US Presswire/Jeff Curry
Elvis Andrus and Ian Kinsler teamed up in a nifty fashion on multiple occasions in a Game 2 win.
The Texas Rangers sacrificed, in a manner of speaking, both offensively and defensively to steal Game 2 of the World Series from the St. Louis Cardinals.
Via the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rangers became the third team in World Series history to come back from a 1-0 deficit in the ninth inning or later to win, joining the 1911 Athletics and the 1985 Royals.
The Rangers were just 8-20 in one-run games on the road during the regular season (the second-worst record in the majors), but found a way to win this game, scoring their runs on back-to-back-sacrifice flies by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young.
Hamilton became the fourth player in World Series history to have the game-tying or go-ahead RBI in the ninth inning or later of a game in which his team trailed 1-0 at the time, joining Hall of Famers Home Run Baker (1911 Athletics) and Brooks Robinson (1969 Orioles), and Dane Iorg (1985 Royals).
Iorg is the one most familiar to Cardinals fans. His two-run walk-off single in the ninth inning gave the Royals a 2-1 win in Game 6 of the World Series, sending the series to a Game 7, which the Royals won 11-0.
That Game 6 loss is best remembered for the missed call by first-base umpire Don Denkinger, on the play that started the Royals' rally.
The other keys for the Rangers were stars with their gloves in the early innings and stars with their bats in the ninth inning -- Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.
Kinsler made a bare-handed play to catch a throw from shortstop Andrus as part of a fourth-inning double play.
According to the metrics provided by Baseball Info Solutions, Kinsler turned 68 percent of double-play opportunities in which he was either the pivot man or fielder. His six double play runs saved (a component of defensive runs saved) were the most in the majors.
Baseball Info Solutions also charts every play of every game. Entering Game 2, Kinsler led all postseason players with 12 “good fielding plays” (think plays that would be Web Gem nominees).
Andrus made a Web Gem to get an out in the fifth inning. He rated third among shortstops in the majors with 13 defensive runs saved.
In the ninth inning, each had hits, with Andrus going to second base after his single on a failed cutoff attempt by Albert Pujols (who entered the day ranked second to Kinsler in good fielding plays). Based on win probability data from the Elias Sports Bureau, that hit lowered the Cardinals' chances of winning from 67.6 percent to 44.5 percent.
Prior to the ninth-inning comeback, it looked like the story of the night would again be Cardinals pinch-hitter Allen Craig.
Craig became the first player in World Series history with two go-ahead pinch-hit RBIs. He was the third player with a go-ahead RBI in the sixth inning or later of consecutive World Series games, joining Duke Snider (1952 Dodgers) and Amos Otis (1980 Royals).
The Cardinals had a chance for a rally of their own in the ninth inning, but it was their inability to sacrifice that hurt them, when Nick Punto struck out after twice failing to bunt with a man on first.
Punto had six sacrifices in 166 regular-season plate appearances (the fourth-best rate of sacrifices per plate appearance for a position player in the majors), but on this day, he couldn’t make the necessary play to help the Cardinals to a victory.