Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:04 am

Hamilton says his HR was called, from above

ST. LOUIS -- Josh Hamilton hadn't homered in more than a month.

He's hurting. We all know that by now. He has a groin injury, maybe a sports hernia.

By this time next week, he may well be having surgery.

And when he came to the plate in the 10th inning of an incredible Game 6, he knew he was going to hit a home run.

"The Lord told me it was going to happen," Hamilton said. "He said, 'You haven't hit a home run in a while. You're going to hit one now.'

"Believe it if you want."

As you might have guessed, Hamilton believed it.

"It was probably the most relaxed, peaceful at-bat I've had in a long time," he said.

Did the Lord tell him what pitch Jason Motte would throw?

"No, but I kind of figured that out on my own," said Hamilton, who hit a 98 mph fastball.

Hamilton's home run put the Rangers ahead of the Cardinals, 9-7. It stood to be a World Series winner, until the Cards scored twice to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th.

But Hamilton said none of that was in the message he heard as he walked to the plate.

"It wasn't like a premonition, 'You're going to do this, and you're going to win,'" Hamilton said. "It was, 'You're going to do this -- period.'"

He heard it, and he did it.

"It was pretty cool, man," he said.

Believe it if you want.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 3:48 am

Rangers bullpen is fine; Cruz, Napoli may not be

ST. LOUIS -- Ron Washington said he'll have his full bullpen available for Game 7 of the World Series.

"I've got it all," the Rangers manager said after Thursday night's Game 6.

What about Derek Holland, the Game 4 winner who gave him two innings in Game 6?

"I've got it all," Washington repeated. "There's only one game left."

He has his bullpen, but will he have his catcher? Will he have his right fielder?

"We'll just wait and see," Washington said, about both catcher Mike Napoli and right fielder Nelson Cruz, who were hurt during Game 6.

Napoli had X-rays on his right ankle, which he hurt in the fourth inning Thursday (but stayed in the game). Cruz strained his right groin on his final at-bat, in the 11th inning, and left the game.

Both said they hope to play Friday.

"It's pretty sore," said Napoli, a possible World Series MVP if the Rangers win. "I'll try to do everything I can to play. We'll ice it, and keep it elevated."

Napoli was hurt when he went in awkwardly to second base on a Colby Lewis bunt. Napoli said he thought the Cardinals were throwing the ball to first base, which explains (sort of) why he didn't slide.

He played seven innings after getting hurt, was on base three more times and made the defensive play of the night when he picked Matt Holliday off third base in the sixth inning.

"He showed the type of warrior he is," Washington said. "If you hadn't seen him hurt the ankle, you wouldn't have even known it was hurt."

Washington used seven relievers Thursday, basically everyone he had available. But none of the relievers threw more than 23 pitches.

Washington explained his tougher decisions in Game 6.

He said he never planned to hit for Lewis in the fifth inning, and that he sent a pinch hitter out on deck as a decoy.

"I certainly wasn't ready to take Colby out," he said. "He was throwing the ball well."

He said he went to left-hander Darren Oliver in the 10th inning, rather than sticking with Feliz, because he felt good about the matchup.

"I thought the [Cardinal] lineup set up perfectly, with two lefties and the pitcher," he said.

And Washington said he didn't believe that the problem on David Freese's game-tying triple was that Cruz was playing too shallow in right field.

"Look at the replay, and you'll see he froze on the ball," Washington said. "If he gets back like he should, he catches it. When [Freese] hit it, I knew we had him. I thought it would be caught, for sure.

"It didn't work out that way."

Finally, in the top of the 11th, Washington said he originally planned to send Yorvit Torrealba up to hit for pitcher Scott Feldman, with two out and a runner on first. Right then, he was told that Cruz's groin injury would force him out of the game, and force the Rangers to put Esteban German in the outfield.

Rather than hit Torrealba and burn his final two position players, Washington sent German up to bat for Feldman instead. German grounded out, and minutes later, Freese won the game with his home run off Mark Lowe.

Posted on: October 28, 2011 12:40 am
Edited on: October 28, 2011 12:42 am

More Cardinal miracles, and on to Game 7

ST. LOUIS -- At this point, how would you ever think the Cardinals can lose?

