I guess he didn’t have to leap.
A lot of people have written about how twice the Rangers were one pitch away from winning the 2011 World Series. But my friend Gar Ryness (better known as The Batting Stance Guy) pointed out an interesting fact.
They were an out from winning the World Series in back to back innings, but they weren’t one pitch away from winning twice.
They were one pitch away from winning the 2011 World Series 15 TIMES!
On 15 different occasions, a Ranger pitcher threw a pitch that could have clinched the World Series if a reasonable scenario took place.
In the 9th inning with one out and runners on first and second, Allen Craig came up where a ground ball could have turned into a World Series clinching double play.
Yeah both David Freese and Lance Berkman had their at bats go down to the final strike, but they could have popped up or grounded out on the first, second or third pitches.
And I am not coming up with outlandish “Line Drive Triple Play” scenarios nor counting the four balls thrown to Albert Pujols when he was intentionally walked in the 10th inning.
Remembering my brother in Curse of the Bambino dialing my uncle for each pitch the Red Sox could have clinched in 1986, I know all too well that the expectation of excitement builds with each pitch.
Rangers fans, I feel for you.
And let’s review all 15 pitches.
Bottom of 9th inning
Neftali Feliz Pitching
Texas 7, St. Louis 5
2 on, 1 out.
Batter Allen Craig
PITCH 1 – Low, 1 Ball 0 Strikes.
PITCH 2 – Low, 2 Balls 0 Strikes.
PITCH 3 – Called Strike, 2 Balls 1 Strike.
PITCH 4 – Lined Foul to left, 2 Balls 2 Strikes.
PITCH 5 – Popped foul behind the plate, 2 Balls 2 Strikes.
PITCH 6 – Called Third Strike
Batter David Freese
PITCH 7 – Low and Outside, 1 Ball 0 Strikes.
PITCH 8 – Called strike on inside corner, 1 Ball 1 Strike.
PITCH 9 – Swinging strike, 1 Ball 2 Strikes.
PITCH 10 – 2 Run Triple to Right Field to tie the Game
Bottom of 10th inning
TEXAS 9, ST. LOUIS 8
Scott Feldman pitching
2 on, 2 outs
Batter Lance Berkman
PITCH 11 – Fouled back out of play, 0 Balls 1 Strike.
PITCH 12 – Inside, 1 Ball 1 Strike.
PITCH 13 – Swinging strike, 1 Ball 2 Strikes.
PITCH 14 – Low, 2 Balls 2 Strikes.
PITCH 15 – RBI Single to Center Field to tie the Game.
After Berkman’s single, the Rangers were never a pitch away again.
Of the 15 pitches, 9 came with 2 outs, where a pop up in the infield or a grounder (or Nelson Cruz timing his leap correctly) would have made champs out of Texas.
Alas, 15 pitches weren’t enough.
The Game 6 classic was truly one of the greatest baseball games I ever saw in my life. It was insane. It was bonkers.
By the 6th inning with all the errors I thought “This is one nutty game.”
Then the home runs…
Then the Cardinals came back down to their last strike…
Then Hamilton homered…
Then the Cardinals came back down to their last strike AGAIN…
Then they won.
It was so obviously a classic. I was kind of shaking when the game was over. And I desperately wanted to talk to someone.
I called my dad. Now I had no idea if my dad was watching the game recorded.
“Dad, how much time did you leave at the end?”
“Normal length. Why did it go long?”
I paused. I knew there was NO WAY he was going to record the whole thing. He would be watching it and somewhere it would run out.
“Yeah dad. It went long.”
So I proceeded to tell my dad all about the game.
I could build the suspense and hear my dad saying “No!” or “Oh my god!” as I told him how the Cardinals kept creeping closer and coming back.
And then I described the finale.
My dad said “Wow.”
And then we started talking about the greatest World Series games we ever saw.
Clearly this was a top 5 game for me.
And my dad experienced it with me telling him the highlights by cell phone.
And in a wonderful way, I got to experience it again… but this time it was a gift to my dad.
And THAT is a Fall Classic.