Matt Harrison deserved so much better. In another edition of proving Ron Washington’s axiom “That’s the way baseball go”, Harrison actually didn’t pitch all that badly but ended up on the hook for the loss as the Cardinals pummeled the Rangers to take a 2-1 lead in the World Series.
Cardinals fans and sports viewers in general will take Albert Pujols’ three majestic homers as the story of the game. Majestic as they were, all three came after the Cardinals were ahead, so I wouldn’t say they were key to the victory. Impressive, yes. Key, no.
What opened the floodgates was a bad call by an umpire. On a double play grounder, Ian Kinsler’s throw to Mike Napoli was wide of the bag at first. Still, Napoli caught the ball and slapped the tag on Matt Holliday’s back a full stride before he stepped on the bag. Unfortunately for Texas, this was totally missed by the first base umpire. To be fair, pitchers have to learn to shake off bad calls like this and Harrison didn’t. He got rattled and the next thing you know, a 1-0 Cardinals lead had turned into a 5-0 lead and Harrison was out of the game.
Not a single Rangers reliever came out of the rest of the game unscathed. Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez, Mark Lowe and Darren Oliver all had at least one run charged to them as St. Louis, and Pujols in particular, kept the punishment going to the end. I was a little surprised the Rangers didn’t intentionally walk Pujols on the at bat where he got his second dinger, but I guess Washington felt the Cards were already up by a substantial margin so they might as well try to pitch to him.
The Rangers tried to make a game of it after falling behind by five. They scored three in the fourth, chasing Kyle Lohse and making it 5-3. The Cardinals added three in the top of the 5th to make it 8-3. Texas closed to within 8-6 in the bottom of the 5th, but the Redbirds added four more in the top of the sixth to make it 12-6. The game was effectively over at that point.
I can handle a defeat. What really chapped me as a Rangers fan is this was a loss that featured atypical Rangers baseball. Ian Kinsler, who had the best defensive season of his career in 2011 had his second error of the series on an easy grounder, plus the wide throw at first that resulted in the blown call. Elvis Andrus, whose errors are mostly of the throwing variety, had a boot on another easy grounder.
Meanwhile, Harrison looked like the regular season Matt Harrison from the start, the first inning home run off him notwithstanding. Harry was under control, fluid in his motion, had good stuff, everything that portended an extended inning start until the disaster of the fourth inning hit.
The Texas offense finally came alive, but it was always in a come from behind effort. Worse, they let the Cardinals bullpen off the hook by not making them burn through more of their bullpen tonight. Now it’s the Texas bullpen in trouble for the next two games, as only Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz sat out the game.
Once again the Rangers find themselves on the ropes. It’s up to Derek Holland to turn the tide on Sunday.
I do not want the Texas Rangers to become known as the Buffalo Bills of Major League Baseball. Time to turn it around.