World Series live blog: Game Six

Hardball Times copy editor Greg Simons is not one of those people the TV moguls feared would will be put off by a Middle America World Series. He’s a lifelong Cardinals fan. As with all the previous World Series games, we asked him to put on his red cap and share his observations as he watches.

Pregame
Who has the most pressure tonight? Is it the Rangers, who hope to avoid a Game Seven on the road? Is it the Cardinals, with their backs against the wall and their hometown fans aching for victory? Is it Tony La Russa, who utterly collapsed mentally in Game Five? Maybe it’s Albert Pujols, who has had one stellar game and no other hits, and who has free agency looming.

Truthfully, there’s plenty of pressure on everyone, and plenty of fun ahead for all of us.

Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and (my all-time favorite) Ozzie Smith—that’s some nice inspiration for the team and the fans. What a collection of talent.

Mike Napoli certainly deserves that feature, because he’s been awesome.

First inning
Leadoff walk by Ian Kinsler to get things going, as Jaime Garcia is shaky at the start.

Elvis Andrus keeps it going with a gapper to left-center than advances Kinsler to third.

And Josh Hamilton gets the game’s initial run in with a first-pitch shot to right.

Fortunately for St. Louis, back-to-back punchouts and a grounder to third clean the slate with minimal damage done.

I think every commenter has mentioned the woeful performance by the top two spots in the lineup for St. Louis and how they need to step up. And every commenter is correct.

Well, halfway there with Skip Schumaker‘s one-out single.

Pujols remains 0-for-everything-but-Game-Three.

But Lance Berkman does not, putting St. Louis in front with his first-pitch blast to left-center.

Ooh, Matt Holliday gets a free pass on a borderline pitch, though David Freese‘s whiff ends the inning.

Second inning
Gee, Garcia doesn’t want to mess with Mike Napoli, instead choosing to walk him. I wonder why?

Craig Gentry makes it first and second with no outs by singling to left. Walks will haunt!

And the lousy bunt by Colby Lewis leads to a twin killing!

Kinsler almost cranks a two-run bomb of his own, settling for a game-tying ground-rule double.

Berkman shows off his leaping ability to haul that one in.

Aside from Nick Punto flinging his bat into the stand, nothin’ doin’ for the Cards in the second.

Third inning
Freese nearly spins around the railing trying to track down that foul pop-up.

A double play—the pitcher’s best friend.

Consecutive shots die at the front of the warning track, and the Redbirds are retired.

Fourth inning
Good communication, guys. That was Holliday’s call all the way. I remember his miss against the Dodgers in the Division Series a couple years ago, when the ball hit him in the, ummm, breadbasket. And Joe Buck just mentioned the same thing. He’ll only ever get a Gold Glove if he buys one.

Na-po-li and M-V-P could be synonymous if he keeps this up, and his base hit puts Texas back in front, 3-2.

St. Louis reliever Fernando Salas, in to start the fourth, air mails a throw to second for a potential force out into center field, whle Napoli turns his ankle over violently. How he’s still walking is beyond me. That looked like it could have been very serious, but fortunately, Napoli seems to be okay.

Salas punches out Kinsler (figuratively) and gets a fly out from Andrus.

E-1s helped the Cards win the 2006 World Series against Detroit, and there’s one by Lewis. Actually, it apparently was ruled Michael Young‘s miscue. Hey, the thermal camera is back! We’ve missed you, old friend.

Another goof by Texas, this time with some assistance from former footballer Holliday, who helps force Andrus’ double-play throw far from Young at first. Runners on the corners, one out.

Lewis is doing the jitterbug on the mound, faking throws and accomplishing little. Yadier Molina comes throw with a dink to third that brings in the tying run.

Fifth inning
More defensive problems, as Freese muffs Hamilton’s painfully easy pop-up. Fundamentals, boys!

Well, that was a clear hit, as Young strokes one to the wall in left-center to score Hamilton. Sure, walks will haunt, but errors will kill you.

Some redemption for Freese, as he handles an odd bounce to get Adrian Beltre, but Nelson Cruz gets Young 90 feet from home with a fly out to center.

Hey, let’s intentionally walk Napoli. That actually seems reasonable under the circumstances. Walking Gentry to load the bases? A bit scary, though Lewis whiffs to keep the Ranger margin at 4-3.

A 1-2-3 inning for St. Louis. Yawn.

Sixth inning
Followed by a 1-2-single-3 inning for Texas. C’mon, we want drama!

I don’t think Pujols liked that punchout pitch. The replay showed it sure seemed a lot like the previous pitch, which was a ball.

Berkman may be getting old, but he still gives it his all, hustling down the line to beat out an infield single to Beltre.

Another error! Tim McCarver says the ball wasn’t hit hard enough for Young to throw to second—right as the replay showed Berkman still pretty darn close to first base as Young caught the ball. Well said, Timmy.

The sacks are packed, ducks are on the pond as Freese walks.

Alexi Ogando once again struggles upon entering the game, walking Molina on five pitches to force in the tying run.