Seriously, what would convince you? Down 10 runs with one out to go?

They were done in the regular season, they seemed done a few times in the playoffs and they sure seemed done in Game 6 of the World Series on Thursday night.

In the ninth inning. In the 10th inning.

If needed, they no doubt would have gone to the 100th inning, and they still wouldn't have lost.

They're not done. They're still not done.

They won Game 6 in the 11th inning on hometown kid David Freese's home run, and now we're off to Game 7 on Friday.

How did it happen? I'm sure I'm missing something, but here goes:

Down to their last strike in the ninth, the Cardinals got a two-run game-tying triple from Freese, off Rangers closer Neftali Feliz. Then, after Josh Hamilton's 10th-inning home run put the Rangers on the verge again, the Cardinals were down to their last strike again -- before Lance Berkman's single tied it again.


The ninth-inning rally began with an Albert Pujols double, his first hit since his historic three-homer Game 3. It was yet another in a series of possible Pujols final at-bats as a Cardinal in Busch Stadium, but it began the rally that helped ensure he'll play at least one more game.

And why not?

It's been a fantastic World Series. Thursday's game wasn't always pretty, with five errors, but it sure was exciting.

And now there will be a Game 7.

Posted on: October 26, 2011 7:16 pm

Washington: Win a trophy, challenge Cowboys

ST. LOUIS -- Ron Washington grew up in football country, in Louisiana. He works in football country, in Texas.

The Rangers manager has heard people say that baseball can never replace football in that part of the world.

"The only way it can get there," Washington said Wednesday, "we've got to bring home the World Series trophy."

The Rangers are a win away from doing that. They lead the World Series, three games to two, heading into Thursday's rain-delayed Game 6.

But who knows if even one World Series title would change anything in Texas.

"You think the Mavs are bigger than the Cowboys?" Michael Young asked. "The Mavs deserve a ton of credit. They've been on a great run for years, and they went out and beat a great Miami team to win a championship.

"The Cowboys are the top team for a reason, because they've got a ton of rings. It doesn't both us. To be honest, I'm a Cowboys fan. But I'm pretty sure if you asked our crowd in the Metroplex, they're pretty fired up about our baseball team right now."

There's no doubt about that. Whether or not it really was the Rangers Ballpark noise that led to the Cardinals' Game 5 bullpen blunders, there's no doubt that it was loud.

"They continue to raise the bar," Young said. "It was just crazy for every game."

As crazy as it would be for the Cowboys?

Not yet, maybe not ever. Or maybe a World Series trophy changes it.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 6:27 pm

Rainout edge, if any, goes to the Rangers

ST. LOUIS -- Will Chris Carpenter start for the Cardinals if the World Series goes to Game 7?

I'm not sure about that, but I do know that Alexi Ogando, Mike Adams and the rest of the strong Rangers bullpen is better rested and more prepared now that a rainout delayed Game 6 by a day.

"That's a huge advantage for us," Adams said Wednesday. "It can only help us. We've pitched a lot, and now [on Thursday], we'll be fully rested.

"Any day of rest, we'll take it."

And more rest for the talented but heavily worked Rangers pen makes the rainout a slight advantage for Texas, no matter whether it puts Carpenter in play for Game 7 or not.

The Rangers will also have starters Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson available out of the bullpen for Thursday's rescheduled Game 6, as well as for a Game 7, if needed, on Friday. Manager Ron Washington repeated Wednesday, for the third straight day, that Matt Harrison will remain his Game 7 starter.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, for the third straight day, was mum on his Game 7 plans. He said he discussed it with pitching coach Dave Duncan, but that they opted not to make a decision until after Game 6.

"[They'll] want a probable," La Russa said. "Bob Gibson's here, so we'll send Bob."

With the schedule pushed back a day, Carpenter becomes a possibility, but the Cardinals ace would be starting on three days' rest. He has started on short rest just once in his career, in Game 2 of this year's Division Series against the Phillies, and he allowed four runs in three innings.

The recent history of starters used on short rest isn't good.

