. Adrián Beltré (R) 3B
6. Nelson Cruz (R) RF
7. Mike Napoli (R) C
8. Craig Gentry (R) CF
9. Colby Lewis (R) P

This lineup's little different than what Washington would use against a right-handed starter; the only difference is that Gentry plays against right-handers and David Murphy plays against left-handers. But it's worth mentioning that Jaime Garcia is not particularly vulnerable against a lineup like this; probably because he throws a lot of cutters and change-ups, his platoon splits are virtually identical.

Which doesn't mean you can't get to him. It just means that if you do, it's not because you stacked your lineup with right-handed hitters.


MLB Postpones World Series Game 6 Due To Rain Forecast

Rain is forecast for the St. Louis area for most of the day and evening on Wednesday, and so MLB has postponed the game:

Game 6 of #WorldSeries postponed due to inclement weather & forecast for rainfall throughout remainder of today

As expected, it will be played Thursday:

#WorldSeries Game 6 now Thurs 8:05pmET/7:05pmCT, potential Game 7 would be Fri same time, both on @MLBONFOX

It’s way too early to get any definitive answers, but as of now, I’d expect the two managers to stay with their previously scheduled starters for Game 6: Jaime Garcia for the Cardinals and Colby Lewis for the Rangers.

Over the last 30 years, World Series games postponed include Game 4 of the 2006 World Series, which was rained out — also in St. Louis. Before that, it had been ten years since a postponement, Game 1 of the 1996 World Series in New York. Other games postponed during that time are Game 3 in 1989 due to the earthquake in the Bay Area, Game 7 in 1986 and Game 6 in 1981.


Rain Threatens World Series Game 6; MLB To Decide Wednesday Afternoon

Rain is headed to the St. Louis area Wednesday afternoon and evening and according to the National Weather Service forecast, there is an 80% chance of rain throughout the day.

That has prompted a meeting between Cardinals officials and MLB, according to St. Louis writer Tim McKernan, via Twitter:

Mo: At 1 o’clock, I’m going to have a meeting with Major League Baseball and determine whether or not to cancel the game early.

To translate a bit from the 140-character limitations of Twitter, “Mo” is Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak and “1 o’clock” is Central time, so for those of you on Eastern time, it’ll be at 2 p.m. ET.

MLB is a bit stung by its decision to postpone Game 2 of the ALCS in Texas because of a threat of rain that never materialized. However, they also likely don’t want to get into a situation where they’d have multiple rain delays and have to suspend Game 6.

There doesn’t seem to be a “best” decision either way, but if Game 6 is postponed, everything simply moves back a day, with Game 6 on Thursday and Game 7 (if necessary) on Friday in St. Louis; the forecast for those days, at the link above, is clear, but chilly; game-time temperatures would likely be in the 40s.

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