Cards run out of potential rally in Game 5
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - With Allen Craig on first base and nowhere for Texas to put Albert Pujols, the Cardinals appeared to be in position to set up a tiebreaking rally in Game 5 of the World Series.
Craig saw a hit-and-run sign, and then took off on the next pitch. Pujols never swung at the high and outside ball and Craig was thrown out on what would be ruled a caught stealing for the second out.
"It was a hit-and-run and (Alexi) Ogando threw an unhittable pitch. It was a perfect play for them,'' Craig said. "Those are the breaks. I didn't get it done this time.''
Explained Pujols, "He's throwing 99 miles per hour away. It was tough to get that pitch.''
With two outs, the Rangers then granted Pujols his third consecutive intentional walk and St. Louis failed to score in the inning, even after a single by Matt Holliday and another intentional pass to Lance Berkman before David Freese ended the inning with a flyball.
Texas went on to a 4-2 victory Monday night, taking a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 will be in St. Louis on Wednesday night.
What went unexplained was who called the hit-and-run play in a 2-all game. Did the signal come from the bench, or was it something Pujols decided on his own?
"It was just a mix-up,'' manager Tony La Russa said. "On our team nobody gets thrown under the bus, so it was a mix-up.''
Pujols wasn't saying.
"That's something that I don't know, (I've done) maybe 200 times. I play my game,'' he said. "That's secret. I can't tell you how I play my game.''
MO' WORK: The St. Louis Cardinals will play their last game within a matter of days. Then the work really begins for general manager John Mozeliak, who will have little time to relish the success of a World Series season.
"It doesn't seem fair, does it?'' Mozeliak said Monday before Game 5. "When you look at this job, it's sort of getting here and just trying to enjoy this moment as best you can. ... Special as this is, it's going to be a fleeting moment. And in time it's going to be right back to it.''
Among the first things on the offseason agenda for Mozeliak will be deciding on the mutual contract option for manager Tony La Russa for 2012, an item that should determined by both parties within two weeks after the end of the World Series.
"At this point, hopeful that we can wrap that up rather quickly,'' Mozeliak said. "And right now as far as what's going to happen, every time he and I start to sit down and talk about it, we always realize and we sort of pinch ourselves that here we are in the World Series or having success in the postseason. So we just really haven't stopped to focus on it at this time.''
There's also the pending free agency for Albert Pujols.
"Our offseason strategy, it hasn't changed dramatically just due to the postseason success,'' Mozeliak said. "There's certainly some things that when you look at putting this club together, the big question marks are going to be, will we get Albert Pujols re-signed or not? ... There's no doubt, he's been the identity of this organization for the past decade.''
The Cardinals have already signed former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter to a $21 million, two-year contract through 2013, and Lance Berkman to a $12 million dollar deal next year.
WALK AWAY: Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols was intentionally walked three times Monday night, the first time that has happened in a World Series since Barry Bond got three intentional passes in Game 4 in 2002.
After Pujols had a flyball to center to end the first, he was intentionally walked in the third and fifth innings by Texas starter C.J. Wilson. Then in the seventh, when Allen Craig was caught stealing on a 1-1 pitch with Pujols standing at the plate, catcher Mike Napoli stood up and Alexi Ogando threw three wide pitches.
Wilson, finished with five walks, including the two intentional passes to Pujols. The 19 walks by Wilson, including five intentional, match Jaret Wright for the most ever in a single postseason.
HARRY'S GAME: If the World Series extends to seven games, Rangers manager Ron Washington has no plans to alter his pitching rotation.
"It's Harry's game,'' Washington said Monday, referring to Matt Harrison.
Even if potential weather issues in St. Louis were to push the series back an extra day, Washington said he wouldn't change his pitching plans.
The question came up after left-hander Derek Holland threw 8 1-3 scoreless innings in Game 4 against the Cardinals. Harrison, who made it through only 3 2-3 innings in Game 3 on Saturday, would get his next turn in the rotation in Game 7.
"Matt Harrison earned it,'' Washington said. "You think Derek Holland earned his start (Sunday) night if you want to talk about struggles. That's the way we roll.''
In his previous start, Holland gave up four runs in 4 2-3 innings and got a no-decision in the Rangers' AL championship series-clinching win over Detroit.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa isn't saying who would pitch in a Game 7.
"My attitude is really consistent,'' La Russa said. "It's about today, and you have to get somebody ready for 6, and that's Jaime (Garcia). Then stop and see where we are at that point.''
AARON AWARDS: Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista joined Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds as the only players to repeat as recipient of the Hank Aaron Award that goes to each league's top offensive players.
Bautista, who also won the AL award last year with 54 homers, had 43 homers this season and batted a career-best .302 with 103 RBIs and a majors-best .608 slugging percentage.
Matt Kemp of the Dodgers was the NL winner after leading his league in homers (39), RBIs (126), runs scored (115) and total bases (353). His .324 batting average was third in the league.
The award were established in 1999 to honor the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's home run record.
Commissioner Bud Selig presented the awards because Aaron was absent, unable to travel while recovering from knee replacement surgery.
"The surgery went well. He's recovering comfortably, but he can't travel, and he's not going to be able to travel for a while,'' Selig said of Aaron. "He said it's the first time he's ever missed a game due to an injury. He wanted me to say that.''
CAPTAIN COMEBACK: Considering the Rangers have been down 1-0 and 2-1 in the World Series, it was fitting that they had Captain Comeback, Roger Staubach, throw out the ceremonial first pitch of Game 5.
Staubach was the quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys when they won their first Super Bowl title in January 1972 - a few months before the Washington Senators moved to Arlington and were renamed the Rangers.
A former baseball star himself, Staubach has followed the Rangers throughout the decades and is as excited as any Dallas-Fort Worth resident about the team's consecutive AL pennants and their chances for a first-ever title this week, especially coming a few months after the Dallas Mavericks won their first NBA title.
"It's kind of a neat deal,'' Staubach said. "And I think the Cowboys are coming back, too, by the way.''
NINE-HOLE HOMERS: With his homer nearly halfway up the second deck of seats in right field Monday night, Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland accomplished a World Series first.
Moreland is the first person with two World Series homers hitting from the No. 9 spot in the order.
Before Moreland homered in Game 3 of last year's World Series to become the eighth player to go deep from No. 9 spot, there hadn't been a player to do it since Mark Bellhorn for Boston in 2004.
BIRTHDAY BOYS: Cardinals pitcher Arthur Rhodes and shortstop Rafael Furcal both celebrated birthdays Monday.
It was the second time in this World Series that two players had birthdays. Texas' Michael Young and St. Louis infielder Daniel Descalso both marked their birthdays last Wednesday during Game 1.
Rhodes, who started this season with Texas, turned 42. He is the oldest player to celebrate a birthday while in the World Series, surpassing Jim Palmer turning 38 while playing for Baltimore in 1983.