The game was decided in the top of the 1st inning. Cardinals’ starter Chris Carpenter gave up a fluke leadoff single to Ian Kinsler that was deflected off the glove of third baseman David Freese. The speedy Kinsler attempted to steal with Elvis Andrus at bat and was gunned down at second by Yadier Molina. Andrus hit a grounder that Albert Pujols had to go deep to get and his throw was far in front of Carpenter who was racing to cover first. Carpenter dove to catch the ball and slid into the bag slapping it with his right hand to make the put out. The play electrified the crowd and at that point I was confident that the pluck and determined Cardinals would win this game.
The game was dominated by pitching and defense, a far cry from the LCS when both the Rangers and Cardinals hammered their opponents. The Cardinals struck first in the bottom of the 4th inning when Rangers’ starter C J Wilson hit Albert Pujols to lead off the inning and gave up a double to Matt Holliday and a single to Lance Berkman which scored Pujols and Holliday to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead. That lead would only last a third of an inning when Carpenter gave up a single to Adrian Beltre and then struck out Nelson Cruz. He then gave up a home run to Mike Napoli which tied the game.
The Cardinals scored again in the bottom of the 6th inning when Freese doubled off of Wilson and advanced to 3rd on a wild pitch.Wilson stuck out Molina for the second out but then walked Nick Punto. That was it for Wilson who was relieved by Alexi Ogando who gave up a single to pinch hitter Allen Craig that scored Freese to give the Cardinals the lead. Freese’s hit gave him the record for consecutive games with a hit his 11th of this post season.
The Cardinals then used 5 relief pitchers to shut down the Rangers. The Rangers threatened in the top of the 7th getting men on first and second with one out. Tony LaRussa brought Marc Rzepczynski into the game to relieve Fernado Salas who had come on after Carpenter left the game. Rzepczynski struck out pinch hitters Craig Gentry and Esteban German to end the threat and the inning. Octavio Dotel relieved Rzepczynski in the 8th getting Kinsler and Andrus and LaRussa was back out to the mound to bring in 40 year old left hander Arthur Rhodes to face Josh Hamilton and LaRussa was right again as Hamilton flied out to center to end the inning.
This set the plate for the non-closer closer Jason Motte who put down Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz in order to close out the inning and get the save.
The game demonstrated the craftiness of LaRussa who found the right combination of pitchers and hitters to get the win. It was a very close game and LaRussa and his Cardinals scraped out the win against a very strong Rangers team.
The Rangers had 2 runs on 6 hits with no errors and the Cardinals 3 runs on 6 hits with no errors. Carpenter got the win and Motte the save while C J Wilson continued to have a rough post season taking the loss.
On Thursday Colby Lewis 14-10 4.40 ERA will face Jaime Garcia 13-7 3.56 ERA at Busch Stadium in game two.