It looked bleak early.
Chris Carpenter, who had never started on three days’ rest before getting roughed up by the Phillies to start the NLDS nearly four weeks ago, managed to give up two first-inning runs despite a boneheaded move by Ian Kinsler, who got picked off first base after a leadoff single. Seemingly without his best fastball, he gave up a walk and back-to-back doubles before he retired a batter and eventually escaped the inning.
Who knew then that the entire rest of the game would belong to the Cardinals?
Game 6 hero David Freese delivered a game-tying two-run double in the bottom of the first, and Carpenter bounced back to pitch five scoreless frames as the Cardinals beat the Rangers 6-2 to claim an 11th World Series crown.
St. Louis took a 3-2 lead in the third on an Allen Craig homer. It was in the fifth, though, that the Rangers really gave the game away. A walk, a HBP and an intentional walk to David Freese loaded the bases and then a walk to Yadier Molina and the second HBP of the inning plated runs. An insurance run came in the seventh, as Molina singled in Lance Berkman to make it 6-2.
Carpenter, who received another chance to start on three days’ rest only because of Wednesday’s rainout, got better every inning. He escaped a jam with runners on the corners in the second and then allowed just a HBP and a single over the following four frames. He even talked his way into coming back out for the seventh, only to leave immediately after giving up a leadoff double.
The bullpen finished the job done from there. Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel pitched around the double in the seventh, Lance Lynn worked a perfect eighth and Jason Motte was sharp in the ninth.
The Rangers showed surprisingly little life after the first. Nelson Cruz hit their long drive of the night, a shot to left that may have snuck over the wall if not for a jumping Craig. Still, it only would have been a solo shot. Texas had just one baserunner during the final four innings.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.