Monday, October 24, 2011
Texas Rangers 4, St. Louis Cardinals 2 (Game 5 of the World Series)
Rangers get huge clutch hit from Mike Napoli, take lead in series.
ARLINGTON The Texas Rangers came through late Monday night, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 in Game 5 of the World Series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The win puts Texas ahead 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, with the remaining game or games in St. Louis.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Texas catcher Mike Napoli crushed a two-run double to the right-center field wall off previously-unhittable Cardinals reliever Marc Rzepczynski. In the top of the ninth, Napoli threw out Allen Craig at second base as Game 3 hero Albert Pujols struck out, then threw out the final hitter, Lance Berkman, after a dropped strikeout.
Napoli, who has 9 of the Rangers' 19 RBIs in the World Series, also just missed hitting a three-run home run to deep center field in the bottom of the sixth. The fly ball traveled over 400 feet to the warning track before it was caught.
Both teams had plenty of chances to break the game wide open. St. Louis stranded 19 men on base, while Texas stranded 14. Both teams had multiple chances to drive in runs with the bases loaded, but could not.
Rangers starter C.J. Wilson was serviceable, allowing two runs on four hits over five-plus innings. Wilson, who walked five and threw a wild pitch, avoided becoming the first player in history to lose four postseason games in a single year, largely thanks to his defense, which provided timely outs and a critical double play in the top of the third.
The Rangers bullpen was effective, as four relievers combined to throw three and two-thirds innings of shutout ball. Only in the top of the seventh, when Alexi Ogando loaded the bases with two outs — two of the hitters reaching on intentional walks — did St. Louis truly threaten to dismantle the bullpen as they had in Game 3. Ogando got NLCS MVP David Freese to fly out to center for the final out of the inning, however.
Darren Oliver pitched a flawless eighth for the win, and Neftali Feliz struck out two in a rollercoaster ninth for the save.
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter was just as lucky as Wilson, allowing just two runs on six hits over seven innings. Carpenter, who walked two and struck out four, gave up a pair of solo home runs: the first to a slumping Mitch Moreland in the bottom of the third to cut the St. Louis lead to 2-1, and the second to Adrian Beltre in the bottom of the sixth, when Beltre belted one to deep left field from one knee to tie the game at 2-2.
The Cardinals bullpen, however, was not up to task. Four Cardinals relievers pitched in the inning — including one pitcher brought in solely to throw an intentional walk to Ian Kinsler — and surrendered two runs on three hits. The defining moment was when Rzepczynski, who was lights-out in the first two games of the series, gave up an infield hit to David Murphy that bounced off Rzepczynski's knee and rolled to the second baseman, allowing Murphy to reach first and loading the bases with one out for Napoli.
Game 6 is Wednesday night in St. Louis, as the Rangers' Colby Lewis will face the Cardinals' Jaime Garcia in the first elimination game of the series.