Comedy of errors turns thriller as Cardinals win in 11 innings

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Five errors. Two wild pitches. The most obviously foreshadowed bunt into a double play in big-league history.

The Cardinals scored in the ninth, 10th and 11th innings to beat the Rangers 10-9 and send the World Series to a Game 7, but it wasn’t exactly a classic.

Sure, there were classic moments in Game 6, no doubt. David Freese’s game-tying triple with St. Louis down to its final strike in the bottom of the ninth, Josh Hamilton’s two-run shot in the 10th and Freese’s walkoff homer gave us the most thrilling conclusion to a World Series game in a decade. Also, the back-to-back homers from Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz in the seventh were huge, as was Mike Napoli’s stunning pickoff of Matt Holliday to help preserve a tie for the Rangers in the sixth.

The final three innings was baseball as exciting as it can be. The first eight, well, they were rather iffy.

Freese, with his eyes closed, having a popup go off his glove (fortunately for him, it didn’t hit him in the head afterwards) would have been a lasting image if not for the comeback. Holliday dropping an easy fly because he was worried Rafael Furcal would run into him. Michael Young botching two plays at first base for Texas.

And there were non-errors. Freese certainly should have handled a foul popup in the third, but he was afraid of running into the wall. Nelson Cruz, likewise, was scared of the wall in right when he came up short on Freese’s two-run triple in the ninth.

There was also a mental boner. Shortstop Elvis Andrus turned in one in the eighth that could have cost the Rangers the game prior to Freese’s heroics.

With one on and two out, Daniel Descalso hit a routine grounder to short in the eighth. The Rangers had him played to pull, so second baseman Ian Kinsler was shaded towards first. Still, Kinsler busted it over to second and would have retired Yadier Molina easily had Andrus made the throw there. Instead, Andrus looked to second, delayed and then threw a one-hopper to first too late to retire Descalso.

Jon Jay followed that was a single to right, loading the bases with the Cardinals down 7-5. The rally ended there, though. Furcal, maybe the easiest out of all of the ones the Cards have sent to the plate in the series, tapped the first pitch back to the mound.

The bunt/double play was even more gruesome. The Rangers had pitcher Colby Lewis coming up with runners on first and second and none out in the second. The Cards had no doubt that the bunt was coming and had Albert Pujols and Freese even with the mound on the pitch and charging from there. Lewis missed the first bunt attempt and then connected on the second for as routine of a double play as one will ever see in that situation.

Given the circumstances, manager Ron Washington should have just let him strike out. The Rangers got a run in the inning anyway, as Kinsler followed with an RBI double. They may well have added another one or two had Lewis made just one out instead of two.

Fortunately, the late-inning spectacle was glorious enough to erase some of the memories of the bad baseball that came before. And now both teams have a chance at redemption as we head into Game 7 on Friday.

Steven Souza Jr. exits game after injuring his hand on a hit by pitch

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Rays’ right fielder Steven Souza Jr. left Saturday’s game after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch from Blue Jays’ right-hander Joe Biagini in the seventh inning. The pitch appeared to hit the top of Souza Jr.’s hand, causing the outfielder to crumple at the plate and requiring assistance from assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker as he exited the field. Postgame reports from the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin revealed that Souza Jr. sustained a left hand contusion and is scheduled to undergo further evaluation on Sunday.

While the diagnosis isn’t as bad as it could be, it’s still a tough break for the right fielder, who missed 40 days of the 2015 season after sustaining a fracture in his left hand on another hit by pitch. The team has yet to announce any concrete timetable for Souza Jr.’s return, though manager Kevin Cash indicated that they’ll be taking things day to day for the time being.

Souza Jr. is batting .326/.398/.543 with four home runs and 17 RBI through 104 PA in 2017. He went 1-for-2 with a base hit and a walk prior to his departure during Saturday’s 4-1 loss.

Video: Brett Gardner goes deep for his first and second home runs of 2017

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It’s been a slow start to the season for Yankees’ outfielder Brett Gardner, who entered Saturday’s matinee against the Orioles with a .188/.316/.234 batting line, three doubles and five stolen bases in his first 76 PA of the year. That all changed in the first inning of Saturday’s game, when Gardner skied a leadoff home run to right field:

Orioles’ right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t find his footing against the Yankees in the second inning, either. Gardner returned for his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to lift New York 5-0 over Baltimore:

Measured at 411 feet in the right field bullpen, the left fielder’s blast marked the seventh home run hit by a Yankee this series. According to the club’s PR department, it’s also the first multi-home run game Gardner has recorded since September 2015. The Yankees currently lead the Orioles 7-0 through four innings.