Tag:World Series
Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 8:45 pm
 

Pujols called hit-and-run, not La Russa

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Tony La Russa confirmed that Albert Pujols made the hit-and-run call in Game 5 Tuesday. Remember, this was the one where Mike Napoli threw Craig out by a country mile at second base, clearing the way for another intentional walk to Albert Pujols. At the time, the game was tied, 2-2.

Monday night, La Russa would only say the following about the mishap:

"It was a mix-up, and on our team nobody gets thrown under the bus. So it was a mix-up."

Some players in the locker room had told reporters that Pujols was the one who made the call, but La Russa wouldn't do so.

That fact had obviously been weighing heavily on La Russa, because upon entrance to the interview room in Busch Stadium Tuesday afternoon, he said he wanted to talk first (usually the manager sits down and waits for questions). And he had plenty to say, speaking for several minutes about Albert Pujols and the seventh-inning caught stealing play.

Evidently Pujols has the privilege to call hit-and-run on his own. Obviously La Russa wouldn't reveal the sign Pujols uses, but he used it Monday night in the seventh inning with Craig on first base and Alexi Ogando on the hill.

"I think it's important to be accurate and then everybody has to be fair as they want to be," La Russa said. "If you look at the history of baseball or sports, I don't care what your sport is, when a player shows that they really have a feel for the game, coaches give them a lot of well-earned ability to influence what goes on. So Albert has that ability. (He) picked a 1-0 pitch, Ogando threw it out of the strike zone, and it didn't work. But it has nothing to do with Albert having special privileges or not being as great as all of us have seen him be for years, and a lot of us that know him on a daily basis say he is."

World Series Coverage
As La Russa mentioned, Ogando threw the pitch well out of the strike zone and Pujols neglected to swing. Remember one of the fundamental parts of a hit-and-run is that the batter is required to swing.

"Well, they teach you to swing if you can get -- and he can reach a lot of pitches, but that one (would have) just wasted a strike," La Russa said in defense of his star. "There's no way he could have reached it, although you try to protect the runner the best you can."

Craig was then thrown out and Pujols was then given a free pass for the third time of the game. It's surprising someone with the bat control of Pujols wouldn't just attempt to foul the pitch off -- especially since he was sure to be intentionally walked once first base was open. Basically, it was pretty obvious Pujols just didn't think the entire situation through. If he had, he would have realized it was a bad idea.

As Craig entered the dugout, La Russa could be seen questioning Craig. The manager was simply figuring out who called the hit-and-run.

"I thought, holy smokes, sometimes you have a regular sign, sometimes you have a flash sign, and I thought, crap, did I put it on?" La Russa said. "Is that the normal hit-and-run? What was that? And he told me. So then I said, 'okay.' I was just glad I didn't put it on."

Now, it might appear La Russa contradicted what he said Monday night -- regarding not throwing people under the bus -- in telling the media that Pujols made the ill-advised call. We didn't get an answer on this front, but the best guess is La Russa discussed with Pujols that he was going to come clean while also defending Pujols. It wouldn't make any sense to alienate your star player before Game 6 of the World Series -- especially when said star is about to be a free agent.

La Russa also defended himself for allowing a star player to have the kind of leeway Pujols does during the World Series, specifically pointing to Ian Kinsler having a green light to steal bases -- which directly led to the Rangers winning Game 2.

So there you have it. Pujols made an ill-advised hit-and-run call while the bullpen phone messed up La Russa's plan for how to attack Mike Napoli. If nothing else, the combination of the bullpen phone snafu and this botched hit-and-run attempt have shown the Cardinals certainly haven't lost a step in the drama department.

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Posted on: October 25, 2011 7:09 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:13 pm
 

World Series Game 6: Something's gotta give



By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Busch Stadium, St. Louis. Rangers lead series, 3-2.

ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals are in a familiar position: Their backs are against the wall. For pretty much all of September the Cardinals were in "win every game" mode and then also trailed the Phillies two games to one in the NLDS. Thus far, they've come through every single time when they've had to. Will the magic happen again? If so, they'll win Games 6 and 7 in front of their hometown fans and bring home an 11th World Series title. And Game 6 starter Jaime Garcia has been here before.

"It feels the same way that it did the first playoff game that I pitched this year, same exact feeling," Garcia said, when asked about pitching in a do-or-die game. "Obviously this is the World Series, a little different, but to me personally, I try not to put extra pressure on myself or extra expectations. I'm just going to basically go out there and do my thing."

