25 October 2011

Game #5: Napoli Stars Again

After blasting a 3-run homer the night before to seal the deal on their second World Series win, one might think that the Texas Rangers' not-so-well known catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli would take a break and rest on his laurels. He did not. In addition to doing a great job of catching he hit a bases-loaded double in the 8th to break a 2-2 tie; he threw out the same runner twice at 2nd base to break up and end a couple of Cardinal rallies; and he beat Lance Berkman in a foot-race to first base, admittedly with a head-start, after Berkman struck out to end the game. A good night's work I would say.


The starting pitchers looked strong: Carpenter for the Cards, apart from two big home runs by Moreland and Beltre, was very effective. Location and curve ball were amazing. Wilson for the Rangers, apart from a lot of walks was pretty good too. A lot of Cards were stranded on the bases. They both handed it over to their bullpens with the score tied 2-2.

Of course a little luck was needed in the form of some base-running snafus by the Cardinals late in the game, curiously enough, involving the same runner on first, Allen Craig, and even stranger, the same batter, the estimable Señor Alberto Pujols. The first was apparently a run-and-hit called by the batter Pujols.

The runner Craig starts and the pitch is way over the batter's head, impossible to hit but not too high for Signor Napoli who throws out the runner at 2nd base fairly easily. When the runner gets back to the dugout it looks like Manager La Russa is asking him what happened, suggesting the play was called by the batter.

Then, an inning or two later with the same runner, Allen Craig, on first, a run-and-hit is called again, this time by La Russa, with one out and the count 3-2, Pujols swings at a ball 6 inches outside, something he hardly ever does, except when he is trying to protect the runner, misses and the runner is thrown out for an inning-ending and very depressing double play. La Russa is trying to avoid a double play by starting the runner trusting that his best hitter, Alberto Pujols, would make contact. Inside small ball details.

The final scene in this tragi-comedy features Lance Berkman at the bat, swinging at a low third strike and missing. The ball hits Napoli's glove and then his shinguard which causes it to carom more than usual in foul territory toward first. Very fortunately, Napoli sees where it went, gets a 10-15 foot head start over Berkman and runs it down about 50-60 ft down the line while Berkman is looking for the ball and then fairly quickly catching up to Napoli. The latter is able to toss it underhand to first baseman Moreland for the final out just ahead of the charging Berkman. Whew!

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