Thursday, October 20, 2011
Rapid Reaction: Rangers 2, Cardinals 1
By Richard Durrett
ST. LOUIS -- The Rangers made a memorable ninth-inning comeback Thursday, tying this World Series at one game apiece. Texas scored two runs in the top of the ninth to take the lead and then held on in the bottom half. The Rangers manufactured the two runs to get the victory in dramatic fashion. Some quick thoughts:
Kinsler with gutsy steal: Ian Kinsler led off the ninth with a bloop single off closer Jason Motte and then stole second base with Elvis Andrus looking to bunt him over. Kinsler was safe on a close play, putting him in scoring position with no outs. Andrus singled on a two-strike count, and when the Cardinals' throw wasn't cut off, Andrus took second. That was big in that he was able to eventually score from third later in the inning.
Hamilton, Young come through: Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, two Rangers struggling to get something going this postseason, did what the game asked them to do with sacrifice flies off Arthur Rhodes and Lance Lynn, respectively.
Phenomenal pitching: So much for the "offensive" World Series. At least through two games. Both starting pitchers were excellent in Game 2. Colby Lewis had the second quality start for the Rangers this postseason -- and he has both of them. He gave up one run (surrendered by Alexi Ogando in the seventh) on four hits in 6 2/3 innings. Jaime Garcia was great as well, allowing no runs on three hits in seven innings with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Craig clutch: For the second straight night, Allen Craig came up as a pinch hitter and delivered against Ogando. Craig hit another Ogando fastball (96 mph) to right field with two outs to put the Cardinals ahead by a run. He hit an Ogando fastball to right in Game 1 to score the go-ahead run. Craig will get to hit a little more in Arlington, as he'll be in the lineup with the designated hitter in play.
Broken bats: Cardinals starter Garcia got through the first two innings in 24 pitches, retiring all six Rangers he faced. Three of them broke bats in the process, including Hamilton, who sent two parts of his bat flying to the infield on a ground ball to third.
Kinsler brushes it off: Kinsler was getting his lead in foul ground at third when Adrian Beltre bounced one off Kinsler's shoulder. Since he was in foul ground, he was not out. Kinsler got up and brushed his shoulder off.
Full count not kind to Beltre: Rangers third baseman Beltre came up with runners on the corners and two outs in a scoreless game in the fourth. Beltre got ahead in the count 3-1, with Nelson Cruz on deck. But he took a swing at a pitch that was low and then struck out on a low fastball. Beltre hit .182 (6-for-33 with six strikeouts) on full counts this season.
DP beauty: After Kinsler was charged with an error on Lance Berkman's ground ball, the second baseman was part of a pretty double play to end that fourth inning. Matt Holliday's bouncer up the middle was backhanded by Andrus, who flipped it to Kinsler, who then barehanded it and tossed it to first.
Elvis' glove in the building: The Rangers shortstop made another terrific play to end the fifth. With two runners on and two outs (thanks to Lewis walking the pitcher after allowing a two-out hit to Nick Punto), Andrus dove to his right and into the outfield grass to get to Rafael Furcal's hard grounder. Andrus flipped the ball with his glove to second, and Kinsler caught it with his foot on the bag just in time. It was a tremendous play.
Elvis' bat all of a sudden in the building: Andrus hadn't done anything all series and postseason but delivered a big two-strike hit in the ninth that ended up putting runners on second and third with no outs. Before that, he struggled. The fourth inning might have played out differently had Andrus been able to get a bunt down to move Kinsler, who had a leadoff walk, over. He fouled one off and then flied out to right. He came up with a runner on and one out in the sixth, and grounded into a double play on the first pitch. Andrus had been hitless in the World Series and came in hitting just .190 in the postseason.
Cruz catches on at the wall: With the Cardinals up 1-0 in the eighth, Albert Pujols hit a long fly ball to right field that looked like it might go into the Cardinals' bullpen. But Cruz went all the way to the wall and grabbed it.
Feliz saves it: Neftali Feliz got his first save of this World Series, coming in after the Rangers took the lead in the ninth.