World Series- Rangers Revenge!
They were three outs away from being in deep trouble again. Instead, after two singles, two brilliant base running plays, two sacrifice flies and one stunning ninth-inning rally, the Rangers have roared back into the World Series.
The Rangers manufactured two runs in the top of the ninth against the Cardinals' vaunted bullpen and stole a 2-1 victory in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday night. In doing so, Texas crushed the hopes of the vast majority of 47,288 fans at Busch Stadium who were ready to celebrate St. Louis going up 2-0 in the Series. Instead, it's tied at 1 and headed back to Arlington.
"That was amazing," outfielder Nelson Cruz said. "That's who we are. That was a great win. It couldn't have been bigger than that."
"Tonight was one of those great games you will continue to see," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "I've got to say to those of you with a bad heart, watch yourself."
The Rangers, in beating Cards closer Jason Motte, became only the third team in World Series history to rally from a 1-0 deficit to win a game with two runs in the ninth inning or later. The others were the 1911 Athletics and the '85 Royals.
"Going back home down, 0-2, we would have been in trouble," winning pitcher Mike Adams said. "But to get even like that, rally in the ninth inning -- especially against their closer ... a really good closer -- to pull off a victory like that was really big."
Josh Hamilton and Michael Young also made World Series history with a pair of sacrifice flies. This marks the first time in World Series play that both the tying and go-ahead runs were brought home on sacrifice flies.
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"I don't care how they come. ... At least we were scoring runs," Young said. "In that situation, sac flies were what we needed. It's just team baseball, something we've been doing well all season long."
Game 3 is scheduled for 7:05 CT on Saturday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with Matt Harrison pitching for Texas against Kyle Lohse. If the Rangers can win three straight at home, they won't have to come back to Busch Stadium.
"You're playing against legitimate competition, and if they get the win and beat you, you tip your cap," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We did the best we could and they did it better, so the Series is 1-1."
It also seems to have swung in the Rangers' favor after the dramatic events that took place in the ninth, including Ian Kinsler pulling off possibly the biggest stolen base in club history.
"Ian really stepped up for us," said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who was right in the middle of the rally. "We never give up. That's the way we play. We understand the game can change on one pitch, and it did."
"You know, it wasn't a Series-saving rally, but it was huge," said Kinsler, who ignited the rally after Texas had managed just three singles in the first eight innings. "I mean, all these games are very big. It's the World Series, last two teams -- every victory is huge. To be able to come from behind against a guy like that on the mound -- it was a big win for us."
The first seven innings saw a tremendous pitchers' duel between Rangers starter Colby Lewis and left-hander Jaime Garcia. Lewis went 6 2/3 innings, delivering the longest outing by a Rangers pitcher this postseason, but the Cards strung together three hits off him and Alexi Ogando to take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
For the second time in as many games, Allen Craig delivered the big hit with a pinch-hit RBI single off Ogando. That appeared to be the deciding blow going into the ninth with Motte ready to close it out.
Then the Rangers' offense finally got something going after managing just two runs in 17 innings against Cardinals pitching. They had also mustered just seven runs over 53 innings in their last six World Series games and were in danger of being shut out for the third time in that stretch.
"We have the attitude of, 'You know what? Until the last pitch is thrown, the last out is made, we're going to keep fighting,'" Hamilton said. "You can't really say why that is, other than the character of the guys on our team."
Kinsler, after Motte entered the game, led off the fateful ninth by reaching on a single as he blooped a full-count pitch into left field, just beyond the reach of shortstop Rafael Furcal.
"The one to Kinsler I felt was a good pitch," Motte said. "It was down, but obviously, it was not down enough. He got enough on it."
Kinsler then broke for second on a 1-1 pitch to Andrus, who was in bunt mode but took the pitch. Kinsler slid in safely, just barely beating a strong throw from catcher Yadier Molina.
"My hand barely got in there," Kinsler said. "It took everything I had. Yadier made an unbelievable throw -- quick, on the money -- and I was able to get my hand in there."
"Not many people would run on Yadi, and they barely made it," La Russa said. "It took guts, and they executed it."
Andrus followed with a single to center. Kinsler stopped at third, but Andrus alertly raced to second when center fielder Jon Jay's throw sailed under the glove of Albert Pujols -- a rare error for the first baseman, who was trying to cut off the throw to the plate.
"That's what you have to do -- read the throw," Andrus said. "As soon as I saw the ball hit the glove, I took off."
La Russa then brought in left-hander Arthur Rhodes to face Hamilton. Playing with a strained left groin, Hamilton flied out to right field on the first pitch, bringing home Kinsler and moving Andrus to third.
Right-hander Lance Lynn was brought in to face Young, who worked the count full before hitting a sacrifice fly to center field that brought home the go-ahead run.
"They caught a break with the blooper, but after that, they did some good classic baseball stuff to make two guys come around and score," La Russa said. "They deserve credit for how they played in the ninth inning offensively. They showed in the ninth inning they can play the game correctly when they advanced the runners and scored them."
Neftali Feliz took over in the ninth and added to the tension when he walked Molina to lead off the inning. But he struck out Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker, then retired Furcal on a fly to right to end the game. Feliz is now 5-for-5 in save opportunities with a 1.04 ERA in eight appearances this postseason. But none was bigger than this one.
"I didn't feel one bit of pressure out there," Feliz said. "I was focused 100 percent on the batter and doing my job. This was a very important win for us. Now we're tied and we're going home, where we play well."