On this date in franchise history, the Texas Rangers stood on the precipice of team history, only to have it wrested away from them — not once, but twice.
On Oct. 27, 2011, the Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals played Game 6 of the World Series. Weather delayed the game by a full day, but the Game 2 starters took the hill again: Cardinals starter Jaime García and Rangers starter Colby Lewis.
After six innings the game was tied, 4-4. In the seventh inning, the Rangers broke the game open. The Cardinals sent Lance Lynn to the hill in relief and he gave up back-to-back home runs by Adrián Beltré and Nelson Cruz. Ian Kinsler drove in another run later in the frame to put the Rangers up 7-4.
The cushion looked manageable for the Rangers, even after pinch-hitter Allen Craig hit a solo home run in the eighth for St. Louis to cut the lead to 7-5. Neftalí Feliz came in for the bottom of the ninth. He had already saved two games in the series for Texas, and had never blown a save opportunity in a postseason game.
Albert Pujols hit a one-out double. Feliz then walked Lance Berkman and the Cardinals had life. Feliz then struck out Craig and the Rangers were one out away. Up came David Freese.
Freese was down to his final strike and hit a deep fly ball to right field that got past Cruz at the wall. Freese’s triple emptied the bases and tied the game. Feliz then got the Rangers out of the inning.
Then it came down to extra innings. The Rangers should have been shell-shocked giving up that kind of lead. Instead, Elvis Andrus singled and Josh Hamilton hit a towering home run to center field off Cardinals reliever Jason Motte. The Rangers were up once again, 9-7.
For the bottom of the 10th, manager Ron Washington turned to savvy veteran Darren Oliver, who had claimed the victory in Game 5. But things got away from him. Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay hit back-to-back singles, and the tying run was aboard again. Pitcher Kyle Lohse bunted to move the runners. Washington then turned to Scott Feldman. He induced a groundout by Ryan Theriot, and while it scored Descalso from third, the Rangers still had a one-run lead. Feldman intentionally walked Pujols. There were two out when Lance Berkman came to the plate.
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Feldman and Berkman fought to a 2-2 count. For the second time in as many innings, the Rangers were one strike away from their first World Series championship.
This time, Berkman singled and scored Jay to tie the game at 9-9. For the second time, the Rangers were one strike away and failed to clinch the title.
In the 11th, the Rangers batting order ran out of magic. The Cardinals, meanwhile, won the game on David Freese’s home run to center field, forcing a Game 7. The Cardinals prevailed in the deciding seventh game, leaving the Rangers and their fans without a World Series title despite being so close.
Also on this date …
Oct. 27, 2003: Jon Daniels is promoted to director of baseball operations. The Rangers had hired him in 2001 as a baseball operation assistant.
Oct. 27, 2010: The Texas Rangers played their first World Series game in team history, as they faced the San Francisco Giants in Game 1. The Rangers flew their team employees to San Francisco for the game. San Francisco started Tim Lincecum and Texas started Cliff Lee, but the game was all about offense, as the Giants won, 11-7.
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