Hiya kiddies --been an age, it has. Quite some postseason we're having in baseball, eh --and we might as well count regular season Game #162 as part of that (and I meant to pop in here and say what a nice thing that I thought it was, the fact that we didn't have to go to any single-game tiebreakers at the end of the regular season).
Anyway, just as it all could have ended differently on 28 September had the outcome of a single pitch been different, I had to go and take a look at the pitch-by-pitch from Game Six of the World Series and see how many times Texas pitchers threw to Cardinals batters with the possibility of the Rangers winning the World Series riding on it.
Let's walk it thru --shall we?
In the bottom of the 9th, with the Cardinals trailing 7-5 and one out, Albert Pujols doubled. Lance Berkman stepped in, and a line drive stabbed on the infield with Albert strayed off of second base could have ended it (and I was kind of concerned about Albert needlessly straying off base).
So Berkman steps in and walks on four Neftali Feliz pitches to put runners at first and second and set up a groundball double play that would have ended it.
Next up was Allen Craig, who looked at two pitches outside of the zone, then took a called strike before fouling off a pair and then striking out looking at the next pitch. So that's 10 pitches that could have ended it.
Now with two out, David Freese steps in and takes a ball and then a strike, then swings and misses before tripling to right and driving in the two runs that tied the score. So by my count, that was 14 pitches thrown in the bottom of the 9th that could have ended the World Series.
Moving on to the bottom of the 10th, with the Cardinals again trailing by a pair after Josh Hamilton had made it 9-7 to the Rangers in the vistors' half of the inning, we saw Daniel Descalso and then Jon Jay reach safely with a pair of singles off of Darren Oliver. With the two of them standing at second and first, a triple play to end the game was at least possible, but of course it would have shocked the living hell out of me and anyone else with basic baseball knowledge had it happened.
Kyle Lohse stepped in against Oliver for the purpose of bunting and did the job, moving Descalso and Jay over on the second offering that he saw from Oliver. So let's up our running tally to 16 pitches that could have ended it --hey, he pops the thing up, the runners get caught off of their bases, and you never know.
So now with one out and the runners moved to third and second, up stepped Ryan Theriot --and again, a line drive speared on the infield with a runner strayed off base could have ended it. Theriot looked at strike one, fouled off a couple of pitches and then watched a ball thrown outside of the zone before grounding out and scoring Descalso from third base, with Jay remaining rooted to second. While again a double play to end it was unlikely, it could have happened, so that ups our running tally to 21.
Now there were two out with Jay representing the tying run at second base and Albert stepping in. Of course, he was issued a free pass, and we won't count those four pitches wide of the zone that sent Albert to first base and put a forceout in order at any base aside from home as Berkman came to bat.
Lance would foul off the first pitch that he saw from Oliver, look at ball one, foul off another and then take ball two before cuffing a single up the middle that plated Jay and leveled scores once again.
And so adding the five pitches that Berkman saw, the Rangers threw 26 pitches, to seven batters over two half-innings, that could have ended the World Series with themselves crowned champions.
Throwing out the two pitches thrown in the first Berkman at bat with Pujols the runner at second and one out in the 9th, the two that the bunting Lohse saw with two on and none out in the 10th and the five that the next man up Ryan Theriot saw on his way to grounding out with runners at second and third, that still leaves us with 17 pitches thrown to four batters over two half-innings that had a highly realistic chance of ending the game, whether by retiring the batter or a force play made with two out or by way of a groundball double play chance converted with one out.
And we get to do the whole thing over again tonite.