After the Rangers defeated the Cardinals in Game Four of the 2011 World Series, we knew there would be no clinching game in Texas, so Game 5 would be the season finale at Rangers Ballpark. And for the third consecutive night the weather was spectacular, which for guys like me who live in the midwest, was a treat in itself.
Game Five found me positioned in the third base outside photo well next to the dugout. Working for Major League Baseball has its perks, and one of those was working things out with the MLB International broadcast cameraman to allow me to shoot next to him, giving me an unobstructed view inside the Cardinals dugout.
The Cardinals got things going in a hurry scoring two runs in the top of the second inning to take a 2-0 lead, taking the partisan home crowd out of the game early on. That feeling didn’t last long for Rangers fans as Mitch Moreland sent a Chris Carpenter pitch out of the yard to get the Rangers on the board with their first run and hit of the night in the bottom of the third.
Carpenter regained his groove while C.J. Wilson kept the Cardinals in check as well through five innings. Carpenter seemed to have things under control until Adrian Beltre did his best “Mr. October” impersonation, connecting for a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth to knot things up at 2.
In the eighth with the score still 2-2 Chris Carpenter was removed which signaled the beginning of the end for the Cards. Marc Rzepczynski replaced Carpenter and after David Murphy reached base on a possible double play ball, the hero of the Series for the Rangers so far, Mike Napoli, drove in a pair of runs with a ringing double to right center to give the Rangers a 4-2 lead.
The inning continued, culminating in a series of questionable pitching changes. Lance Lynn was called upon to intentionally walk Ian Kinsler, only to be replaced by Jason Motte after the intentional pass. Later, Tony LaRussa explained that the communication between the dugout and the bullpen was lost in translation and that Motte was his intended choice to pitch to Napoli, but he wasn’t ready because the bullpen didn’t understand LaRussa’s message. Rzepczynski was forced to stay in the game to pitch to Napoli, Napoli hit the double and then Lynn came in to give Motte time to warm up. It turned out to be a rather bizarre and costly inning for the Cardinals.
The Cardinals continued to add controversy when not once but twice Allen Craig was caught stealing with Albert Pujols at the plate. When questioned, know one was quite sure if Albert himself called for a hit an run himself or if Craig missed a sign. All we know for sure is that twice the potential go ahead run or tying run was taken off the table when Craig was gunned down by who else, Mike Napoli.
It was a night that Tony LaRussa and the rest of the Cardinals most certainly would like to forget and pretend like it never happened. But it did, and now the Texas Rangers are one win away from winning their first World Series title.
The prospect of a rainy evening in St. Louis Wednesday night had MLB officials calling the game early in the afternoon, hoping to avoid potential “start-stop” weather delays that could adversely effect both pitching staffs, especially considering that the game could be a possible World Series clincher. Even though the Series is finishing up in St. Louis, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Rangers will end it all Thursday night. The prospect of Carpenter now becoming available for a possible Game Seven makes Game Six even bigger for the Rangers. They look to have the mojo working, where the Cardinals seem to be out thinking themselves. What do you think?