The lefthander executed his game plan almost flawlessly, burying pitches on the hands of St. Louis hitters while sending his curveball diving to the bottom of the strike zone and below. He made the Cardinals look like, well, scrub dudes. He became the third-youngest pitcher in World Series history to throw shutout ball into the ninth inning while permitting as few as two hits—the youngest since Waite Hoyt of the 1921 Yankees and Bill James of the 1914 Braves, who both were 22. Napoli broke open a 1--0 game in the sixth when he blew up La Russa's first bullpen move—righthander Mitchell Boggs entering after starter Edwin Jackson issued the last of his seven walks—with a first-pitch three-run homer.
After he gave up a one-out walk in the ninth, Holland's night ended as it began—with a meeting with Washington. The manager came out to the mound and told the lefty he was taking him out.
"Wash," Holland pleaded, "let me stay in. I can get a double play."
"I know you can," the manager said, "but I'm going with Nefti."
"Wash, let me stay. I've worked hard for this."
"No. You're going to give me the ball, son, and just soak up that crowd on your way off."
Said Holland, "He gave me that little laugh of his—'Ha-ha!'—and out I went."
Rangers president and Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan called Holland's effort "the game of his life." Holland didn't disagree, saying, "Yes, because this is the big stage. I was able to step up." Holland succeeded in making certain the World Series would be a long one, that it would return to St. Louis. One last back and forth in a give-and-take October.
Get more analysis and video reports from Tom Verducci as well as complete coverage of the final games of the World Series.