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.

Video: Angels use eight pitchers in spring training no-hitter

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Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?

Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.

Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.