You knew it wouldn’t last forever. At some point, the bullpen that blew 26 saves during the year was bound to have a letdown in the postseason. It happened Thursday night in game two as the Texas Rangers scored two runs in the ninth inning to win 2-1 and even up the World Series at a game apiece against the Cardinals.
Let’s talk about the good news first. For the second night in a row, Allen Craig was set to be the hero. He lined a single to right field off Alexi Ogando to score David Freese in the bottom of the seventh to break a scoreless tie and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Craig hit a fastball that was almost in the exact location as in game one as Ogando hit the outside corner and Craig poked it to right, going the other way.
Craig became the first player in MLB history to drive in runs with a pinch hit in his first two World Series at bats.
Craig came on for Jaime Garcia who was brilliant, tossing seven innings of three hit ball with a walk and seven strikeouts. He was trading zeroes with Texas starter Colby Lewis who left with runners on first and third and two outs. Lewis went 6.2 innings, was charged with the run, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out four.
In the ninth Jason Motte was called to finish the game off. Mizzou alum Ian Kinsler singled to center and then got a great jump on Motte and just beat a throw by Yadier Molina to steal second base. A gutsy call by Ron Washington to move a runner into scoring position, considering Yadi threw Kinsler out in the first inning of game one. Elvis Andrus then lined a single to center and Jon Jay’s throw to the infield deflected off Albert Pujols’ glove allowing Andrus to move up to second while Kinsler held up at third.
Tony La Russa went with Arthur Rhodes, the lefty-lefty matchup against Josh Hamilton, but a sac fly tied the game. Then Michael Young hit a sac fly off Lance Lynn to score Andrus for the go-ahead and eventual winning run.
On my Pressbox Podcast, I talked about two players who could be key figures in this series. For the Rangers, I picked Kinsler. I mentioned he would need to be a guy who could get on base and be a table setter for the big hitters behind him. His 2 for 3 night, including the ninth inning single, along with his steal, helped tie the game.
My other key player to watch was Garcia. He’s pitched well at home all year and tonight he certainly deserved a win. In fact, I predicted he would be the World Series MVP. There is still a great chance now that this series will come back to St. Louis and Garcia is in line to pitch game six. After tonight’s loss, the big question will be, is he pitching to clinch the club’s 11th title or pitching to force a game seven?