In all of my 19 years of watching baseball, Game 6 of the 2011 World Series has to be the greatest game I have ever seen. The game had everything—comebacks, errors, that moment where you lose your breath for a split second and the moments where you just are in shock and awe of what is happening before your very eyes. It also had the home team, the Cardinals, and the hometown hero, David Freese, step up to force a Game 7 in this World Series.
Believe in the Birds
It's unlikely to see a team down in the World Series, or any game for that matter, come back to win but the Cardinals came back five times on Thursday night into Friday morning. Not only did they come back five times to lead or tie the ball game, in the latter part of the game they were down to their final strike.
In the ninth, Albert Pujols was up to what everyone believed to be his final at-bat as a Cardinal, and if it was, he ended his career in St. Louis with a double. Then, a Lance Berkman walk put the tying run on first. For me, I knew Neftali Feliz was only joking around and just wanted to create some drama.
Freese was the next batter, and after dropping an easy pop-fly earlier in the game, fans knew he would have to try to do something to make up for it. A Feliz pitch would scream off his bat towards right field, and since the Rangers play the “No Double Defense,” I figured Nelson Cruz would be able to catch it, but he didn’t. The ball sailed over his glove, and Freese ended up with a straight triple.
The 10th would bring more drama. Elvis Andrus singled after Ian Kinsler popped out. Josh Hamilton would be up next, and his poor performance did not over shadow the home run that he hit to put the Rangers up 9-7. The air was sucked right out of Busch Stadium.
Who Will Win the 2011 World Series
The bottom of the 10th could only be seen as some sort of witchcraft. Darren Oliver relieved Feliz. David Descalso came in and singled off Oliver to start the inning. Jon Jay would single right after him, bringing up the pitching slot.
Tony La Russa first pinched hit Edwin Jackson for Jason Motte, then changed his mind and sent Kyle Lohse to bunt. Only La Russa could pinch hit two pitchers for one at-bat. Lohse would pop up a bunt over the head of a charging third baseman Adrian Beltre. As Andrus was headed to cover third, he made a quick stop, moved back to his left and gunned down Lohse storming for first. One of the most underrated plays in the Series.
With first base open, Pujols was intentionally walked and it would be a Beard vs. Beard matchup in Scott Feldman and the Big Puma Lance Berkman. Berkman would single to score Jay to tie the game up. Allen Craig would try to play the hero in the 10th, but he grounded out to third instead.
The Cards bullpen would shut down the Rangers in the top of the 11th. Mark Lowe came in to replace Feldman and face Freese. With great determination Freese lifted a Lowe pitch to deep center, and it was out of here. Cardinals win 10-9. Freese’s jersey gets ripped off.
From Bullpen to Pig Pen
The Rangers and Cardinals bullpen were both torn up in this game. The Rangers used Alexi Ogando, Derek Holland, Mike Adams, Feliz, Oliver, Feldman and Lowe. The Rangers pen allowed 10 hits, six runs and two home runs. Atrocious if you want to close out a World Series game.
The Cards bullpen allowed 10 hits as well. Seven runs and three homers were also racked up from Rangers hitters. Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, Motte and Jason Westbrook were all used during the game.
Both bullpens are overworked and are going to be tired headed into Game 7. Both Game 7 starters are going to need to last long to ensure that their bullpens are rested enough for the latter stages of the game.
There was much talk before the series and during the series with the Cardinals about what was wrong with the Rangers’ top hitter Josh Hamilton. Hamilton is suffering from some kind of groin injury, but manager Ron Washington refuses to not play Hamilton or put him lower in the lineup to protect him from further injuring himself.
Hamilton finally woke up Thursday night. He was 3-for-6 including a two-run home run in the 10th inning off of Cardinals closer Jason Motte. Hamilton struck out once but drove in three runs for the Rangers’ benefit. He needs to do well for the Rangers to win Game 7.
Game 7 will feature Chris Carpenter against Matt Harrison. Carpenter is on three days rest and will try to give the Cardinals a win. Matt Harrison is on full rest and has been waiting for this moment all his life, according to what he told ESPN analyst Tim Kurkjian early this morning.
Carpenter pitched seven innings Tuesday and struck out four batters, giving up two runs on six hits. Harrison last pitched in Game 3 and allowed three runs on six hits. He only lasted three and two-thirds innings, which means he’s very well rested and is ready to pitch.
As Joe Buck said Friday morning, 20 years after his father said it in the 1991 World Series, “We’ll see you tomorrow night.”