The St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers traded runs in quick succession in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series on Wednesday night, with all of the action taking place in the middle innings. Each team put two on the board in back-to-back half innings -- St. Louis scored first in the bottom of the fourth, followed by Texas in the top of the fifth.
And in the top of the bottom of the sixth, it was Allen Craig, brought in as a pinch hitter in place of pitcher Chris Carpenter, delivering the big hit for the Cardinals. Craig had his chance after C.J. Wilson walked Nick Punto on four-pitches, putting runners on first and third with two outs. Wilson explained the sequence, including the walk, after the game.
"The plan was not to give in," Wilson said. "I know they had either Carpenter coming up or a pinch hitter, and with Ogando warming up behind me, I have confidence that he's going to come in and get that guy out."
The pinch hitter was Craig, who stepped to the dish with a chance to bring in the go-ahead run with a base hit. Wilson was sent to the bench in favor of Alexi Ogando and Craig sent a blooper down the right-field line that was just out of Nelson Cruz's reach. He slid feet-first, but came up just short.
"It was close," Cruz said. "Baseball is like that. Inches."
And from the probably useless, but perhaps interesting, stats department:
Allen Craig had the first go-ahead, game-winning RBI hit by a pinch hitter in a World Series Game 1 since Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series (Luis Polonia had a pinch-hit fielder's choice in 1995). The four previous teams to have a pinch-hit go-ahead RBI in Game 1 went on to win the series.
So we can just mark the Cards down as World Series champs thanks to this fun pinch-hit statistic that only comes into play once in forever.
Whether or not it translates to a positive World Series outcome, Craig was the hero at the plate on Wednesday night, but he had plenty of help after the fact. Once again, the St. Louis bullpen came in and clamped down, pitching the final three innings by committee while allowing just one hit.
The end result was a 3-2 win and a 1-0 series lead for the Cardinals. The Rangers and Cards will be back at it again on Thursday as they square-off in Game 2 of the World Series at Busch Stadium.