"I was told by Carp he'd be ready to go," La Russa said.

It's possible that La Russa could stick with Game 3 starter Kyle Lohse as his starter for a Game 7, with Carpenter available at the first sign of trouble. By doing it that way, he could shorten the innings Carpenter would be asked to throw on short rest.

La Russa said Wednesday that he expects Game 4 starter Edwin Jackson to be available in the bullpen for Game 6. As for Carpenter's availability out of the bullpen Thursday, La Russa hedged.

"No chance," he said, before pausing and then adding, "little chance."

La Russa said that in his opinion, the rainout won't be a factor in who wins the World Series.

"I don't think it adds anything to our competitive chances, or theirs," he said.

If the Cardinals win Game 6, Washington will no doubt face another round of questions on starting Holland, who was brilliant in the Rangers' 4-0 Game 4 win. Don't expect Washington to make a change, though.

"Harrison is my seventh game pitcher," he said emphatically. "I am not changing the things we've done all year. That's why we're here."

Washington knows that as good as Holland looked on Sunday night, the 25-year-old left-hander's season was marked by inconsistency. Remember, this is a guy who threw a four-hit shutout on July 30 in Toronto, then followed it up five days later by getting knocked out in the second inning against the Indians.

Besides, Washington believes that the best thing a manager can do is to show his players a consistent front, and not be seen to be uncertain or panicky. He chose Harrison before the World Series began to start Games 3 and 7, and he won't change because Holland outpitched Harrison the first time around.

The Rangers players don't expect him to.

"Harry's been a massive part of our team," Michael Young said Wednesday. "He's earned it. But that's getting ahead of ourselves."

Up three games to two in the Series, the Rangers would obviously prefer that there isn't a Game 7.

They also would have preferred that Game 6 wasn't rained out. But if there's any advantage that comes from the rainout, I'm saying it goes to Texas -- Carpenter or no Carpenter.

Posted on: October 26, 2011 1:51 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 6:50 pm

After 51 years, the Rangers know how to wait

ST. LOUIS -- Wednesday was gray and gloomy at Busch Stadium. The weather forecast for Game 6 of the World Series? Ugly.

Kind of like most of the Rangers' franchise history.

They were born 51 years ago as the second Washington Senators, the second coming of a team that wasn't exactly successful the first time around. They moved to Texas just 11 years later, and played in a glorified minor-league ballpark for 22 years after that.

They never won a playoff series until last year, their 50th season. Their biggest-ever free agent signing was Alex Rodriguez, and it was basically a disaster.

They built this World Series team while in bankruptcy court.

"If people knew what has transpired over the last four years, it's an amazing story," franchise icon and club president Nolan Ryan said a few days back. "It's a phenomenal story."

And now that story includes a rainout that pushes back the Rangers' first-ever potential World Series clincher.


These guys already understand what it means to wait.

After all they've been through, one more day is hardly going to affect them.

"It's not like we're going to sit here and bite our nails," Michael Young said. "It's just a rainout."

Young, a Ranger since 2000, sets the tone in the Texas clubhouse. He knows what they've been through, knows what the organization has been through.

"I'm definitely appreciative of where we are," he said. "It's a lot of fun to be part of the group that has taken this organization where it hadn't been."

Young and the other Rangers players say that even they don't know the entire story of the bankruptcy, which forced Major League Baseball to basically take the team over from Tom Hicks, and then oversaw the sale to the ownership group that runs the Rangers now.

"I appreciate the bigger picture," manager Ron Washington said. "I really appreciate that Nolan Ryan and the guys, they kept it out of the clubhouse."

But even if they didn't know the details, the Rangers players couldn't escape everything going on around them.

"This organization has been through a lot," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It's my sixth year, and there's been lots of ups and downs just in my six years."

Part of that, Kinsler said, was simply changing the image of a franchise that had never won big. There was a sense of the Rangers as a team that could never pitch enough to win, or as a team that would fall apart after summers spent in the Texas heat.

"A lot of it was labeling," Kinsler said. "We were labeled as a team that just hit, a team in a hitters' park. The label was that we were so one-dimensional. To be able to turn that, change that, I think is huge."