"Going through that process in the month of September, the last five or six starts that I made in the season, I kind of had the same mentality that I've had since the playoffs started."

World Series Coverage
But, in order to avoid elimination one more time, the Cardinals will have to beat the Rangers in two consecutive games -- something that hasn't happened to Texas since August. And they'll also have to beat Colby Lewis, who is 4-1 with a 2.22 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in seven career postseason starts. Of course, he was outdueled by Garcia in Game 2, which was eventually decided with a Cardinals' blown save.

Rangers Game 6 starter Colby Lewis has been here before, kind of. He was the pitcher for the clinching game against the Yankees in last season's ALCS.

"Well, you definitely think when you're in a kid you want to be in this position, be on this stage to go to the World Series," Lewis said. "I think just being in the situation that we were last year throughout the playoffs, you know, gives you more of an edge, more relaxation, that's for sure, because knowing what's expected or you know how to react to certain things."

Also, which series star will carry the offensive load? Mike Napoli and Albert Pujols are the obvious MVP candidates for the series right now; it only depends on which team wins.

Something has to give. Either the Rangers are going to lose two in a row or the Cardinals are going to finally be defeated. Whichever team survives will be the champion.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Garcia vs. Rangers:
Garcia thoroughly dominated the Rangers in Game 2, working seven shutout innings while giving up just three hits and one walk. He struck out seven. He looked every bit as masterful as the stat line suggests. That's the only time he's ever seen the Rangers, so no regular has more than three at-bats against him. Not surprisingly, no one has more than one hit against Garcia, either.

Lewis vs. Cardinals: Lewis went 6 2/3 innings in Game 2, allowing just four hits and one earned run. And remember, that one run scored after he was out of the game -- as Alexi Ogando had entered to face Allen Craig and gave up an RBI single for the second straight night. No expected Cardinals starters have seen Lewis more than four times except Lance Berkman, who is just 2-for-15 against Lewis.

LINEUPS

Rangers Cardinals
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Ian Kinsler 2B 1 Rafael Furcal SS
2 Elvis Andrus SS 2 Skip Schumaker CF
3 Josh Hamilton LF 3 Albert Pujols 1B
4 Michael Young 1B 4 Lance Berkman RF
5 Adrian Beltre 3B 5 Matt Holliday LF
6 Nelson Cruz RF 6 David Freese 3B
7 Mike Napoli C 7 Yadier Molina C
8 Craig Gentry CF 8 Nick Punto 2B
9 Colby Lewis RHP 9 Jaime Garcia LHP


NOTES

• The following starting pitchers will be available in relief for Game 6, per their managers' statements Wednesday: Derek Holland, C.J. Wilson (maybe, but if it goes to Game 7, "he certainly will be available for the seventh one," said Washington.), Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook (who had already been pitching out of the bullpen). Also, in an answer that was met with laughter, La Russa said the following when asked if Chris Carpenter was available in relief in Game 6: "No chance ... little chance."

• Nick Punto is 2-for-4 with a walk against Lewis.

Jon Jay has struggled mightily at the plate this postseason, as he's hitting just .157/.246/.196. In the World Series, he's 0-for-14. Thus, Skip Schumaker is getting the start in center.

• The World Series has been a 3-2 margin 61 previous times, and in 41 of those, the team with the 3-2 lead has gone on to win it all.

• Napoli has nine RBI so far in the series. The record for an entire World Series is 12, set by Bobby Richardson in the 1960 Fall Classic. With one more RBI, Napoli will tie Sandy Alomar Jr. and Yogi Berra for the most RBI by a catcher in the World Series. Also, no one has driven home at least nine since Alomar Jr. and Moises Alou both did so in 1997.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 6:15 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 6:18 pm
 

Game 5 ratings rout Monday Night Football

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Game 5 of the World Series and the Monday Night Football game between Baltimore and Jacksonville were close on the field, but the two head-to-head games weren't close on the Nielsen scoreboard.

Fox earned an 8.8/14 household rating/share for Game 5 -- the same as last year's clinching game, while ESPN has asked Nielsen to go back and count the hanging chads of its overnight rating because the 5.8 would be an all-time Monday Night Football low. The Jaguars defeated the Ravens 12-7 on Monday.

The Associated Press reports that Fox knocked off CBS in the ratings for the last week because of baseball, with three of the first four World Series games finishing in the top 10 for the last week. Only the Game 3 blowout wasn't in the top 10. Game 4 also beat the Sunday night NFL game on NBC and baseball is 12-1 in the ratings over the last 21 years when the World Series goes up against an NFL game in primetime.

