ST. LOUIS -- Greetings as we are back under the shadow of the Gateway Arch at Busch Stadium on a spectacular night awaiting the start of Game Six of the World Series. The Rangers lead it, 3-2, and there are no weather problems tonight in the wake of yesterday's rainout.
It's a little on the chilly and breezy side here, but nothing too terrible. And it was sunny and 60 degrees this afternoon. Too bad we don't play 1 p.m. Series games anymore like the old days! At least there's no sign of that white stuff back home that is a four-letter word beginning with 'S' that I refuse to type on a baseball blog.
Great moment here pregame as a clearly frail Stan Musial, who turns 91 on Nov. 21, is driven in a golf cart from right field to join four other Cardinals legends -- Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith -- near home plate while 2006 Series MVP David Eckstein throws the ceremonial first pitch after greeting Brock and Musial (above). But wouldn't you know it? Eckstein got the loudest applause. By a lot. Crazy kids in the stands here.
Texas: Kinsler, 2b; Andrus, ss; Hamilton, lf; Young, 1b; Beltre, 3b; Cruz, rf; Napoli, c; Gentry, cf; Lewis, p
St. Louis: Furcal, ss; Schumaker, cf; Pujols, 1b; Berkman, rf; Holliday, lf; Freese, 3b; Molina, c; Punto, 2b; Garcia, p
Mid-1st: We're under way at 7:06 CT as Garcia throws a called strike to Kinsler. The breeze has definitely died down some and it's still 50 degrees at gametime. And we've already had a major moment in the game as the Rangers take a 1-0 lead but Garcia does a spectacular job minimizing damage. Kinsler walked, Andrus singled him first-to-third and Hamilton singled to right on the next pitch (only Garcia's 10th) to send Andrus first to third. But Garcia bounced back to fan Young and Beltre, the latter on a wicked 3-2 changeup, and got Cruz to bounce into a force at second to end the inning. He needed 23 pitches to get through the inning but the Rangers could have taken complete control right away and didn't. Rangers lead, 1-0.
End-1st: See why Garcia's work was so important? The Cardinals immediately go to work to get the lead. Schumaker singles with one out (remember what I posted today about getting on so the Rangers would pitch to Pujols?) but Albert pops to right on the first pitch. Slapped his hands at first base. Just missed it. Berkman didn't miss.
On the next pitch (right), an 89-mph fastball right down the St. Louis main drag of Market Street, Berkman uncoils a no-doubter the opposite way into the seats in left-center to put the Cardinals up, 2-1. The place explodes, just as I was going to write the noise level wasn't even close to Texas. Wrong. First runs Lewis has given up in the first inning in any of his eight career postseason starts. Cardinals lead, 2-1.
Mid-2nd: Garcia is doing his best Houdini here so far. Gave up the tying run but nearly pulled another great escape thanks to the Cardinals' best defensive play of the series. Napoli led off with a full-count walk and Gentry singled him to second. That brought up Lewis and Freese and Pujols were breathing down his neck as he sacrificed. A charging Freese fielded it, double-pumped and fired to Furcal covering third. With the wheel play on, Furcal fired across the diamond to Punto covering first for the easy double play. Like we say 5-6-4s every day.
Garcia was a strike away from escaping the inning but Kinsler worked the count full and then shot a ground-rule double over the wall in left to score Gentry and tie the game. Mitchell Boggs starts warming up in the bullpen so I guess the phone works here (couldn't resist). Andrus lines out to Holliday in right, who jumps to snare it. Garcia not long for this game with 49 pitches (29 strikes) in two innings. Game tied, 2-2.
End-3rd: We're still tied at 2-2 but the big news is that Fernando Salas is coming into the game for the Cardinals to start the fourth. Tony La Russa can't wait for Garcia to find it tonight, even though the third inning was his best (strikeouts of Hamilton, single by Young and Beltre 4-6-3 double play). Garcia threw 59 pitches, 35 strikes. Pujols ended the third with a long fly ball to left that dies when it looked like it had a chance. Outside of Game Three, Pujols is 0 for 14 in the series. Bizarre.
Mid-4th: Holliday gives the Rangers a Christmas gift and Texas takes advantage for a 3-2 lead. The Cardinals left fielder flubbed Cruz's routine leadoff fly ball -- looked like he yelled "you take it" to Furcal on the replay -- and Cruz got to second as Holliday let the ball tick off his glove and collided with Furcal (right). Napoli followed with an RBI single just inside the right-field line for his 10th RBI of the series. One out later, Lewis tried to sacrifice by Salas threw high to second base into CF. Napoli was in safe, but didn't slide and turned his left ankle in ugly fashion stumbling into the bag. Salas recovered, however, to get the final two outs. Let's see if the Cardinals try to bunt now on Napoli to see if he can move on that ankle. Rangers lead, 3-2.