They've changed it so much that they've been in the World Series two straight years, and that now they're within one win of a championship.

"We've been on quite a run," Kinsler said. "We've been the dominant team in the American League the last two seasons."

They've built something good, and they know it. They've built something that no one else could build with this franchise, through half a century, through Washington and then Texas.

They've built it, and now they'll wait one more day for Game 6, which stands as the biggest game this franchise has ever played.

They can wait another day.

And, oh, Nolan Ryan is right. It is a phenomenal story.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 1:40 pm
Edited on: October 25, 2011 4:54 pm

AL coach: La Russa 'noise' story could ring true

Maybe it really was the noise.

I'm still not sure I believe the story Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was selling about Monday night's mess of an eighth inning, but this morning I talked to an American League coach who believes it's entirely possible that the noise at Rangers Ballpark really did lead to the mixups I wrote about in Monday's column.

Here's why: According to the coach, Rangers Ballpark is the only one in the American League where you can't tell from the visitors' dugout who is warming up in the visitors' bullpen. In other parks where the bullpen is hidden (such as Cleveland's Progressive Field), there is a television in the dugout which allows a manager to see his bullpen.

The coach agreed that Rangers Ballpark can get loud enough to make it hard to hear on the bullpen phone. He said that when his team gets in a situation like that, he always has the bullpen coach repeat back the instructions, to make sure the message got through.

"I'd say 'Rzepczynski and Motte,' and then have them say, 'OK, Rzepczynski and Motte,'" said the coach, who preferred that his name not be used.

Another AL coach said the same thing, although he was somewhat less willing to accept La Russa's explanation.

Even with all that, it's still hard to understand why La Russa, the master of stalling to get a pitcher ready, made no attempt at all to waste enough time to get Jason Motte ready to face Mike Napoli. And it's hard to understand how the Cardinals could have a second communication mixup so soon after the first one.

If you already know there was a problem, don't you make absolutely sure the next time?

I'm still not sold. But to at least one AL coach who has worked at Rangers Ballpark, there's a chance the story is true.

Posted on: October 24, 2011 11:40 pm

Rangers win a wild Game 5, lead World Series 3-2

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Game 5 is where it's decided, right?

That's how it feels, when you go through four games and the World Series is tied. Game 5 is where it turns.

And that means this World Series just turned in favor of the Rangers, who beat the Cardinals in Monday night's Game 5 to take a three games to two lead.

That means it just turned in favor of Mike Napoli, whose two-run double broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning. It just turned in favor of Adrian Beltre, whose home run off Chris Carpenter tied the game in the sixth.

And it just turned in favor of Ron Washington, the Rangers manager who announced Monday afternoon that "I'm not as dumb as people think I am."

Washington's decision to break up the left-handed hitters at the bottom of his lineup got him the eighth-inning matchup of Napoli against Cardinals left-hander Marc Rzepczynski.

It got him a Game 5 win, which means everything.

Except when it doesn't.

Six of the last nine times a World Series was tied at two wins apiece, the team that lost Game 5 went on to win the title.

Overall, the numbers say just what you'd think, because 27 of 42 times that a World Series was tied 2-2 (65.9 percent), the team that won Game 5 won the title.

Whatever you think it means, the Rangers are now within one win of their first World Series title.

They got there, in part, by not letting Albert Pujols beat them in Game 5. And they did that, in large part, because Washington ordered him intentionally walked him three times.

The only other players to be intentionally walked three times in a World Series game were Barry Bonds, in Game 4 in 2002, and Rudy York, in Game 5 in 1946.

Bonds' Giants and York's Red Sox won those games.

Each of Pujols' intentional walks led to the Cardinals not scoring in the inning, in part because Matt Holliday's struggles continued. Holliday grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third, and also grounded out when Washington put Pujols on first to load the bases with two out in the fifth.

Then, in the seventh inning, Allen Craig was thrown out trying to steal, presumably after misreading a sign. Washington followed that by intentionally walking Pujols with two out and the bases empty.

Washington walked the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera with the bases empty in the American League Championship Series, in the inning that ended with Nelson Cruz's great throw to the plate.

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