World Series: Strategy backfires for Ron Washington, Rangers
But across the field the Texas Rangers were riding the emotional roller-coaster in the other direction. Twice they were one strike away from the first title in franchise history, only to see the Cardinals come back both times, setting the stage for David Freese's walkoff home run leading off Mark Lowe leading off the 11th.
"I understand that it's not over until you get the last out," a dejected Ranger Manager Ron Washington said. "And I was just sitting there praying that we'd get the last out and we didn't get it."
Washington may have inadvertently aided the Cardinal comeback by twice walking batters, having closer Neftali Feliz pitch around Lance Berkman with first base open and one out in the ninth and ordering Scott Feldman to pass Albert Pujols intentionally in the 10th. It's a strategy Washington has used repeatedly in the Series, with generally good results. But his luck ran out Thursday.
Free-agent-to-be Pujols, who looked as if he may be hitting in a Cardinal uniform for the last time, started the ninth-inning rally with a double to left-center, his first hit since a record-setting performance in Game 3. Berkman, a switch-hitter who already had two hits including a first-inning home run, then walked. That gave Feliz and the Rangers good matchups with right-hand-hitters Allen Craig and David Freese to follow.
And Feliz struck out Craig for the second out before Freese drove a two-strike pitch to the wall in the right-field corner to tie the game.
The Rangers regained the lead in the 10th on Josh Hamilton's two-run homer but the Cardinals came back again in the 10th. In the bottom of the inning Washington again intentionally walked a hitter -- this time it was Pujols -- and Berkman made him pay, tying the game again with a run-scoring single.
Afterward Washington was doing little second-guessing.
"We had the right people in the right spot and they beat us," he said. "You've got to give them credit. They fought. They came back and they won the ballgame."
-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis
Photo: Manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers stands on the mound during Game Six of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images.