In a critical Game 5 World Series loss to the Texas Rangers, the St. Louis Cardinals and Manager Tony La Russa are under fire for the team going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. The biggest questions surround La Russa's decisions to involve Allen Craig, the man hitting in front of slugger Albert Pujols in the lineup. In the third inning, Craig was asked to sacrifice bunt Rafael Furcal to third base, leading to an intentional walk for Pujols. In the seventh inning, Craig was thrown out at second base attempting to steal with one out and Albert Pujols at the plate. La Russa defended the seventh-inning decision, saying:
"I trusted Albert could put the ball in play. I liked sending him (Allen Craig) and having a chance to open that inning up, and it didn't work." Via Ken Rosenthal, Fox
La Russa called the play a "mix up," but insisted that "[o]n our team, nobody gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." But that wasn't all for mix ups in the loss. A bullpen mixup may have cost the Cardinals the game, as La Russa and Bullpen Coach Derek Lilliquist failed to communicate on who should be warming up to face Rangers slugger Mike Napoli. With two runners in scoring position and two outs in the bottom of the eight inning, Manager Tony La Russa expected closer Jason Motte to be warm and ready for a showdown with Napoli, but instead discovered he had to stick with Marc Rzepczynski. The matchup was unfavorable, and Napoli hit a game-winning double as a result, but La Russa still felt it could have worked, saying this after the game:
"We had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli on the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball." Via ESPN Dallas
a Russa didn't quite know how to explain the gaffe after the game, saying "that phone in a loud ballpark, it's not an unusual problem."
The 2011 World Series is headed back to St. Louis with the Cardinals on the brink of elimination after a pivotal 4-2 Game 5 loss to the Texas Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers struck the decisive blow in the eighth inning when rising postseason star Mike Napoli blasted a two-run double to center field off Marc Rzepczynski. The line drive scored Nelson Cruz and Michael Young. That's all the scoring Texas would need.
Neftali Feliz came in to close out the victory for Texas in the top of the ninth and got the job done. After hitting Allen Craig with a pitch to start the inning, Feliz stuck out Albert Pujols and then Napoli threw out Craig as he was attempting to steal second. Feliz would walk Matt Holliday, but got Lance Berkman to strike out swinging. Napoli went deep into foul territory to record the final put-out, a fitting end to a typically exhilarating World Series game. It was Feliz's sixth save of the postseason.
The Cardinals left 12 men on base in Game 5. Game 6 is Wednesday at Busch Stadium.
For more on the 2011 World Series, Rangers fans should check out Lone Star Ball and Cardinals fans should join the conversation at Viva El Birdos.
Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers dropped down to one knee and punished a Chris Carpenter offering for a two-out solo home run to tie Game 5 of the 2011 World Series at two in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Not that SB Nation ever advises putting stock into the things Tim McCarver says (our motto isn’t "sports for smart people", but at least it wouldn’t be inaccurate) but here’s what Fox’s color commentator had to say about the game tying homer: "Beltre only does that on breaking balls as he follows that pitch going down, down, down". Looks like somebody owned that self-titled blink-182 album from 2003.
Carpenter has allowed six hits and two earned runs through six innings, while striking out three and walking one. If not for that control, these solo shots by the Rangers could potentially be much more damaging.
Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals had a chance to crack Game 5 wide open when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth inning. Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson was unfazed, though, and got Holliday to ground out to shortstop Elvis Andrus to end the inning and keep the Cardinals' lead at 2-1.
A scoreless fifth for St. Louis registers as an opportunity lost. Skip Schumaker got things started with a single to lead off the inning, and Nick Punto followed with a walk. When Albert Pujols came to the plate with two outs and first base open, Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn’t about to give the game’s most dynamic hitter a chance to beat him. The ensuing intentional walk to Pujols loaded the bases for Holliday.
The Rangers got on the board thanks to a solo homer from third baseman Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the third. Moreland had previously misplayed a ball in the second inning that resulted in a St. Louis run.
The St. Louis Cardinals are off to a good start in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series. With a little help from the Texas defense, they're up 2-0 in the second inning.
St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday walked to begin the top half of the inning, then advanced to second base on a pitch in the dirt that got away from Texas catcher Mike Napoli. After a Lance Berkman walk and a David Freese flyout, Yadier Molina singled to left field, scoring Holliday. Texas left fielder David Murphy caught an untimely case of the bobbles as he fielded the Molina hit, but probably wouldn't have had time to throw out Holliday regardless.
Skip Schumaker followed the Molina single with a routine ground ball to Texas first baseman Mitch Morland, but Morland was unable to field the ball cleanly, and there was no throw home as Lance Berkman scored the Cardinals' second run.
St. Louis manager Tony La Russa has decided to give a start to Skip Schumaker in place of the struggling Jon Jay, who has yet to manage a base hit in the series. Schumaker is a downgrade at the plate, but under these circumstances, La Russa probably figures a change is worth a shot. The Rangers' Ron Washington, on the other hand, is running out the same lineup he used in game 4.