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.

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with left ankle injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.