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Friday, October 21, 2011
Unsung hero: Mike Adams' sigh of relief

By Jeff Caplan

ST. LOUIS -- Between Alexi Ogando's second consecutive blown opportunity and Neftali Feliz's sudden save job, there was Mike Adams' wild ride in the eighth.

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Acquired for just this pressurized, late-game situation, Adams made his club hold its breath before he could finally exhale. The Rangers fell behind, 1-0, in the seventh and Adams entered in the eighth needing to keep it a one-run game.

As a former National Leaguer, Adams was a perfect 8-for-8 in his career against St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols. But with one out, that nearly changed with one walloping crack of the bat. Pujols launched Adams' 94 mph fastball high into the heavy, chilly night air and deep to right-center. Nelson Cruz went back, back, back ...

"Right off the bat I didn't think he hit it as well as he did," Adams said. "I saw Nelson dropping back and I was like, 'Oh boy,' and luckily we saved about three feet right there. Sometimes, you need a little luck on your side."

Cruz made the grab at the wall and there were two down. But the Cardinals weren't out. Not yet.

Lance Berkman kept the inning alive with a sharp grounder into right field. Matt Holliday then worked a six-pitch walk and things were getting dicey. But aiding Adams' cause was the fact that Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa had pulled dangerous hitter David Freese for Daniel Descalso as a defensive substitution at third base.

It meant that instead of the NLCS MVP who is batting .422 in the postseason coming up a runner in scoring position, Adams would face the .143-hitting Descalso. Adams got him with a slider that bounced to Ian Kinsler for an easy out to end the inning.

"The main thing is you got to go out there and keep them from scoring a run right there," said Adams, who is tied for the team lead with Ogando with nine postseason appearances. "You keep it a one-run ballgame and give our boys a chance to take that lead. If we just give them opportunity, keep them in the game, they're going to come back and give us the runs we need."

Indeed they did.

It wasn't how he'd draw it up, but Adams will take his first career World Series win.