Listen, I'm not naive and saying baseball is more popular than the almighty NFL in this country, there's no question the NFL is king. But it's just silly to hear things like even in the comments section of a baseball blog about how "nobody" is watching this World Series or that Dallas/Ft. Worth is a "small market" or some other such nonsense. Baseball is more of a regional sport, with regional allegiances playing into the ratings more than other sports, while the national obsession with betting and the NFL keeps its numbers high. Game 5 drew a 46.9/64 share in St. Louis and Dallas had a 40.0/58 share -- the highest ever local rating for a Rangers game and better than the ratings for every game of the NBA Finals featuring the Mavericks. Baseball has its problems, that's for sure, but the constant whining about ratings and who is or isn't watching the games is just getting old, tired and inaccurate.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 3:53 am
 

Odds in Rangers' favor of winning series

By C. Trent Rosecrans

With Monday's 4-2 victory in Game 5 of the World Series, the Rangers took a 3-2 lead in the series and take their own "happy flight" back to St. Louis, where Game 6 -- and Game 7, if necessary -- will take place Wednesday and Thursday.

So what's the chance of a Thursday game? Based on previous World Series, there's a 63 percent chance the Rangers will take Game 6 at Busch Stadium.

Our friend David Fung looks at the percentages of World Series titles after winning a certain number of games:

 

You can see more of Fung's work at fungraphs.tumblr.com and follow him on Twitter @cobradave.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:57 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 3:56 am
 

Transcript: La Russa's communication breakdown



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Tony La Russa's non-move in the eighth inning of the Cardinals' 4-2 loss was certainly baffling -- CBSSports.com senior writer Danny Knobler didn't understand why La Russa left Marc Rzepczynski in to face Mike Napoli, the Rangers didn't understand it and even as La Russa tried to explain it in his postgame news conference, people in the room still had trouble figuring out why the left-handed Rzepczynski was facing the right-handed Napoli.

So, if you aren't quite confused yet -- check out the entire transcript of La Russa's postgame news conference, even though it's not guaranteed to clear anything up (with the non-pertinent parts replaced): 

Q. Could you take us through the thought process leaving Rzepczynski in to pitch to Napoli.

La Russa: Well, what happened was that twice the bullpen didn't hear Motte's name. They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't get Motte. I looked up there and Motte wasn't going. So I called back for Motte and they got Lynn up. That's why he wasn't supposed to pitch today, so I wasn't going to let him throw that hitter. He just threw the warmups and walked him and Motte behind was ready. I don't know if it was noisy, probably real noisy. They just didn't hear the second time.

Q. (Inaudible).

La Russa: They heard "Rzepczynski" and they didn't hear "Motte", and when I called back I said "Motte", they heard "Lynn". So I went out there, wrong guy. He's not going to pitch today. I said, "Go back, get Motte ready. We'll walk the guy because I don't want Lynn to he is not supposed to pitch. I didn't want to hurt him. And then Motte came in. That's why -- it must be loud. I give the fans credit.

Q. Has that ever happened to you before where you had a call to the bullpen and guys didn't hear you right?

La Russa: Yeah, well, sometimes real loud, especially when some of the bullpens that are right amidst the fans and excitement. It happens in Philadelphia. It's hard to hear it there. So it's not unusual. Maybe we need to come up with some ear mikes or something.

Q. Just to be clear, if Motte was ready, he would have faced Napoli?

La Russa: Yeah.

Q. So you had no choice at that point

La Russa: He was warming up, so I said, "Get Motte up," and they heard "Lynn". But by the way, we had a chance with Rzepczynski's stuff to get Napoli the first pitch, and then he put a nice swing on a breaking ball.

Q. Not to be dense, but what's the sort of procedure in terms of when you guys have the phone call and call down there, who gets the word, and how do they convey it?

La Russa: The bullpen coach hears it, and like he heard "Lynn".

Q. Oh, he heard "Lynn"?

La Russa: Yeah, that's why Lynn got up, and I went out there. I thought it was Motte, and they were yelling at me as I went out. I didn't hear them. It wasn't Motte. So I saw Lynn, I went, oh, what are you doing here?

Q. On the telephone he didn't hear it?

La Russa: Yeah, when you say "Motte", they heard "Lynn". It wasn't supposed to be Lynn because he wasn't going to pitch today.

Q. I think this was brought up earlier but is there a problem when something like that can happen? Is there a better way to do it, bullpen phones in this day and age?

