Sunday, October 23, 2011
Defensive difference: Matt Holliday's arm
By Jeff Caplan
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Back in the fourth inning when the bats began to explode and the game was still in doubt, St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday threw a perfect rope to catcher Yadier Molina to nail Mike Napoli, who was tagging on Ian Kinsler's fly out down the left-field line.
The inning-ending double play ended a wild inning in which the Cardinals scored four times in the top half and then limited the Texas Rangers to three runs in the bottom half. It proved the closest the Rangers would get in the 16-7 Game 3 loss that put the Cards up 2-1.
The set-up: After falling behind 5-0 in the top of the fourth, Texas bounced back and cut St. Louis' lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the inning and was looking for more with Napoli on third, Yorvit Torrealba on first and 30-30-man Kinsler coming up with one out. On Torrealba's line single to right field, Napoli rounded third and got the stop sign -- and it appeared wisely -- from third-base coach Dave Anderson.
"I'm on second base, I'm not the fastest guy in the world," Napoli said. "Trying to keep a rally going and thought that was the right player. Kinsler was coming up. The guy can drive the ball out of the park."
Only Kinsler popped it up down the left-field line. Holliday caught it just inside fair territory and his rocket throw took one hop to the right of home plate. Molina snagged it and made a sweeping tag just ahead of the sliding Napoli.
It was easily the biggest defensive play in an offensive game.
"That's the play. Kins hit a fly ball fairly deep and I'm not fast enough to score. He made a perfect throw," Napoli said. "You try to put pressure on a defense and try to make bad throws and he made a perfect throw."