One Strike Away…

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, October 28th, 2011

Thursday night, the Rangers had every opportunity to win the team’s first World Series in the franchise’s 51 year history. They twice had the Cardinals down to one strike from oblivion, but St. Louis improbably dodged every bullet to win the game 10-9 in 11 innings on David Freese’s walk-off home run. It was simply one of the most remarkable, improbable games you will ever see – an instant classic!

Texas held leads of 1-0, 3-2, 4-3, 7-4, and 9-7, the last of which was in the 10th inning; but St. Louis managed to overcome all for the win. 42 players participated – 22 for St. Louis and 20 for Texas. Each team hit three home runs. They combined to commit five errors allowing four unearned runs to score.

Colby Lewis started for Texas and never looked as good as his final numbers for the game. Four batters into the first inning, he had allowed a two run home run to Lance Berkman to cough up the 1-0 first inning lead the Texas offense staked him to. He left in the sixth with one out, having allowed just one more hit. He was charged with four runs, but two were unearned.

Derek Holland was very sharp in two relief innings. He did allow a solo home run, but actually scored a run himself and was in line to be the winning pitcher going into the ninth. Neftali Feliz came on to pitch the ninth with Texas leading 7-5, but he couldn’t find the game’s 27th out. Freese tripled home two runs to send the game to extra innings.

Texas came right back with a Josh Hamilton home run, his first in 82 at bats dating back to the regular season. There was a runner aboard so the homerun extended the Rangers’ lead to 9-7. Darren Oliver and Scott Feldman could not hold the lead in the 10th, with Lance Berkman driving home the Cards ninth run. Feldman’s “blown save” was the Rangers’ third of the game.

That set the stage for Freese’s ninth inning heroics. The Series (weather permitting) will at last come to an end Friday night. It’s an elimination game for both teams. Matt Harrison is scheduled to start for Texas. With every bullpen hand pitching Thursday, C. J. Wilson is likely to be used in relief. St. Louis manager Tony La Russa has not officially named a starting pitcher, but Chris Carpenter, the game five starter, likely takes the hill on three days’ rest. The Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Red Birds’ Matt Holliday left Thursday’s game with injuries, and both are questionable for game seven. Mike Napoli, the leading candidate for Series MVP, drove home his 10th run of the series. He turned an ankle tripping over second base. He stayed in the game, but he could be questionable too.

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