Game six, bottom of the ninth, two outs, one ball, two strikes; one pitch away from making the Texas Rangers World Series Champions for the first time in franchise history. The 1-2 pitch from Ranger closer Neftali Feliz to Freese is…
Not what Rangers fans wanted to see.
In Nacogdoches, and all around the SFA campus, Rangers fans are not hard to spot. From the “reindeer” shirts to the uniform-”T” hats, the Texas Rangers have a large impact at SFA.
That pitch, for those who didn’t get to see it, was drilled by Cardinal third baseman David Freese off the wall in right field, just past the glove of leaping Ranger right fielder Nelson Cruz for a two-RBI and game-tying triple.
This is when the magic began for the Cardinals.
Up to this point, the 2011 World Series was already being considered an all-time Fall Classic. With Derek Holland pitching a gem in Game 4 and Albert Pujols making history by becoming only the third player in World Series history to hit three home runs in the same game in Game 3, this Series was being slated as one of the best.
And that was before destiny played her role.
The Cardinals’ World Series comeback is more of a miracle than the win over Russia in 1980 by the US Olympic Hockey team: the story of the Kurt Russell-starred movie appropriately deemed “Miracle.”
The Texas Rangers were the giants who couldn’t be stopped; the back-to-back American League Champions; the God-sent angels that would bring the Dallas area two championships in the same year. They are, in fact, Russian.
Obviously Kurt Russell is a Cardinals fan.
Texas’ Game 2 rally in the ninth inning to tie the series up at one a piece set the tone for the entire series. Then Pujols’ Game 3 performance to put his name with Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Derek Holland’s two-hitter in Game 4 that he brought to the ninth inning. Mike Napoli’s winning hit in Game 5 to go up 3-2 going back to St. Louis. Destiny took over.
Up by 2 runs in the top of the ninth in Game 6, the Rangers were three outs away from winning their first World Series. Then they were two outs away. Then one out away. Then one measly strike away from making history and becoming 2011 World Series champs. That’s when the iceberg that is David Freese sunk the Titanic.
Freese’s two-out, two-strike, two-RBI triple in the bottom of the ninth tied up the game 7-7 and Rangers fans thought, “Are you kidding me?”
Then in the top of the tenth, Ranger Josh Hamilton cranked a two-run homerun to put the Rangers back up by two going into the bottom of the tenth.
Now the Rangers can breathe again, right?
After scoring on Ryan Theriot’s RBI-groundout, the Cardinals saw themselves one run down and first base open with the greatest right-handed batter of all-time, Albert Pujols, up to bat. And what does Ron Washington have to, and I mean have to, do in that situation?
Walk him. Walk him. Walk him.
That’s the right call, every day of the week.
Do not take any chances. Make the next batter, Lance Berkman, beat you. And that’s exactly what Berkman did. Again with two strikes—seems to be a theme here—the Rangers couldn’t close out the Series and Berkman delivered an RBI single to send the game into the 11th inning.
Are you kidding me?
At this point, the Rangers had nothing left in the tank. The Cardinals held them scoreless in the top of the frame and David Freese delivered the game-ending solo homerun to dead center field.
It’s simple from here.
Cardinal pitcher Chris Carpenter shut down the potent Ranger lineup in Game 7 and the Cardinals were crowned World Champions.
The thing is, the Cardinals should have been dead, buried. They should have been on a golf course or a deep-sea fishing trip. They had no business playing in October.
Ten and a half games back in the Wild Card with a month and a half to play, the Cardinals should have been miles away from Busch Stadium in October. But it doesn’t matter now, because they are World Champions. Champions of one of the greatest World Series in the history of baseball.
Are you kidding me?