By Jordan Kabialis
In a postseason that has already seen three game fives in the first round, an absolute display of power by Nelson Cruz an the ALCS and a hitting clinic put on by Albert Pujols in game 3, Game 6 of the World Series on Thursday night added itself to the list.
The Texas Rangers entered the night with a 3-2 series lead, searching for their first World Series title in franchise history. It was a pitching rematch of game 2, between Colby Lewis and Jaime Garcia.
The Rangers got off to a fast start, hitting three straight singles off of Garcia and jumping to a 1-0 lead. Lance Berkman responded in the bottom half, blasting a 2-run home run off Lewis, giving the Cardinals the lead. That lead would not stand for long as the Rangers came right back and tied the game in the 2nd.
After preventing the Rangers from scoring in the 3rd, Garcia was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom half of the inning, ending his night. The Rangers and Cardinals would then exchange runs in the 4th inning before Texas would eventually take a 4-3 lead in the 5th. However, the Cardinals fought back and tied the game at 4 in the bottom of the 6th.
Then came the 7th. Adrian Beltre led off the inning with a home run to deep right-center field, giving Texas the lead. Nelson Cruz followed with one of his own that landed in the third deck in left field. It was Cruz’s 8th home run of the Postseason, tying Barry Bonds and Carlos Beltran for most home runs in a single postseason.
The Rangers seemed to have the game in hand from that point on. Derek Holland, game 4’s winner, was dealing out of the bullpen until a hiccup in the 8th inning when he gave up a run and was replaced by Mike Adams. The Rangers would then enter the 9th inning with a 2-run lead and just 3 outs away from their first title.
Neftali Feliz entered the game with just one mission: get the next 3 outs and hoist the trophy. This proved to be easier said than done. After striking out Ryan Theriot to start the inning, arguably the greatest hitter of our time stepped to the plate in what could have been his last at bat as a Cardinal. Albert Pujols proceeded to hid a double to center, giving St. Louis a breath of life. Following Pujols was one of the best hitters of this Postseason in Lance Berkman, who was able to draw a one-out walk. After striking out Allen Craig, Feliz got two strikes on David Freese, who was hitless the night. With the Cardinals just one strike away from elimination, Freese hit a triple to deep right field, tying the game at 7, eventually sending game 6 to extras.
The Rangers seemed determined to rebound in the 10th and get back into position to win their first ever World Series. With one out in the 10th, Elvis Andrus singled, bringing Josh Hamilton to the plate. Hamilton, who has been dealing with a groin injury, was without a home run in this Postseason. Just as TV announcer Joe Buck was relaying this information to viewers, Hamilton hit a deep fly ball to right-center field that got over the wall, giving the Rangers a 9-7 lead.
With the Cardinals again down 2 runs with just 3 outs to go, Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay got the bottom of the 10th going with back-to-back singles. With the Cardinals out of bench players, pitcher Kyle Lohse got down a sacrifice bunt, moving both runners into scoring position. After conceding a run on a ground ball out by Theriot, the Rangers elected to intentionally walk Albert Pujols to pitch to Lance Berkman. Again the Rangers pitching staff was able to get two strikes on the hitter, leaving them one strike away from victory. However, the Cardinals refused to give up and Berkman tied the game with a single to center, making the Cardinals the first team in history to come back from two 2-run deficits in the 9th and 10th innings of a Postseason game.
The Cardinals bullpen was finally able to quiet the Rangers’ bats in the top of the 11th, needing just one run to force a game 7 and complete an epic comeback. It would be David Freese, who tied the game in the 9th with a 2-run triple, to lead it off for St. Louis. With a full count, Freese hit the ball high and deep into the St. Louis night, sending the Cardinals to a game 7. Freese’s home run was the first walk-off home run in a game 6 since Joe Carter’s in 1993 for the Blue Jays. It was also quite reminiscent of the one that Kirby Puckett hit for the Minnesota Twins in game 6 of the 1991 World Series, one made famous by the line, “We will see you tomorrow night”.
Baseball is a wonderful sport with a lot of history. It is also a game of fathers and sons. Kids grow up learning how to catch, throw and hit with their dads at their side. There have even been a few instances of fathers and sons playing together, like Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr.
It was a man by the name of Jack Buck who made that famous call following Kirby Puckett’s walk-off home run in the 1991 World Series. It only seemed fitting that twenty years later, in a game that will go down as one of the most exciting postseason games ever, that his son, Joe Buck, be able to make the exact same call.
As David Freese’s home run sailed onto the grass beyond the center field wall, Joe Buck quoted his father using the only line that is appropriate in such a situation, “We will see you tomorrow night.”