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.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.