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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Game Day: Remembering a classic

Alex-Sharp

With temperatures increasing, the grass slowly becoming greener and the sun staying up later, spring is officially upon us.

There’s only one thing missing: baseball.

Last Thursday should’ve been opening day. I celebrated by sitting in a rocking chair on my front porch reminiscing about little league with a bag of sunflower seeds in one hand and a glove and ball in the other. It’s been tough without sports these past few weeks, but if there’s a silver lining, it’s that all the sports channels have been re-airing classic games, reminding us why we love sports so much.

In honor of baseball season, it’s time to throw it back to Game Six of the 2011 World Series between the Texas Rangers and Saint Louis Cardinals.

With the Rangers leading the series three games to two, the Cardinals were on the brink of elimination. The game was held on a cloudy 50 degree October night in front of an electric capacity crowd at Saint Louis’ Busch stadium. 

The Rangers led 7–4 going into the bottom of the ninth inning and called upon their hard-throwing closer Neftali Feliz to face the heart of the Cardinals' loaded lineup. Feliz began the inning with a strikeout of second baseman Ryan Theriot on a high 98 mph fastball.

Albert Pujols, who had hit .299 with 37 home runs in the regular season, came to the plate. Pujols had been held hitless by the Rangers since a monster five-hit three-homer performance in Game Three. Feliz delivered a first-pitch fastball low in the zone and Pujols turned on it, lining the ball into the gap in left center field for a stand-up double.

Cardinals cleanup man Lance Berkman came to the plate as the tying run and drew a four-pitch walk. After falling behind 2–0 to Allen Craig, Feliz rallied and struck him out looking on a nasty breaking ball.

With the Rangers one out away from their first World Series championship David Freese stepped into the batters box. It was his first career at-bat against the Rangers’ closer. Moments later the count was one ball two strikes and the Rangers were one strike away from the World Series trophy. Feliz delivered a fastball and Freese drilled it to right field. The ball snuck over the glove of Nelson Cruz and caromed off the wall. As Cruz chased after it, Pujols and Berkman crossed the plate, tying the game at seven. Feliz got Yadier Molina to fly to right and the game went into extras.

In the top of the 10th inning, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus singled to center off Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. Rangers star and reigning American League MVP Josh Hamilton dug in — and as Joe Buck noted on the broadcast “remember Hamilton has not gone deep yet in the postseason.” On the first pitch Hamilton ripped a homer to right field to give the Rangers a 9–7 lead. The Cardinals retired the rest of the Rangers without allowing any further damage. 

The Cardinals began the bottom of the 10th with consecutive singles from Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso before pitcher Kyle Lohse advanced them to second and third with a perfect sacrifice bunt. Theriot grounded out to third, scoring Descalso to make the score 9–8, while once again putting the Rangers an out away from the World Series championship.

The Rangers elected to intentionally walk Pujols, putting runners on first and second and bringing Berkman to the plate. Three pitches later the count was one ball and two strikes, and the Rangers were again just a strike away. Berkman laid off an inside fastball and whacked the next pitch into center field to score Jay, making the score 9–9.

After the Rangers failed to score off Cardinals reliever Jake Westrbook in the top of the 11th, Freese led off the bottom half of the inning. After working a full count against Rangers pitcher Mark Lowe, Freese crushed a fastball over the center field fence.

Joe Buck yelled “we will see you tomorrow,” and Busch Stadium went bananas.

Twice the Cardinals were down to their final out and twice they were down to their final strike. And they won.

“The way we’ve been playing lately you expect to come back like this. This is a good feeling and I’m pumped we’re playing tomorrow,” Freese said after the game. 

And in Game Seven, the Cardinals defeated the Rangers 6–2 to win the World Series.