Baseball is a wonderful sport, because it’s anybody’s game. Sure, you can have the best team with the best pitchers, coaches and staff, but you are never guaranteed a win. The Texas Rangers learned that lesson on Wednesday night, and the St. Louis Cardinals learned it on Thursday night.
The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead into the top of the ninth inning of last night’s game. One of the previous night’s heroes, Jason Motte, came in to pitch the ninth (on Wednesday he had a 1-2-3 ninth). On Thursday night, Motte would not be so fortunate. He gave up a bloop single to leadoff-man Ian Kinsler. Next, Kinsler stole second base (barely beating Yadier Molina’s throw to second). Next, Motte gave up a single to Elvis Andrus which moved Kinsler to third, there was some intrigue on this play though. When the throw came in from center fielder Jon Jay, it missed Albert Pujols (the cutoff man), which gave Andrus a chance to run for second base. The tying run was now on first, and the go-ahead run was on second (both in scoring position).
La Russa made a move to the bullpen and brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes. The next batter was Josh Hamilton (who has gone hitless in all of his World Series appearances this year and last year), who La Russa told Rhodes to go after. “Load the bases, that’s a really difficult thing to do,” La Russa said.
Rhodes hung a pitch in the zone and Hamilton lifted a sacrifice fly to right field (which scored Kinsler and moved Andrus to third); 1-1. La Russa made another move and brought in Lance Lynn to try and close the inning. Lynn gave up a sac fly to Michael Young, scoring Andrus from third.
It was up to Neftali Feliz to close the Cardinals in the ninth. After sending Yadier Molina to first on a walk, he struck out Punto and Skip Schumaker. That left it all up to Rafael Furcal. Furcal flew out to right field and the game was over.
With the series tied 1-1, it is still anyone’s series to win. As always, game three is the ‘swing game’ that will shift all the momentum (and statistically speaking the series) to the winner. Can St. Louis steal the next one on the road, or will Texas protect their home field? Even though the winner of the first game of the series has eventually won it all 12 of the last 14 times, baseball is always anybody’s game.