La Russa: Yeah, smoke signals from the dugout. There are times, like what happened in Philadelphia, the phone went out, and so we used cell phones, and then the Phillies brought down walkie talkies, and they fixed the phone. But that phone in a loud ballpark, it's not an unusual problem. I mean, it doesn't make it right, but...

Q. You said it happened twice?

La Russa: When Rzepczynski first got up, I mentioned Motte's game.

Q. So Motte ends up -- did you want both of them to get up?

La Russa: Motte was just going to go along because I was hoping that we'd get the left hander out and then we were not going to pitch to Napoli, and then we were going to go after Moreland. And then Motte would have been ready if they brought a pinch hitter.

Q. I guess this is a protocol question: If Lynn isn't available for this game, doesn't your bullpen coach know that?

La Russa: He's available in an emergency, but I wasn't going to use him. But if he hears "Lynn" and I'm the manager, what is he going to say

Q. That's why I was saying is there a protocol thing. Does he say "Tony, are you sure on Lynn?" Or something like that?

La Russa: I'm sure he's thinking that now, but when you hear something, he had a day off, but like I said, he wasn't going to pitch until Game 6. I saw the big fella come in, and I said, "Why are you here?" He came to pitch. "Walk the guy," because the next guy was going to pitch.

Q. The decision to pass Cruz, was that done with the idea thinking you had Motte for Napoli?

La Russa: Well, I was more thinking that we had a real good chance with Rzepczynski with a pinch hitter or not, and if we got an out or not we were going to pitch around Napoli and then go after the left hander. And if the worst happens, then we would have stalled and got Motte ready for Napoli. But he wasn't throwing,so we couldn't get him ready. That's when I called the second time and said "Motte" and they heard "Lynn".

Q. One more clarification: Is that conversation between (pitching coach Dave Duncan and and bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist)?

La Russa: It depends who makes the call. I made the call.

Q. So you made both calls?

La Russa: Today I did.

La Russa's counterpart, Ron Washington said the noise has hampered his ability to talk to the bullpen before at Rangers Ballpark. 

Q. Tony said that he wanted Motte in the game, bullpen coach heard "Lynn" on the phone. He said that's happened to him before, was just a complete mix up, bullpen coach didn't hear him correctly. Has that ever happened to you?

Washington: Yes, it has. It has. And you've got to do what you have to do.

In a bit of interesting timing, on Sunday the New York Times wrote a fascinating story on the dugout phone as the last bastion of the landline, and how it's one of the last places where cell phones aren't used, even though the Cubs and Reds have both experimented with cell phones in the past. Perhaps a text would have worked well -- except anyone who has their cell service through a certain company that rhymes with "AT&T" may scoff at the notion of getting a signal in a crowded ballpark.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:47 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

World Series Game 5
• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 2:24 am
 

Overheard: Notes, quotes from World Series Game 5



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers have moved ahead in the World Series, 3-2, and are just one game shy of their first World Series championship. Here are some of the post-game notes and quotes from Rangers Ballpark. Oh, and the picture of Adrian Beltre's home run from his knee is here just because it was funny. No other reason.

• Of the previous 41 World Series that entered Game 5 tied at two, the Game 5 winner went on to win the series 27 times (66 percent). So while it's definitely not over, odds and history are on the Rangers' side.

• "Pujols is going to put it in play, he's a good contact hitter, and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag." - Rangers catcher Mike Napoli said of the huge strike-him-out-throw-him-out play in the ninth, which seemed to ice the game.

• Remember the Cardinals' "happy flight" mantra? How they were on a huge streak of always flying either home or away coming off a victory. Well, both flights in this World Series are following losses. So now they're having sad flights.

• "It was just a mix up. It was a mix up and on our team, no one gets thrown under the bus, so it was just a mix up." - Cardinals manager Tony La Russa on Allen Craig's attempted stolen base with Albert Pujols at the plate in the seventh. Craig was thrown out by Napoli and then Pujols was intentionally walked. Had Craig made it, Pujols would have been intentionally walked, so it was obviously a mistake. But we know La Russa definitely didn't call for it.

C.J. Wilson walked 19 hitters this postseason, which ties Jaret Wright (1997, Indians) for the most ever. If Wilson comes back in relief in Game 7 -- which he wouldn't rule out when talking to reporters after Game 5 -- he'll have a good shot at dubious history.

• Monday was the birthday for both Arthur Rhodes (42) and Rafeal Furcal (34).

• The Cardinals set a record Monday night. They have made 65 pitching chances in the playoffs this year. The previous high was 62, established by the 2002 Giants. I have to say, I'm shocked Tony La Russa was behind this.

