Friday, October 28, 2011

Roller Coaster of Emotion

I probably could summarize all eleven innings of game six with just one word: Wow!

Source: FanGraphs

FanGraphs chose a different, but equally fitting, word: Baseball!

I tried to explain the graph to a friend last night while I was still experiencing this rush. Picture the graph as a roller coaster. Hop in the car on the leftside of the graph and ride it out until you reach the end.

What a crazy ride.

I want to give this game the dignity it deserves as one of the most intense World Series games of all time and the best game I ever had the opportunity to watch on television. It would have been a close second if I actually was in attendance at Busch Stadium (like my girlfriend's brother, Sam, or Aaron Hooks from Cards Diaspora), but the position would still be reserved for the 1994 All Star game I saw with my father.

Jaime Garcia had a shaky start. He allowed the first three batters to reach base and surrendered a run to the Texas Rangers offense in the first inning. The St. Louis Cardinals quickly responded with a Lance Berkman two-run home run. The 2-1 lead would be very short-lived as Garcia allowed a second earned run in the second inning to tie the game.

Colby Lewis started shutting down the Cards offense one-by-one and Garcia finally seemed to settle down by throwing a scoreless third inning, but he was gone by the fourth in lieu of the TLR bullpen pitching parade (I need to coin that term).

The Cards stopped following lesson number two from my Survival Guide: "Stop making mistakes." Matt Holliday dropped a routine fly ball, Fernando Salas overthrew a force out at second base, and David Freese dropped an infield pop up. These three errors resulted in two unearned runs.

Luckily, the Rangers made a few blunders of their own. Michael Young bobbled a ground ball and Elvis Andrus tossed a ball wide of first base, which pulled Young off the bag. The Cards managed to tie the game with two unearned runs for themselves and exited the sixth inning 4-4.

Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz each homered in the top of the seventh, then scored once more thanks in part to a wild pitch by Octavio Dotel before finally getting out of the inning with the score 7-4.

Derek Holland entered the game as a reliever earlier during the sixth inning. Many thought his pitching had become infallible after pitching an 8.1 inning gem in game four, then 1.2 innings of solid relief in game six. Allen Craig changed their minds with a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth inning to bring the score to 7-5.

Everyone seemed depressed and morbid as Neftali Feliz entered the bottom of the ninth inning. He struck out the first batter he faced, then Albert Pujols came to the plate. The announcers mentioned, once again, this may be Pujol's last at bat as a Cardinal. He delivered with a double, his first and only hit of the World Series outside of game three. Berkman was intentionally walked and Craig struck out, which led to David Freese. He fell behind in the count to 1-2, then tripled to deep right field to tie the game. We move on to 10th!

Jason Motte remained in the game in the 10th for his second inning of relief. He retired the first batter he faced, then allowed a single, and Josh Hamilton swatted a home run to right field with the first pitch he saw. Motte retired the next two batters and exited the inning with a score of 9-7 as the potential losing pitcher.

Darren Oliver entered the game for the Rangers to face against several of the weakest Cardinals hitters. I was nervous. Daniel Descalso singled, Jon Jay singled, and Kyle Lohse hit the weirdest bunt I have ever seen that flew over Beltre's head to advance both runners. Scott Feldman relieved Oliver and Ryan Theriot grounded out, but it sent a run home. Albert came to the plate with a runner third base and two outs. I thought this could be his defining moment, then they walked him. Berkman responded with a clutch single to score the tying run. Onward to the 11th!

Jake Westbrook entered the 11th inning and allowed one single; otherwise, he was great. He provided the greatest WPA among all of the Cardinals pitchers used in the game and the score remained tied.

Freese returned to the plate in the bottom of the eleventh inning as the first batter to face Mark Lowe, the Rangers new relief pitcher. I could tell he was swinging for the fences after he nearly fell over for the first strike, so I decided to retrieve our secret weapon:

Rally "Squirrel"
Meet Harrison. He is our Rally Gerbil since no squirrels were within reach.

Freese worked the count to 3-2, then launched a game-winning and series-tying solo homer to almost dead center field measured at 428 feet. The Cardinals win, 10-9! The stadium erupted as he rounded the bases and was mobbed by his teammates at home plate who proceeded to tear his jersey off his body.

Harrison was rewarded with a pumpkin seed for being such a good luck charm.

David Freese takes a bow after his Game 6 heroics, via St. Louis Cardinals Facebook Fanpage
The World Series will be decided in game seven! Will the Cards take their 11th World Series title or will the Rangers earn their first?

No comments:

Post a Comment