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.
Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:
The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.
Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.
If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.
Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.
It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.
In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however, it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.
Or, more generously, good sense.