As I tweeted last night, I came to watch World Series Game 3 and a softball game broke out. Cardinals scored in every inning but the second and third and mauled Texas to retake the series lead and home field advantage.
Three story lines stick out from last night’s action.
1. Ron Kulpa’s blown call. As you likely know by now, Holliday should have been out on the Mike Napoli tag. Kulpa blew it. There’s no other way to say it. Somewhat during, and definitely after the game, folks talked about how that call was critical even though the Cardinals won by 9.
And you know what? They’re right. If Harrison is pitching to Berkman with no one on and two out, he may have approached Lance differently. He may have attacked Freese differently. And the Cardinals may not have scored at all. However that’s not the end of the story. The bottom of the fourth unfolds differently too. Lohse had to sit for 25 minutes while watching the Cardinals score 4 runs. He came out and got absolutely hammered – home run, single, home run, single, pitching change. It seems to me that folks assure us the top of the fourth would have been different and the Cardinals maybe up 2-0 vice 5-0 after that inning, but they assume the bottom of the inning unfolds exactly as it did. I don’t see how you can say both.
Lohse may very well have gotten mauled in the home half of the fourth. He’s a ML starting pitcher, so sitting around during a long inning is not unfamiliar to him. But it might not have. And yes, the whole game is different.
You may know that Kulpa himself hails from St Louis. During and after the game this became the topic for some grumbling, and you can guess the context. Kulpa threw the game because he’s a STL native. What a bunch of crap. If Kupla was REALLY trying to throw the series for the Cardinals Ian Kinsler is out stealing second base in Game 2. That play was significantly closer than the play at first last night; Kulpa could have easily justified the call, and there would not have been much grumbling at all. Note that he didn’t, and he got the call right. No, I think Kulpa didn’t see the tag because Napoli’s glove caught Holliday on the back of the head and Kulpa just didn’t see it. So can we lay off the umpire?
To his credit, Ron Washington refused to blame the ump post-game for the meltdown, correctly noting that if Napoli makes the throw home accurately the Cardinals have the bases loaded, two out, and Theriot at the plate. Texas might have escaped that inning with a lot less damage.
2. Albert Pujols hits 3 HR. It is special because it is only the fourth time ever it has been done in the post-season. It is special because he is the first National League player to do it. It doesn’t matter what the game situation was. Plenty of guys have hit 3 HR in a regular season game. That fact alone doesn’t make it remarkable. The context, and the stage, do. Not to mention the 3-run shot he hit off Ogando deflated Ogando, the Rangers dugout, and sucked all the air out of Arlington. Before that swing I felt it was only a matter of time before Texas forged into the lead in Game 3. After that swing I knew Game 3 would go to St Louis.
Ruth is the only man to hit 3 HR in the World Series twice. Both times he did it against the Cardinals. Here’s the particulars:
- 1926 Game 4 (10/6/26) – first inning off Flint Rhem (1-0 NY)
- 1926 Game 4 – third inning, off Rhem (2-1 NY)
- 1926 Game 4 – sixth inning, off Hi Bell (9-4 NY).
- 1928 Game 4 (10/9/29) – fourth inning off Bill Sherdel (tied 1-1)
- 1928 Game 4 – seventh inning, off Sherdel (tied 2-2)
- 1928 Game 4 – eighth inning, off Pete Alexander (7-2 NY)
Both those games took place in St Louis.
Reggie hit 3 HR in the Bronx, 18 October 1977 (Game 6) against the Dodgers. His victims were Burt Hooton, Elias Sosa, and Charlie Hough. If you’re looking for a bridge from Ruth’s exploits to Pujols’, here’s my shot at it: Hooton’s from Texas. Sosa pitched for the Cardinals in 1975. Hough pitched for the Rangers from 1980-1990.
3. Will the Rangers Quit? Not bloody likely. St Louis absorbed a gut-punch of a loss in Game 2 and came back to score 16. I expect Texas will be just as resilient tonight. This series remains a long way from being over.
You know, St Louis is one ninth inning meltdown away from leading this Series 3-0. Just thought I’d point that out. And, for all of Texas’ offensive brilliance this year, they’ve led a World Series game for exactly one inning (that ninth inning in Game 2). I saw someone write that this Series was starting to look like some recent ones, in that the better team loses. I don’t see how anyone can say that seriously. Through 3 games, and setting all the managerial comparisons and nonsense aside, the Cardinals have out-played Texas. This series may still turn in Texas’ favor. However, I thought it was vital the Cardinals win Game 3. Lohse is by far their weakest starter of the 4 LaRussa has used in the post-season. Edwin Jackson is a power pitcher with movement; while not as accomplished or polished as Chris Carpenter, he has the same stuff in his arsenal. In a series as even as this one, the Cardinals ran out their weak link and won the game. The starting pitching edge tips back in the Cardinals favor, with Jackson/Carpenter/Garcia scheduled to go in the next 3 games.
Texas faces a must-win game, their first since trailing Tampa Bay 1-0 in the first round. Should be a good one tonight.