End-4th: The Cardinals start runners, stay out of a double play and get the tying run. Berkman reached on a throwing error by Young, who corraled his grounder but threw just wide of the bag and Lewis missed covering (I'd score it E1). Holliday walked but then came through with a gargantuan takeout slide at second on a Freese grounder, nearly flipping Andrus to break up the DP. With men at the corners and a 3-2 pitch to Molina, La Russa starts Freese and Molina grounds sharply to Beltre at third. He had no play at second as Berkman scored. Punto struck out to end the inning and keep Salas in (Jay was going to pinch-hit with Lynn warming). Game tied, 3-3.
Mid-5th: We're halfway home as the Rangers take a 4-3 lead on another grievous Cardinals error. It was committed by Freese, who one-handed Hamilton's leadoff pop-up in and out of his glove (left) like you'd see on the Mel Ott diamonds in Amherst. Young followed with an RBI double to left-center. Salas intentionally walked Napoli and semi-intentionally walked pinch-hitter David Murphy to load the bases for Lewis, who struck out on three pitches. Texas should be winning this one in a walk: The Rangers have had 14 baserunners but have left eight, hit into two double plays and are just 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Yikes.
End-5th: Lewis with a 1-2-3 inning keeps his 4-3 lead. Also means Pujols leads off the sixth with nobody on. Attendance is a ballpark record 47,325. Lynn on to pitch the sixth for the Cardinals. Assume he'll throw more than four intentional balls. Just realized Lewis hasn't given up a hit since the Berkman homer in the first. Cards have an odd linescore right now of 3-2-3.
Mid-6th: Still 4-3 through 5 1/2. Got a couple inquiries on Twitter about the Lewis at-bat and whether they should have pinch hit. Torrealba was on deck but Rangers were playing possum. I don't think Washington was taking Lewis out. But a definite dilemma for an AL manager. He had Holland warming but I think Holland is reserve for Harrison if we have Game Seven.
End-6th: Where's the full moon? The Cardinals tie it at 4-4 on a bases-loaded walk to Molina from Ogando, who relieved Lewis. But with the bases loaded, Holliday is picked off third by Napoli thanks to a great block of the bag by Beltre. Walks to Molina and Punto re-load the bases and brings in Game Four hero Holland in relief. He gets Jay to bounce back to the mound. Jay is 0 for 16 in the series. Game tied, 4-4.
Mid-7th: And just as the Cardinals get back to even, the Rangers take control and can start counting the outs to their first title. Texas leads it, 7-4, as Beltre and Cruz burned Lance Lynn with back-to-back homers to open the inning and Kinsler got a two-out RBI single to score Holland, of all people, who had reached on a force trying to bunt and took second on a wild pitch. Another terrible Cardinals play in this one. The Cruz home run (right) was a monster, a 419-foot shot to the third deck. It was his eighth of the postseason, tying Barry Bonds' 2002 record. Puts a bit of a damper on God Bless America for Cardinals fans.
End-7th: Holland sets down the Cards in order. Pujols with a 6-3 to end it. He's 0 for 16 outside of Game Three. Utterly bizarre. Six outs to go for Rangers and not many people here clapping along to the Clydesdales ditty.
Bot-8th: Craig takes Holland deep to left to make it 7-5. The Cardinals load the bases on singles by Molina, Descalso and Jay -- who was 0 for 16. But on the first pitch, Furcal hits a little stub that reliever Mike Adams fields and flips to first. Disaster for the Cards. Furcal is 0 for 5 tonight and 3 for 25 in the series. Rangers lead, 7-5. And the Cardinals are out of position players!
Mid-9th: Still 7-5. Feliz coming in. Three outs to go for the Rangers.
END-9TH: Incredible. We're going extras. 7-7. Two-out, two-strike, two-run triple by Freese ties it up. How does Cruz not crash the wall going for that? Molina flies out to right for the third out, leaving the winning run at third. GAME TIED 7-7.
MID-10TH: Double incredible. Two-run homer for Hamilton. Texas up 9-7.
ON TO GAME SEVEN: Freese leads off the bottom of the 11th with a solo shot to center (left). Cards win 10-9. See you tomorrow night and eat your heart out, Carlton Fisk and '86 Mets. This was a classic.
Photos: Associated Press
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