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Kinsler Saves Series, Ogando

By bullpenbrian at 10.21.2011 Leave a comment.

Ian Kinsler(notes) #5 of the Texas Rangers steals second base ahead of the tag by Rafael Furcal(notes) #15 of the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning during Game Two of the MLB World Series at Busch Stadium on October 20, 2011 in St Louis, Missouri

“It wasn’t a Series-saving rally, but it was huge.” -Ian Kinsler

Sorry Charlie, but I couldn’t disagree more!

Of the 50 World Series that began 2-0, the team having won the first two games has gone on to win the series 40 times. That’s good for 80-percent.

So it’s hard to believe Texas would’ve rebounded from those long odds, even with the series shifting to Arlington for Game 3.

Thankfully, for those of us rooting for the Rangers, it’s still a winnable series due to a dramatic, and historic, ninth inning comeback–thanks in large part to Kinsler’s leadoff single and clutch stolen base to ignite the top of the ninth inning.

MORE KINSLER: He’s hands-down the Rangers’ MVP through the first two games. Kinsler’s made a couple of outstanding plays defensively while easily leading the club on offense going 4-for-7 in the series.

Should the Rangers go on to win the series, Kinsler’s ninth inning stolen base will likely stand as the turning point in Texas’ favor.

Meanwhile, despite being gunned down in Game 1, Kinsler used his own green light to steal second Thursday night. This time he made it safely, just barely, to earn his third steal in five tries this postseason.

That’s well below his regular season success rate on the base paths of 88.2-percent. But we’re sure to see more attempts if Ian continues to get on base.

After all, the man set a club record stealing 28 consecutive bases from late April through late September. The guy can flat-out run!  

***

With the Rangers trailing by one run late in Game 1, Elvis Andrus stood at the plate with a runner on base and watched strike 1,2 & 3 go by without lifting his bat off his shoulder.

He looked lost, overmatched, and appeared unaware of just how desperate the situation was.

Not so in Game 2.

After Kinsler stole second in the ninth, Elvis patiently awaited a 2-2 heater from Jason Motte. He drove the pitch into center field, advancing Kinsler to third, then smartly took second base on a botched rely throw to the infield.

All kinds of HUGE! Game changing.

Oh yeah, how dare I not mention his two highlight reel plays at SS too. Game changers, as well.

***

I noted Alexi Ogando as the main reason the Rangers would win this World Series. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong through two games.

Apparently, I over-looked Allen Craig, the man whose two clutch hits for St. Louis nearly gave them a commanding 2-0 series lead.

For the second consecutive game Craig won the battle vs. the flame-thrower, both times hitting the ball to right field to drive in go-ahead runs. (Maybe Ogando shouldn’t pitch him low & away?)

Only due to a weird twist of ninth inning fate did Ogando luckily escaped being the goat in both games, while Craig nearly reached hero-like status across baseball. 

That said, Craig’s 2-fer against Ogando gives him the mental edge in their next matchup, which is likely coming in every game from here on out.

It’s the best matchup going in the series.

***

It’s been a huge coming out party for Jason Motte this October, who was perfect in save opportunities this postseason until blowing Game 2.

Not many knew of the man closing games for St. Louis down the stretch when the Cards were fighting from 10.5 games back to win the Wild Card.

Now everyone knows him.

Motte took over the closer’s role after the All Star break saving nine games in 13 chances with a 1.93 ERA.

He set a franchise record with 33 straight scoreless appearances from late July through early September and led still led the team in Holds (20) after switching to closer.

Motte has virtually been unhittable through the playoffs. But the Rangers ninth inning rally could prove costly to his psyche.

Texas has now faced him twice this series, beat him once, and proven they can hit the man who relies strictly on a heavy fastball without an off-speed pitch.

As good as the Cardinals bullpen has been in October, it’s means little if Motte can’t close the door.

How he responds in his next outing could prove once and for all if Motte is truly closer material.

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