Home MLB World Series 2011 Game Two: Rangers rock Cardinals with classic comeback

World Series 2011 Game Two: Rangers rock Cardinals with classic comeback

by Matt Smith

MlbHlSqWhen you live in Europe, you know that you will have to sacrifice some sleep if you want to follow the World Series live. 

That’s not always easy – or possible, in some cases – but it’s no hardship at all when it allows you to watch two games like we’ve seen so far in this Fall Classic.

Game One was a tense opener and Game Two was even closer.  The Texas Rangers landed a big – potentially pivotal – blow with a stunning comeback to win 2-1.

At the end of the seventh inning, with the Cardinals having just gained a 1-0, I commented on Twitter that the next two innings could be incredibly significant in the context of the series. 

If the Cardinals could hold on to their lead, they would be in a very strong position needing only two wins from the remaining five games to win their eleventh championship.  If the Rangers could make a comeback, that would change everything.  Not only is there a big difference between 1-1 and 0-2 in a best-of-seven series, but levelling the contest with a late rally would shift all the momentum back the Rangers’ way as the series headed to Texas for the next three games.

The Rangers rose to the challenge and in doing so have given themselves a great chance to avenge their World Series defeat of one year ago.

It didn’t look likely when Allen Craig gave the Cardinals the lead with a pinch-hit off Alexi Ogando for the second straight night.  It was ‘de ja vu all over again’, as Yogi Berra would say, and the St. Louis crowd celebrated as if they thought they had seen the decisive moment of the game.  The storylines were already being written of Tony La Russa’s move once again coming out on top over Ron Washington’s pitching change.  However, La Russa’s bullpen button pushing didn’t turn out to be quite as successful second time around. 

In fairness, we can perhaps make too much of the moves made by the managers.  They have an impact of course, but ultimately it is the players on the field that determine the game by coming through at the crucial moments.

This time, it was the Rangers who eventually grabbed hold of the game.  Ian Kinsler got on board in the ninth and knew he needed to get into scoring position.  His steal of second wasn’t quite of Dave Roberts proportions, but it did shift the momentum and appeared to give Texas the belief that they could rescue the game. 

Elvis Andrus then followed Kinsler’s lead with a smart piece of baserunning to take advantage of some slopping fielding by the Cardinals.  Two sacrifice flies later and the game had swung from 1-0 Cardinals to 2-1 Rangers.  It all looks so straightforward when you look at the play-by-play record.  

In the context of the game and the series, it was anything but.

Two teams battling injuries as well as each other

The two teams have a day off to recover from the first two games before reconvening in Arlington for Game Three on Saturday (01.05 a.m. on Sunday for us in the UK).  Everything suggests that the series will remain close throughout, not least because these are two teams that are having to battle with injuries.

Josh Hamilton is clearly struggling with a painful injury that leaves him unable to use his lower half when he swings. Yadier Molina’s thumb injury, picked up behind the plate in Game One, makes him and everyone watching grimace each time he takes a swing.  Albert Pujols has a swolen ankle and Adrian Beltre doesn’t look right either.

No one is making excuses though.  The World Series is the culmination of a long, hard season and no player is 100 per cent healthy in October.  That’s part of what makes coming out on top in the Fall Classic such a rewarding achievement.


Finally, I’ve re-watched Elvis Andrus’s incredible diving grab and glove flip a number of times today and it doesn’t lose its impact on repeated viewing.

At the time it could have been not only a spectacular play, but a game-changing play.  The Cardinals would have taken a 1-0 lead had the inning-ending out not been recorded on the play. 

St. Louis went on to take the lead two innings later so you could argue that it didn’t ultimately change the course of the game (Andrus had a chance to make it a game-changer in the following half-inning, but grounded into an inning ending double-play); however that doesn’t detract at all from what was a tremendous piece of fielding by both Andrus and Kinsler.

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