The Narrative: This was a must win for the Texas Rangers, or so we were led to believe in the hours between the St. Louis Cardinals Game One victory and the first pitch being thrown out in Game Two. So, it was perfectly fitting that Mr. Ranger, Michael Young, who plays heart and bats soul for Texas, would bring in the winning run of the game by sacrificing himself with a fly ball to right center field, leading his team to a 2-1 victory and a tied series headed for Arlington.
Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia both pitched the type of game that wins people over to baseball: tense, tight and incredibly deliberate with every ball thrown from the mound. Lewis went six and two thirds, striking out two, and allowing a run on four hits and two walks, while his counterpart Garcia struck out seven over seven full innings, allowing no runs on three hits and one walk.
Once again, it was almost Allen Craig walking away with the headlines. It looked as though Craig’s RBI single in the seventh was once again going to be the difference, until aggressive base running and sacrifice fly balls combined to allow the Texas Rangers to finally get to the “dominant” St. Louis bullpen and find victory.
The Anatomy Of The Exact Same Pitch
This is how Alexi Ogando challenged Allen Craig when he was called from the bullpen in Game One:
On the fourth 4-seamer that Allen saw from Ogando, he punched it into right field to drive home the winning run.
This is how Alexi Ogando challenged Allen Craig when he was called from the bullpen in Game Two:
On the second 4-seamer that Allen saw from Ogando, he punched it into right field to drive home what would’ve been the winning run had the Rangers not scored two runs in the top of the ninth.
Okay, so maybe they weren’t the exact same pitches, but the eerily similar location and the frustratingly similar results are something that Ogando should maybe try not to repeat again.
The Most Important Play Of The Game
Down by a run in the ninth inning with Ian Kinsler on second base, Elvis Andrus flared a ball to right center field that dropped in for a base hit. Kinsler was held at third base, but Andrus advanced to second on a throw that missed the cut off and was slowed by Albert Pujols reaching for it.
While it didn’t score any runs, the play created a run expectancy of 1.93 for Josh Hamilton who was due up next. His sacrifice fly scored Kinsler and advanced Andrus. And then Michael Young repeated Hamilton’s feat by driving another sacrifice fly to score Andrus for the go ahead, and ultimately, winning run.
However, it was Andrus’ flare and heads up base running that increased the Rangers’ probability of winning (25.3%) by more than any other play.
And he also did this:
The Game Of Inches Of The Game
I mentioned that Kinsler was on second base, when Andrus hit his single. That’s because of this slide on his stolen base attempt.
Kudos to Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina who made this close despite Jason Motte taking all the time in the world to get to the plate.
The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game
After Yadier Molina walked to lead off the ninth, Nick Punto came up to the plate down by a run, with a run expectancy of 0.85. He proceeded to strike out, swinging on the heat sent his way by Neftali Feliz. The swing and miss decreased the Cardinals’ probability of winning by 12.3%.
The Shamsky Award
Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.
Pinch hitting in the seventh inning, Allen Craig’s only plate appearance of the game resulted in a run scoring single. It was the first run of the game and increased the Cardinals win probability by 20.3% in what ended up being a losing effort.
The Statistics You Won’t Believe
There have only been three 1-0 World Series games since the Morris-Smoltz duel of 1991: Game 4 in 2005, Game 5 in 1996, Game 6 in 1995.
After two appearances consisting of an inning and a third of work, Marc Rzepczynski has struck out three batters and induced a ground out in eleven pitches. His World Series FIP is a negative number.
The St. Louis Cardinals stranded nine runners tonight. Strand rated.
The Aggravating Thing That The Managers Did
Not so much aggravating, but it would’ve been really cool if Tony La Russa, instead of taking Jason Motte out of the game in the ninth after the Andrus bloop, put him in left field, brought in Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton, then put Motte back on the mound to face Michael Young. It could have made a difference.
Word to the wise: don’t listen to what Tim McCarver says about what type of pitch is being thrown. I got fooled by him last night when I assumed a slider was being thrown that was actually a sinker, and tonight he called what was clearly a change up, a slider again.
I don’t think that Nelson Cruz is necessarily well thought of by St. Louis Cardinals fans:
How is Nick Punto getting favourable counts when he comes up to the plate? No pitcher should ever fall behind that guy.
Is Marc Rzepzcynski or Allen Craig the leading favourite for the MVP award if St. Louis wins?
I’m no great promoter of narrative, but Josh Hamilton’s sacrifice fly was even more impressive when you stop to consider that he’s basically driving the ball without any power coming from his legs.
In honour of the sacrificing method that the Texas Rangers used to score both their runs tonight: