Home runs from knees. A fortuitous bounce off a pitcher’s hand. And pitching lines of one intentional walk.It was a weird night at the Ballpark in Arlington. But that’s just fine for the Rangers, a team just one win away from claiming its first World Series trophy.
Rangers’ catcher Mike Napoli broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with a two-run double off Cardinals’ reliever Mark Rzepczynski to win 4-2 and take a 3-2 series advantage.
“I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap,” Napoli said after the game.
His hit came just one at-bat after St. Louis failed to turn a potential inning-ending double play when David Murphy’s bouncer up the middle glanced off Rzepczynski’s hand and away from the Cardinals’ defence.
Then, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa brought Lance Lynn in the game to face Ian Kinsler. Following an intentional walk, LaRussa walked back to the mound to pull Lynn in favour of Jason Motte. After just four intentional balls.
LaRussa said there were communication issues all inning with the bullpen. He called bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist to get Motte up in addition to Rzepczynski. But Lilliquist only heard Rzepczynski. So he was forced to face Napoli.
“I mean, it’s loud down there, and sometimes you call down there and you have to wait until the crowd and a guy gets up late,” LaRussa said. “I mean, this is not unusual.”
Neither was Adrian Beltre’s game-tying solo home run in the sixth inning. He launched a Chris Carpenter pitch into the left field bleachers – while falling onto one knee.
The Rangers survived a shaky outing from their ace, C.J. Wilson. The free agent-to-be issued five walks through five-plus innings but somehow exited the game having only allowed two runs (and one earned).
Chris Carpenter pitched brilliantly, allowing just two solo shots by Beltre and Mitch Moreland over seven innings.
But his team’s offence failed him. St. Louis stranded 12 base runners over the course of the game.
The Cardinals return to St. Louis in win-or-stay-home mode for game six Wednesday. They’ll send Jaime Garcia to the mound to face the Rangers’ Colby Lewis.
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