Napoli takes a page from Molina’s book, but while Yady tends to shock runners leaning too far off first base, Napoli flings one down to third base to nab Holliday. Is Beltre’s blocking of third technically obstructing the runner? I don’t mean the question as sour grapes; I honestly don’t know.

Okay, Napoli isn’t infallible. Even though that was called a wild pitch, with the way he’s been playing, I’d expect Napoli to catch it and maybe even frame it such that it’s called a strike.

Derek Holland is in? That’s a bit surprising, but Ron Washington is playing to win tonight and not worrying about who can pitch tomorrow. Hard to argue with the strategy, especially if it works.

Seventh inning
Beltre the Blocker becomes Beltre the Bomber with a rope over the fence in right-center.

And Cruz squeaks one inside the left field foul pole and DEEP to make it a two-run Texas edge.

Maybe this is the game Lance Lynn wasn’t supposed to pitch, because he hasn’t really been doing that.

Holliday’s bruised finger most likely ends his season. At least if there’s a Game Seven, the Cards should be able to replace him on the roster. Somebody tell Adron Chambers he might be activated for the World Series after all.

Octavio Dotel threw that wild pitch just so Holland would wear himself out on the basepaths.

Well, I doubt he intended for Holland to be in scoring position for Kinsler’s single. Nice job, Dotel.

And nice job of replaying La Russa’s language that typically would be bleeped out in a televised movie. Classy as always, Fox, just like with Chris Carpenter in Game Five.

The Cardinals have absolutely no answer in the bottom of the frame, as they’re unable to get the ball out of the infield.

Eighth inning
Nothing from the Rangers, who also keep the ball from the outfielders, but they’re still up by three.

Allen Craig isn’t doing quite as well as Freese, but he’s also making a name for himself this series, this time with a homer. He’s had a knack for getting RBI in his first (and sometimes only) at-bat of multiple games.

That was a quick appearance for Gerald Laird, whose pinch-hitting appearance was taken over by Daniel Descalso.

Andrus eschewed the easy out at second and threw lackadaisically to first, too late to get Descalso.

Jay singles to load the bases, though a faster runner than Molina (which is most anyone) probably would have scored to cut the lead to one.

Furcal continues his disappointing playoffs with a nubber back to Mike Adams.

Ninth inning
Another quiet inning from The Rangers though they’re three outs away from ending the 2011 baseball season.

Pujols with the double to keep things alive.

And the walk to Berkman makes me think of this.

Craig takes a called third strike right down Broad Street.

Freese is down to his final strike…Holy cow! A triple to right just beyond Cruz’s reach ties the game! Freese is becoming a star on the national stage.

Molina flies out, so the Cards can’t get the winning run in, but they stay alive, and we have free baseball.

Tenth inning
Kinsler pops up, but Andrus zings one right up the middle for a one-out single.

Hamilton picks the ideal time to end his postseason home run drought, drilling a first-pitch, go-ahead, two-run shot to right center. I guess his groin is feeling a little better.

Two quick outs follow, but the Texas lead again swells to two.

Back-to-back singles by Descalso and Jay. We have tension!

Despite himself, Kyle Lohse gets the job done. His bunt very fortunately goes over Beltre’s head, so instead of a pop-up double play, Andrus corrals the ball and retires Lohse at first, with the runners moving up. McCarver seems to think the play is as heady as Derek Jeter‘s sprint across the infield and backhand flip to nail Jeremy Giambi. It was good, but not that good.

They mention Ryan Theriot‘s last home run? I doubt anyone in the stadium is counting on a home run from him. Instead, he gets a run in but in the process surrenders the second out.

A shocking intentional walk to Pujols. C’mon Berkman, stay hot!

AND HE DOES!!! My wife thinks I’m nuts, but I’m jumping around like a jackrabbit.

We are tied again.

“The Battle of the Beards.” I like it, and, yes, the graybeard won it.

Craig grounds out, and it’s on to the 11th.

Eleventh inning
Jake Westbrook is supposed to be a groundball pitcher, but he’s given up three fly balls thus far. Fortunately, two of them have fallen into outfielders’ gloves.

Ah, there’s a groundball, ending the top of the 11th.

I hate rooting for the road team in games like this, because if you don’t score, the other team is a swing away from ending the game. Fortunately, I’m rooting for the home team tonight.

David Freese, you’re my hero!!! His homer to straightaway center ends the game! I love how he tossed his helmet between his legs, and then his teammates ripped his shirt right off his back.

Postgame
St. Louis was down two runs and one strike away from defeat—twice!—but instead of the season ending, for the first time since 2002, we have a Game Seven.

In that World Series, the Anaheim Angels also rallied late in Game Six to force the final showdown. They also won the final contest to clinch their only world title.

I’ll be back tomorrow to see if the Cards can copy the Angels’ success in rallying, or if the Rangers copy their success in winning a first championship. I can’t wait!

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Comments

  1. Lyle said...

    What can I say? Game six was the greatest game I’ve ever saw as a baseball fan. It doesn’t get any better then that! Check out my new blog about the Cardinals if you get a chance.

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