• "Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board," Napoli said of his huge two-RBI double. "I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap."

• "I don't know, I mean, not really," Napoli said when asked if he was surprised to see left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in the game to face him in the bottom of the eighth. "I had Mitch hitting behind me who was a lefty and I didn't really see anyone warming up in the bullpen.

• "I wanna be a complete player," Napoli said when asked about his defense. "I'm trying hard on the defensive side."

• Cowboys great Roger Staubach threw out the first pitch. Did he practice? "I did, yeah. I was throwing really good in practice, you know. But it's a little different on that rubber. It's a downhill slant. I played baseball, so I should have -- I threw it really hard. That was my problem. I probably should have just -- it was a little low. I mean, it wasn't a strike."

• Rangers president Nolan Ryan on Ron Washington's dugout antics: "It's pure. It's not a show. He gets so wrapped up into the game and is so in tune to what's happening that that's just him and his personality reacting to the situation, and the joy that those things bring to him shows."

Derek Holland loves Mario -- of the video game series -- so much so that he has a "Super Mario" balloon likeness in his locker. "He's really fragile, so I just leave him here all the time."

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:50 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 2:26 am
 

Grading Game 5 of the World Series



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers took a pivotal Game 5 of the series with a 4-2 victory Monday night. Let's hand out some grades yet again.

Mike Napoli was obviously an A, but we're already covered him ... twice. There's no need to go overboard with the love-fest, so I'm going off the board. True baseball fans have been winning all series, because it's been an amazing series; one of the best since the epic 2001 clash between the Yankees and Diamondbacks. So we'll give both teams an A for the entertainment so far. Speaking for myself only -- and I still consider myself a fan -- I'd like to thank both teams and tell them to keep it up. This is outstanding. We've had close games, huge hits, great defensive plays, a historic performance by Albert Pujols and a near-historic performance by Derek Holland. I just can't say enough about how great this series has been. And we may get two more games. We'll see, but it's hard to fathom this thing getting boring.

World Series Game 5
A huge reason the Rangers came into the series so hot was the bridge Alexi Ogando and Scott Feldman were providing to the eighth inning. But then both had been bad so far in the World Series -- pretty awful, in fact -- leaving a big question mark on what was supposed to be one of the Rangers' strengths. Maybe the rest provided by Holland in Game 4 helped, because while neither were sparkling Monday night, the decent outings had to be encouraging. Ogando allowed two hits and three walks in his inning, but two of those walks were intentional and his stuff looked more crisp. Feldman gave up a hit upon entering the game, but then got two big outs to end a threat, including a big strikeout.

The Rangers' defense has seemed a bit fickle this entire series, even if you can tell how much ability they have. The bad and good pretty much cancelled each other out Monday. David Murphy couldn't pick up a ball in the second, allowing Lance Berkman to advance to third. Then Berkman scored because Mitch Moreland botched what probably should have been a double-play ball. Of course, Murphy then made a spectacular diving catch to get out of the inning. Next inning, Moreland and C.J. Wilson teamed up to look like the Bad News Bears on a Furcal single, but a beautiful double play ended the inning. Later in the game, Elvis Andrus should have robbed Yadier Molina of a hit with an incredible across-the-body jump and throw, but Moreland couldn't dig the throw at first. But then in the seventh and the ninth, Napoli hosed Allen Craig at second on stolen base attempts.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa claims he called for "Motte" and not "Lynn" in the eighth inning, but, in the noise of the ballpark, the bullpen coach inadvertently heard "Lynn" and got the wrong guy up to throw. So La Russa didn't have the guy he wanted ready to face Napoli in that huge spot in the bottom of the eighth. He wanted Jason Motte, but Lance Lynn was in the bullpen. So La Russa kept left-hander Marc Rzepcyznski out there, who gave up the game-losing double. Considering Washington said "yes, I've had that happen before," about the phone gaffe, we'll grant La Russa a pass and only give him a D for the mishap. Still, isn't there something the Cardinals could have done there instead of letting a left-handed specialist face one of the most dangerous hitters in the lineup?

The Cardinals ability to take advantage of baserunners was abysmal. They left 12 men on base, including eight in scoring position. They also had Craig thrown out twice on stolen base attempts. Seven hits, nine walks and a hit-by-pitch ... and two runs is all you come up with? That's awful. Easiest F I've ever given. Matt Holliday, if I can single someone out, needs to bring a lot more to the table, or Pujols isn't going to see a pitch worth swinging at the rest of the series.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com