2012 Bowman Gold #36 Lance Berkman
Great Moments in Cardinals History
Busch Stadium. St.Louis, Missouri
October 27, 2011
The Cardinals trailed the Texas Rangers three games to two going into Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The Rangers got out to an early lead in the top of the first inning on a single from Josh Hamilton that scored Ian Kinsler. The Cardinals snatched the lead back in the bottom-half of the inning when Lance Berkman hit a two-run, two-out homer off Rangers starting pitcher Colby Lewis.
The top of the second inning came and went with the Rangers scoring another run on a ground rule double from Ian Kinsler that scored Craig Gentry from second base. The Cardinals went away quietly in the bottom of the inning and the score remained tied 2-2 until the Rangers came up in the top of the 4th.
After nine straight batters were sat down between the two teams, Nelson Cruz led off the top of the fourth inning with a flyball to left field. It was almost certainly the first out of the inning, but Matt Holliday misplayed the ball and Cruz reached second base on the error. Mike Napoli took his place at the plate and singled to right field, scoring Cruz. The Rangers gave the Cardinals another scare in the inning when Cardinals pitcher Fernando Salas made a bad throw to first base on a bunt off the bat of Colby Lewis. So often errors made lead to runs scored especially when the opposing pitcher is involved, but the Cardinals defense held up and retired the last two batters without any more damage being done. They headed into the bottom of the fourth trailing the Rangers, 3-2.
The Cardinals answered in the bottom of the fourth when Berkman reached first base on an error by Rangers first baseman Michael Young. He advanced to second base on a walk to Matt Holliday and to third base on a ground out to second by David Freese. Yadier Molina advanced to the plate with Berkman on third base and Freese at first base. Yadi hit a chopper to third baseman Adrian Beltre whose only play was to get the force-out at first. Berkman scored, tying the game at three runs apiece.
The top of the fifth inning began with another Cardinals error; this time from shortstop Rafael Furcal which allowed Josh Hamilton to reach first base. Michael Young hit a line drive to left field that allowed Hamilton to score from first. The Rangers took the lead, 4-3. After that, the bats went quiet on both sides until the bottom of the sixth inning.
Albert Pujols led off the bottom of the sixth with a strikeout. He dropped to 0-3 at the plate for the game. The Cardinals big bat had been retired, but that didn't discourage Berkman who legged out a groundball to third for a single. Matt Holliday hit a ground ball between first and second. First baseman Michael Young fielded the grounder, but made an errant throw to the bag that allowed Holliday to reach safely and Berkman to advance to second. The errors took their toll on Colby Lewis and he walked David Freese to load the bases. Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled the plug on Lewis and gave the ball to Alexi Ogando.Ogando had been nearly un-hittable during the 2011 postseason, but the Cardinals didn't need a hit to tie the game. Ogando walked the next batter, Yadier Molina, and Berkman scored. Nick Punto advanced to the plate with the one out, the bases loaded and the score tied, 4-4. Mike Napoli helped his pitcher by picking off Matt Holliday at third base on a throw from the plate for the second out. Rather than getting the final out, Ogando threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners and then walked Punto to load the bases once again. Ron Washington was beside himself. Derek Holland received the call from the bullpen to finish out the inning. He did just that when Jon Jay grounded a ball back to the mound and Holland made the throw to first for the final out.
Lance Lynn took the mound for the Cardinals in the top of the seventh, looking to shut the Rangers down and give his team a chance to take the lead. What Lynn,the Cardinals, and Cardinals fans wanted couldn't have been farther from what actually happened. Adrian Beltre led off the seventh inning with a home run to right-center field. Nelson Cruz advanced to the plate and hit a solo home run. The Rangers led 6-4. After getting a quick strikeout from Mike Napoli, Lynn gave up a single to David Murphy. With a man on first and one out, Rangers pitcher Derek Holland laid down a sacrifice bunt that turned into a force out of Murphy at second base. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa had seen enough from his young pitcher, replacing Lynn with the veteran reliever, Octavio Dotel. No sooner than Dotel began his work, he threw a wild pitch that allowed Holland to move to second base. With two outs and Holland on second, Ian Kinsler grounded up the middle and the runner scored from second.
The Cardinals trailed the Rangers, 7-4, going into the bottom of the seventh. Although an unfavorable situation, Cardinals fans were optimistic since the top of the lineup was due to bat. Their hopes were dashed when Holland retired Rafael Furcal, Ryan Theriot, and Albert Pujols in order. The Cardinals chances seemed bleak moving into the eighth inning, down three runs and their best player, Albert Pujols, hitless with little chance to bat again.
The Rangers were unable to increase their lead in the top of the eighth inning, but at the time it didn't seem like they needed to. Allen Craig made some noise in the bottom half of the inning with a solo home run, but the Rangers went into the bottom of the ninth with a two-run lead, three outs away from a World Series championship, and with their lights-out closer, Neftali Feliz, on the mound.
Feliz earned a quick strikeout against Ryan Theriot to lead off the inning and Albert Pujols stepped into the batter's box. Refusing to be held hitless for the game, Albert lined a double to center field. The Rangers set up the double play by walking Berkman, but Allen Craig couldn't touch the ball and struck out. Down to their last out, the situation seemed grim for the St. Louis Cardinals, With Pujols at second and Berkman at first, David Freese set his sights on being a hero and walked to the plate. Holland delivered a pitch away and Freese went with it, hitting a triple to right field, scoring Pujols and Berkman, and tying the game at seven each. But, the Cardinals were unable to get the walk-off winner that they were looking for.
The game now in extra innings, the Rangers were determined to finish off the tenacious Cardinals. Elvis Andrus singled to center field. The Rangers star, Josh Hamilton, strode to the plate, bat in hand. All too many times we've heard the story of the mighty Casey and how there was no joy in Mudville, but not on this occasion. Hamilton blasted a two-run shot to right-center field and the Rangers regained the lead, 9-7. It seemed the Cardinals were finished as the game went into the bottom of the tenth inning.
Former Cardinals pitcher, Darren Oliver, took the mound for the Rangers. The Cardinals got two runners on when Daniel Descalso singled to right field and Jon Jay singled to left field. The Cardinals made the statement that they weren't going to go quietly. Kyle Lohse laid down a sacrifice bunt that advanced the runners. With one out and runners in scoring position, Ron Washington made another pitching change. Scott Feldman took the mound and Ryan Theriot eyed him from the batter's box. Feldman caused Theriot to ground out to third base, but Descalso scored on the play. The Rangers lead was down to one run and the Cardinals were down to their last out, but Albert Pujols was in the batter's box. Unwilling to let Albert beat them, the Rangers intentionally walked him. With two outs and runners at first and second, Lance Berkman dug in and waited for his pitch. It came and Berkman lined a single to center field. The Cardinals tied the game, 9-9, but once again, failed to get the walk-off winner that they needed.
Crafty veteran, Jake Westbrook, took the mound and stifled the Rangers hitters in the top of the eleventh. It seemed that the Cardinals needed to make their move if they were going to have a chance at winning the game.
Mark Lowe was sent out to face the Cardinals in the eleventh. He faced one batter. On a pitch up and over the plate, David Freese blasted a home run to center field. In a game full of heroic comebacks off hits from Freese and Berkman, Freese hit the walk-off winner.