Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Napoli brings Rangers to brink of first title
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Mike Napoli drove in two runs on an eighth inning double as the Rangers moved within one win of its first World Series title.
On a night when every at-bat had a chance to swing the series, Mike Napoli stole the show with his two-run double in the eighth inning.
Napoli became the second player to drive in multiple runs in four different games during the same World Series. The other was Mickey Mantle, who drove in 11 runs for the Yankees in 1960. Unfortunately for Mantle, the New York Yankees lost the series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games.
Napoli has driven in nearly half the runs that the Texas Rangers have scored so far in the Fall Classic. He has driven in nine of the team’s 19 runs. The rest of the team has recorded 10 RBI. With nine RBI in five games, he has matched the number of runs he drove in during the first 24 games of his postseason career.
Before Napoli’s hit, the World Series had been lacking late-inning drama late in the series during the past decade. The last go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later in Game 5 or later of the Fall Classic was Troy Glaus’s two-run double in the eighth inning of Game 6 in 2002.
The St. Louis Cardinals had their chances early in the game, but left 12 runners on base. That number would have been higher, but Allen Craig became the first player since Billy Martin in 1955 to get caught stealing twice in the same World Series game.
The Rangers didn’t give Albert Pujols a chance to beat them in Game 5. He drew three intentional walks, becoming the third player with that many in a World Series game. The others were Rudy York in 1946 and Barry Bonds in 2002. In the seventh inning, he became the first player in World Series history to draw an intentional walk with the bases empty.
The other offensive hero for the Rangers was Mitch Moreland. Moreland notched the first run for the home team with a solo home run in the third. He is the fourth player to hit two career World Series home runs from the nine-hole in the batting order. His ball was measured at 446 feet, the longest home run this postseason and the longest in a World Series game since Home Run Tracker began in 2006.
In a rematch of the Game 1 pitchers, the Rangers win snaps a streak of nine straight World Series rematches that were won by the same team that won the first game. The last time a rematch of starting pitchers resulted in different results was the 1996 World Series.
The Rangers are in the driver’s seat heading back to St. Louis. When a best-of-seven World Series has been tied 2-2, the Game 5 winner has won the series 26 of 39 times. However, the Cardinals have had success when trailing 3-2 in the Fall Classic. They’ve come back to win the series four times in five attempts when facing two must-win games.