Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre turn in the Rangers’ play of the game

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It’s only fitting, as the two have been the Rangers’ best players in the World Series.

With the bases loaded, one out and the tying run having already touched home plate in the sixth, Mike Napoli and Adrian Beltre pulled off the perfect pickoff Thursday, retiring Matt Holliday at third in the Game 6 that the Rangers went on to lose in extra innings.

The Rangers entered the bottom of the sixth with a 4-3 lead, but with one out, the Cardinals loaded the bases on two grounders — one going for an infield single and the other turning into an error on Michael Young — and a walk. Alexi Ogando then replaced starter Colby Lewis and walked Yadier Molina on five pitches, tying the game.

It was at that point that Napoli, who suffered what initially looked like a season-ending ankle injury going into second base two innings earlier, took matters into his own hands. He fired down to third after an Ogando fastball and caught Holliday far enough off the base that Beltre was able to put his foot down and block the bag. Holliday dove right into Beltre’s foot and suffered a badly bruised finger that knocked him out of the game.

Ogando remained very shaky afterwards, so it seems very likely that the Cardinals would have taken the lead if not for the pickoff. A wild pitch advanced the two remaining runners, and Ogando loaded the bases again with a walk to light-hitting Nick Punto. Derek Holland took over at that point and preserved the tie by getting Jon Jay to hit a comebacker.

With 10 RBI in the series, including one tonight, Napoli will likely be World Series MVP should the Rangers prevail on Friday. Still, a big defensive highlight in a crucial situation added to his cause. He’s been one of baseball’s best players in his 129 games this season, and now everyone should know it.

Aaron Judge underwent left shoulder surgery

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
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The Yankees announced on Tuesday that outfielder Aaron Judge underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder, aiming to remove loose bodies and clean up cartilage. Judge is expected to be fully recovered by the time spring training begins in February.

Judge, 25, injured his shoulder on a slide in the second half, though he consistently denied that it bothered him. He slumped heavily, batting just .179 with seven home runs in 191 plate appearances between July 14 and August 31.

Judge still wound up taking home AL Rookie of the Year honors and finished second in AL Most Valuable Player Award balloting. Overall, he hit .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and 128 runs scored in 678 trips to the plate.