On this date in franchise history, the Texas Rangers won Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, drawing them tantalizingly close to their first World Championship.
On Oct. 24, 2011, the Rangers and Cardinals played the final game of the series at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with the starters from Game 1—C. J. Wilson for the Rangers and Chris Carpenter for the Cardinals—back on the bump. That Game 1 saw Carpenter take the win and Wilson take the loss. This time, neither would figure in the decision.
St. Louis grabbed a 2-0 lead in the top of the second after Wilson walked Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman, both of whom later scored. Walks became a theme for the Rangers in this game, as the pitching staff surrendered nine of them. Though, to be fair, the Rangers intentionally walked Albert Pujols three times.
But, the Rangers worked their way around those walks and the Cardinals didn’t score again. In fact, St. Louis left 12 runners on base.
Mitch Moreland cut the lead in half with a solo home run in the bottom of the third. Adrián Beltré tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. Beltré's homer is remembered by fans not only for tying the game in a pivotal World Series moment, but also because he hit it from down on one knee.
Then came the eighth inning, with Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and the infamous miscommunication with his bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist.
Michael Young doubled to lead off the bottom of the eighth, and LaRussa called Lilliquist to get two relievers warmed up — Jason Motte and Marc Rzepczynski. Lilliquist later told reporters that he only heard LaRussa ask for Rzepczynski. So up went Rzepczynski.
LaRussa noticed and called Lilliquist again. LaRussa said he asked for Motte. Bizarrely, Lilliquist contended that LaRussa asked for future Rangers starter Lance Lynn. Lynn had been deemed unavailable by LaRussa after a long outing two nights before in Game 3.
Amidst all of this, LaRussa had his reliever on the mound, Octavio Dotel, intentionally walk Nelson Cruz. Left with no choice, LaRussa called on Rzepczynski, a left-hander, to face the left-handed David Murphy. The Rangers outfield won that battle, beating out a grounder to load the bases.
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LaRussa wanted Motte, but he wasn’t ready (that’s a funny story, too). So Rzepczynski faced Mike Napoli, who doubled and drove in Young and Cruz to make it a 4-2 game.
LaRussa had seen enough. He called the bullpen and asked for Motte. Oh, did we mention that Lynn came out of the bullpen instead? Thanks to this massive miscommunication, Lynn intentionally walked Ian Kinsler, and La Russa brought Motte in immediately. The Cardinals managed to get out of the inning without doing any more damage.
Neftalí Feliz closed it out for the Rangers in the ninth. Darren Oliver earned his first win of the World Series in relief for the Rangers. Dotel took the loss.
With the victory, the Rangers were just one win away from everything they had wanted since moving from Washington in 1972.
Also on this date …
Oct. 24, 1990: The Texas Rangers and the City of Arlington announce their intention to build what would become The Ballpark in Arlington.
Oct. 24, 2008: Shortstop Michael Young is named the Marvin Miller Man of the Year for Major League Baseball, the first Rangers player to win the honor. The award is voted on by the players and takes into account on-field and off-field performance.
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