Before the champagne showers, before the MVP is named, before the Commissioner's trophy is awarded, there are games to play. This year, there were seven of them. The Fall Classic was full of wild finishes and huge surprises. As we embark on the long offseason, revisit the greatest moments of the 2011 World Series.
I was here first!
After a great throw from Cards catcher Yadier Molina, it looked like Rafael Furcal had Ian Kinsler caught stealing in the ninth inning of Game 2. But Kinsler got a great jump on pitcher Jason Motte and stole second ahead of the tag, symbolizing the Rangers aggressiveness and daring. Kinsler's run later in the inning tied the game 1-1.
St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig hit a solo home run in the third inning of Game 7 in St. Louis to give the Cards the go-ahead run. He also hit a home run in the Cards' 16-7 Game 3 rout of the Rangers.
First-base umpire Ron Kulpa made an egregiously bad call in the fourth inning of Game 3. With Albert Pujols on first and none out, Matt Holliday hit a routine grounder to short. Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus fielded it cleanly and tossed to Ian Kinsler for the force at second, who then threw to Mike Napoli at first. It should’ve ended as a double play with the bases empty, but Kulpa called Holliday safe at first. The score was still 1-0 Cardinals when Kulpa blew the call. Thanks to the Cards' offensive explosion, they won the game 16-7 and Kulpa's call was largely forgotten.
In Game 4, after three straight sub-par postseason starts, Rangers starter Derek Holland came within two outs of pitching the first shutout by an American League pitcher in the World Series since Jack Morris’ legendary 10-inning performance in Game 7 of the 1991 classic. Holland allowed the Cardinals just two hits and two walks in 8 1/3 innings, and the Series tied at two games each.
Texas Rangers' Josh Hamilton hit a two-run home run off a pitch by St. Louis Cardinals' Jason Motte during the 10th inning of Game 6 to put the Rangers up 9-7. The Cards, down to their last strike twice, came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th. Hamilton also hit a key sac fly in Game 2 to score Ian Kinsler in the ninth inning and allow Elvis Andrus to advance to third base after tagging up. Andrus scored one batter later on a sacrifice fly from Michael Young, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Hamilton was hobbled by sports hernia but still contributed throughout the postseason.
Given a chance to pitch by a Game 6 rainout and picked by La Russa earlier in the day to start on three days' rest, Carpenter and the tireless St. Louis bullpen closed out the Series. Carpenter pitched six gutsy innings for the Game 7 win. He also won Game 1.
Rangers Mike Napoli, playing first base in Game 3, committed a throwing error in the rout, allowing the Cardinals to score two runs. But in the sixth inning of Game 4's improbable pitchers’ duel, Napoli came to the plate with men on first and second. He hit it 392 feet into the left-field seats for a 4-0 lead. Napoli also hit a two-run double in the eighth inning of Game 5 to give Texas a 4-2 lead it would not relinquish. It was the second consecutive night of heroics for Napoli, an unexpected postseason hero for the Rangers.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made some bizarre eighth-inning bullpen moves in Game 5 — and followed them up with even more bizarre explanations. La Russa said he twice called for Jason Motte, and neither time did bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist hear him properly over the phone. The first snafu led to Mike Napoli’s go-ahead, two-run, bases-loaded double. The second produced righty Lance Lynn, who wasn’t even supposed to pitch. La Russa said that when he got to the mound, he asked Lynn, “Oh, what are you doing here?”
New Mr. October
Albert Pujols had a historic night in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series, socking three homers (tying the World Series record set by Babe Ruth and matched by Reggie Jackson) and going 5-for-6 with six RBI (tying a World Series record). The St. Louis slugger also had 14 total bases (a World Series record) to lead the Cards to a 16-7 rout of the Rangers.
David Freese capped an epic Game 6 with a walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning. Freese's solo bomb to center gave him his third RBI of the night and forced Game 7. The blast was Freese's second monster hit of the game, as he had already knocked a two-strike, two-out, two-run triple off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz that tied the score at 7 apiece in the 9th inning. Freese came back in Game 7 with a double that scored two runs and tied the game in the first inning.