Friday, October 28, 2011

World Series: Cardinals Win Wild Game Six over Rangers, Force Game Seven

Players of the Day for Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cardinals 10 Rangers 9, 11 innings

As Game Six's go, this one was excitement to the extreme.

15 pitchers. Eight pinch-hitters. Five home runs. Five errors. Scoring in 13 of 22 half-innings. And every time the Texas Rangers forged a lead that might take them to victory and a World Series championship, the plucky St. Louis Cardinals found ways to tie the score and eventually, in the second extra inning, to win it, staving off elimination to force the first game seven since 2002, when the Angels beat the Giants.

Berkman tied the
game in the 9th.
This game six had it all. Both starters - Jaime Garcia for St. Louis and Colby Lewis for the Rangers - were dinged for first-inning runs. Texas struck first for a single run in the top of the first, but Lance Berkman's two-run homer in the bottom of the inning gave the Cardinals their only lead of the night until 10 innings later when David Freese led off the bottom of the 11th, taking a two-strike pitch from Mark Lowe to straight-away center field for a game-winning walk off home run that sent the St. Louis faithful into a fall classic frenzy.
Freese's solo homer
won it in the 11th.

Freese, who had delivered a two-out, two-strike triple in the bottom of the ninth to send Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman home with the game-tying runs, was mobbed by teammates at the plate and had his jersey ripped off and shredded by his ebullient teammates.

The game had so much drama, passion and tension, it might as well have been written by a Faulkner, Steinbeck or maybe even Hemingway. The Rangers tied the score at 2-2 in the second and took a 3-2 lead in the top of the 4th. St; Louis tied the score in the bottom of the inning.

The Rangers scored again in the top of the 5th, 4-3. St. Louis evened it at 4-all in the bottom of the 6th. That's when it really got interesting.

Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz hit back-to-back solo homers in the seventh. Kinsler drove in Derek Holland for the third run of the frame and Texas had what looked to be an insurmountable lead at 7-4. The Cardinals had only three more half-innings to make up the deficit.

In the bottom of the seventh they went quietly, but got one run back on Allen Craig's one-out, solo home run in the 8th, but left the bases loaded when Rafael Furcal grounded out to second, leaving the Cardinals still down two runs.

After Albert Pujols doubled with one out in the ninth and Berkman walked, Freese belted a line shot off the right field wall that eluded right fielder Nelson Cruz, allowing the two to score. With Freese standing less than 60 feet away from a Cardinal win, Yadier Molina lined out to Cruz in right.

In the 10th, Josh Hamilton put the Rangers up 9-7, with a one-out, two-run homer to right field, again putting the Rangers just three outs away from their first World Series title in the 50-year history of the franchise.

The Cardinals, however, weren't ready to make off-season arrangements. David Descalso led off the bottom of the 10th with a scratch single to right. Jon Jay, hitless in the series, nubbed a single to left and when Kyle Loshe, pinch-hitting for reliever Jason Motte, bunted the base runners over to second and third, the Cards were once again in business. Ryan Theriot hit a smash to Beltre at third, whose only play was across the diamond, getting Theriot, but allowing Descalso to score. After an intentional walk to Pujols put runners at first and second with two outs, Berkman, who leads all hitters in the series with a .435 batting average, singled to shallow center, bringing home Jay and tying the score at 9-apiece.

All of a sudden, the Rangers had gone from one strike away from winning the World Series to having Pujols on third, Berkman on second - after he moved up on fielder indifference - and the dangerous Allen Craig at the plate. Craig, however, failed to deliver, as the cardiac Cardinals had all night, grounding to first to end the inning, but setting up Freese's 11th-inning drama.

Freese's two hits in five at-bats boosted his series average to .333. He drove in three of the game's most important runs, including the clincher. Berkman, who has been unstoppable at the plate, was 3-for-5, with three RBI and four runs.

The two teams will regroup overnight and head back to Busch Stadium for game seven on Friday night at 8:05 pm EDT. While Texas will go with game three starter Matt Harrison, St. Louis has options. Kyle Lohse would normally get the nod, but manager Tony LaRussa has a fresh Edwin Jackson and his ace, Chris Carpenter, who, because of a travel day Tuesday and the Wednesday rainout, is available off three days' rest.

Friday night, game seven. It doesn't get much better than that, but, as a prelude, game six wasn't bad.

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