David Murphy keys huge third inning
October, 16, 2011
By Richard Durrett | ESPNDallas.com
ARLINGTON, Texas -- David Murphy walked to the plate with the Rangers leading 3-2 and the bases loaded in the third.
He was thinking of one thing: Get that runner from third home.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland brought in left-handed reliever Daniel Schlereth to pitch to Murphy, who hit just .215 against lefties all season. Murphy took two curve balls outside of the zone and fouled off a sinker. So he had the count where he wanted at 2-1 when he got a sinker he could push up the middle.
Matt Emmons/US PresswireDavid Murphy struggled against lefties this season but came through in Game 6, punching a single up the middle to drive in two runs to extend the Rangers' lead to 5-2 in the third inning -- an inning the Rangers would score nine runs.
"The bases were loaded and there's less than two outs there," Murphy said. "I didn't really have to do a whole lot to be successful. I just punched the ball through the infield, scored a few runs and kept the inning going."
The hit scored Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to turn a 3-2 game into a 5-2 game. It was Murphy's first RBI off a left-handed pitcher since Sept. 7, and prior to the hit he had just one hit in his last 11 at-bats against lefties.
Washington could have tried to put a right-handed hitter (Craig Gentry) in the game for Murphy against the lefty, but decided to stick with him.
"I never at any point thought about pinch-hitting for David Murphy," Washington said. "In crucial situations David has been crucial for us in Texas. So he came through right there."
Kudos to third base coach Dave Anderson, who sent Napoli home after Delmon Young bobbled the ball in left field.
BTW, here's a brief recap of the inning from tonight's Rapid Reaction:
-- The nine runs are the most in a postseason inning since the Angels scored 10 runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2002 ALCS. It was the most runs the Rangers have scored in a postseason inning, breaking the record of six scored in the ninth of Game 3 of the 2010 ALCS.
-- Four Tigers pitchers needed 50 pitches and nearly 40 minutes to get through it.
-- Surprisingly, the inning started with Ian Kinsler's ground out to third base, where Brandon Inge made a nice diving play to get the first out.
-- Things fell apart for the Tigers from there as the Rangers' lineup depth went to work. Elvis Andrus drew a four-pitch walk and Josh Hamilton's looping single put two on with one out for Michael Young.
-- Young delivered with a double just inside the left field line, scoring two runs. Before that at-bat, Young had two RBIs the entire series (and three in the postseason). That tied the score.
-- Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers the lead with a single up the middle, scoring Young. It was his sixth RBI of the playoffs.
-- Napoli did his usual, working the count to 3-2. He then walked ahead of Nelson Cruz.
-- Cruz appeared to swing at a high fastball for a third strike, but first base umpire Tim Welke said Cruz did not go around. Cruz then walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Murphy.
"I do and still will always question the check swing on Cruz," Leyland said after the game. "I thought that was definitely a strike. I thought he definitely swung."
Leyland was quick to point out that the lopsided score didn't come down to any right or wrong calls.
-- Kinsler got into the act with a two-run single after that as the Rangers batted around.
-- Young came up again and this time doubled just inside the right field line to drive in two more. He became the first player with multiple extra-base hits in the same inning in LCS history. It's been done three times in the World Series. Young hit .377 with runners in scoring position this season.