That’s the word many are using to describe last night’s 4-2 Rangers victory over the Cardinals in game five of the World Series. Unbelievable that the Cardinals could make not one but two major blunders in the span of a few innings under the leadership of future Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa. What gets lost in this is Mike Napoli playing the role of hero for the second night in a row, coming up big when the Rangers needed him most.
Monday’s game five was a rematch of the World Series opener; Cardinals’ ace Chris Carpenter squaring off against C.J. Wilson of the Rangers. Wilson continued his postseason struggles and Carpenter didn’t look especially sharp, but each starter held their opponents to two runs. Wilson lasted 5 1/3 innings giving up four hits and five walks. Carpenter went seven frames, surrendering six hits and a pair of walks.
Adrian Beltre tied the game at two in the 6th with his bomb-on-a-knee, but things really started to get interesting in the late innings.
In the top of the 7th, following a walk, Allen Craig attempted to steal second base. While some would say this alone may not be a wise decision, it was even more confounding considering who was at the plate. Albert Pujols took the pitch and Craig was gunned down at second. Many were left wondering, what just happened? It figured to be one of the first questions La Russa would have to answer following the game.
Boy were we wrong.
Things got even crazier in the bottom of the 8th. La Russa had gone to his pen, calling on Octavio Dotel to begin the inning. Following a Michael Young double and Beltre strikeout, Dotel was told to intentionally walk Nelson Cruz. After the game, Dotel told reporters that he really didn’t want to do it, but alas it’s not up to him.
Marc Rzepczynski was then brought in and appeared to induce an inning-ending double play. Unfortunately the ball glanced off the reliever and resulted in an infield single. With the bases loaded, Mike Napoli, Sunday night’s hero, stepped to the plate.
Mike Napoli, the right-handed batter Mike Napoli, ended up facing the left-handed reliever Rzepczynski. Announcers were again baffled as to how this could be happening. La Russa had a right-handed de facto closer that would seem to make a whole lot of sense in said situation.
But, Rzepczynski pitched to Napoli and Napoli did what he does, hit lefties. Napoli’s two RBI double ended up being the decided blow in Monday’s game.
So, following the contest, you can understand that Craig’s base running blunder was put on the back burner. Hoping for an explanation for the interesting use of pitchers in the 8th, the media and fans alike left more confused than ever.
La Russa chalked up Rzepczynski’s appearance against Napoli to a phone miscue. Like his bullpen coach couldn’t hear what name he said.
La Russa called for Motte and Rzepczynski and only Rzepczynski got up. Not knowing what was going on, La Russa again called the pen requesting Motte to get up. This time, the bullpen coach apparently heard ‘Lynn’ as in Lance Lynn who would eventually come in to face a single batter, a batter that he would intentionally walk. Motte did finally make his way into the game, striking out the only batter he faced.
A day after, many are questioning the merit of La Russa’s excuse and exactly what he must have been thinking. The only thing that now matters is that the Rangers lead the series 3-2. Today the clubs travel back to St. Louis, where play resumes Wednesday night. Colby Lewis will try to pitch the Rangers to their first World Series title while Jaime Garcia attempts to push it to seven.