Home MLB World Series 2011 Game Four: Holland’s gem levels the series

World Series 2011 Game Four: Holland’s gem levels the series

by Matt Smith

The Texas Rangers’ manager Ron Washington has his own unique phrase, immortalized on many a t-shirt, that sums up the wonderfully maddening nature of the sport.

‘That’s the way baseball go’

Grammar sticklers may take issue with it, but it seems perfect to me. Five short words that encapsulate the idiosyncrasies of the game. 

You could call it the baseball equivalent of football’s ‘it’s a funny old game’.

It’s a phrase that often seems appropriate in both victory and defeat, indeed the fine line between the two is partly what the phrase is about. Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don’t.

One day you get an absolute shellacking, the very next day your starting pitcher shuts down the same batting lineup over 8.1 innings.

Yes, that’s the way baseball go.

The Texas Rangers tied the 2011 World Series at 2-2 with a 4-0 victory in Game Four in the early hours of Monday morning UK time. 

Game Three lasted just over four hours and, great as it was to witness Albert Pujols’ three homer night, it was a long four hours for anyone not wearing Cardinal red.  Still suffering the effects of a slim night’s sleep, I was hoping for a return to the crisply-played action of the first two games of the series.

Derek Holland granted me that wish in emphatic style.  He pitched a gem, silencing the same bats that had silenced Rangers Ballpark by making so much noise in Game Three.  Lance Berkman managed two hits off him, but Holland no-hit the rest of the lineup until he reluctantly left the mound with one out in the ninth inning.

It was the second time that we saw Washington and his pitcher engaged in a long discussion. 

Watching the pep talk Washington gave Holland prior to the game was a captivating moment.  This was a very important game and the biggest moment of Holland’s career so far.  Washington was getting his starter focused on what he needed to do while, as much through his body language as anything, showing that he had his full support.  It had a cinematic quality to it, but Washington isn’t the sort to do things for show. 

The message you get from all of the Rangers, reasserted by Holland after Game Four, is that their manager cares about them and will do all he can to help them be successful.

It made me think that it might just be Holland’s time to turn his potential into a big performance on the biggest stage of all.

And that’s exactly what he did.

If only …

This is a World Series of conflicting emotions for me.  My Oakland A’s allegiance naturally makes me want to see our AL West rivals falter, yet I would be delighted to see Ron Washington winning a championship.

The former A’s coach was a favourite of players and fans alike during his time in Oakland and many wanted  him to become the A’s manager when Ken Macha was fired following the 2006 season.  Instead, General Manager Billy Beane appointed Bob Geren.

Excuse me while I go and kick something.  Again.

Game Five

Game Five begins at 1.05 a.m. on Tuesday and it really doesn’t need me to hype it up.  With the series tied 2-2, Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson take to the mound in a re-match of Game One.

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