Blame game begins with Rangers
Ump's call at first was bad, but miscues -- and Albert Pujols -- responsible for mess
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Please, no whining about St. Louis native and first base umpire Ron Kulpa's butchered call in the fourth inning.
Not a single bleeping word.
Seriously, not one.
The Texas Rangers lost Game 3 of the World Series because of raggedy defense, abysmal pitching and Pujols.
If you choose to swap the order, fine.
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter. They're each culpable.
Once you've finished slicing and dicing those guys, then feel free to focus on Kulpa, who missed an obscenely easy call during the Cardinals' four-run third inning.
With Pujols on first and no outs, Matt Holliday hit a double-play bouncer to Andrus. The shortstop flipped the ball to Kinsler, whose poor throw then drew Napoli off first base. Napoli tagged Holliday on the shoulder as he approached the bag, but Kulpa somehow called him safe.
Napoli argued vehemently. So did Ron Washington to no avail, though Kulpa admitted after the game that he missed the call.
Jon Jay hit a bouncer to the right of the mound that Napoli fielded, but he rushed his throw home and it bounced past Yorvit Torrealba all the way to the backstop as Berkman and Freese scored, making it 4-0. Ryan Theriot's run-scoring single made it 5-0.
"The game wasn't based on that call," Kinsler said. "The game isn't played in slow motion. He had to look at the base, he had to watch the runner coming down the line and he had to look for the tag.
"That play didn't cost us. We didn't play very well."
No matter who you choose to blame, your Rangers have a huge problem.
Now, the Rangers need Derek Holland to save the season. Does that give you comfort?
Holland has struggled throughout the postseason and hasn't lasted more than five innings in any of his three starts.
You must also deal with the reality that St. Louis is playing better. The Cardinals have scored first in each of the three games, and if not for a dramatic ninth-inning comeback, the Rangers would trail the series 3-0.
The Rangers have led in one of 27 innings, and perhaps the most troubling aspect of the series is that the Cardinals outbashed them in their own park.
Didn't see that coming, did you? Me either.
But the Cardinals ripped the Rangers' pitching staff for 11 runs and nine hits during the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.
Twice, they batted around.
In the process, they ripped the cloak of invincibility off star reliever Ogando, scoring four runs off him in one-third of an inning after the Rangers had pulled within two runs.
Batters are 5-for-9 (.556) off Ogando in the World Series after going 4-for-37 (.108) against him in the first two rounds of the postseason.
Don't be fooled by the final score. Even in a blowout, the Cardinals made big plays.
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Understand, it would be foolish to count out the resilient Rangers.
They haven't lost consecutive games since Aug. 23-25 against the Boston Red Sox, a span of 43 games. They scored a league-leading 7.64 runs per game during Holland's regular-season starts.
Plus, this is a club that doesn't get too emotional whether it wins or loses by nine runs.
Still, the Rangers find themselves in the exact situation they were in last year heading into Game 4 of the World Series.
They must win. Or there's no guarantee the Rangers will return to St. Louis.
Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.
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