ARLINGTON, TX: Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers hits a two-run double in the eighth inning during Game Five of the MLB World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Is a walk as a good as a hit?
Nah, not really. And a walk's not nearly as good as a home run. Which the Rangers proved with a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5, giving them a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven World Series.
Monday night in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals drew nine walks ... but only two of the walkers scored.
Also in Game 5, the Texas Rangers hit two home runs ... and wouldn't you know it, both of them scored.
Those numbers led to a 2-2 score through 7½ innings, with the Cardinals having squandered bases-loaded opportunities in the fifth inning ... and the sixth inning ... and the seventh inning.
In the bottom of the eighth, Octavio Dotel's second pitch to Michael Young was a hanging slider, which Young belted into the right-center gap for a leadoff double. Dotel hung another slider to Adrian Beltre, but the pitch was so high that Beltre took it for a strike and eventually he struck out.
Oddly, even though Octavio Dotel throws right-handed and Nelson Cruz bats right-handed, Tony La Russa ordered an intentional walk - the fourth of the game - before replacing Dotel with left-hander Marc Rzepczynski to deal with lefty swinger David Murphy.
Earlier in this World Series, Ron Washington replaced Murphy with pinch-hitters when Rzepczynski entered games. Not this time, though, and it really cost him when Murphy hit a double-play grounder back to the mound - except, what? Rzepczynski was handcuffed, the ball bouncing to second baseman Nick Punto, with Murphy generously credited with a base hit.
Postseason hero Mike Napoli coming up. Would La Russa summon one of his remaining right-handed relievers from the bullpen? Lance Lynn, mayhap?
Nope. Mitch Moreland was on deck, and Rzepczynski was his last lefty. So "Scrabble" would pitch to Napoli and Moreland.
Which he did. The only problem was that Napoli drove a 1-and-1 slider deep to right-center, one-hopping the wall for a two-run double.
Rzepczynski did retire Moreland, and then La Russa did summon Lance Lynn ... but not for the reason you might think. La Russa didn't summon Lynn to get Ian Kinsler out. La Russa summoned Lynn to walk Kinsler, and ONLY to walk Kinsler. La Russa wanted Jason Motte in the game, but Motte wasn't ready to pitch so Lynn's only jobs were to a) throw four wide ones to Kinsler and b) give Motte time to warm up.
I've never seen that move before, and I suspect it's never happened in the World Series before.
It worked, as Motte struck out Elvis Andrus to end the inning. But La Russa had already lost the Eight-Inning Battle, and he would lose the Game 5 War.
Ron Washington, who had escaped so many dangerous situations earlier in the game by making unorthodox moves, had a much easier job in the ninth. He simply brought in closer Neftali Feliz. And then Ron Washington, everyone's favorite non-genius, got a big favor from Professor La Russa.
Except this one time. After working the count full, Pujols struck out on a fastball a foot outside ... and for some reason Allen Craig was running, and was out at second base by a Dirk Nowitzki. Remember, Craig was not the tying run. Getting him into scoring position was pointless. Maybe Tony La Russa will explain his thinking, but lately his thinking hasn't been working so well.
Tony La Russa giveth, and Tony La Russa taketh away. If Craig Allen hadn't become the first player caught stealing twice in a World Series game since 1955, they might still be playing. Cardinals fans can only hope that he'll get a lot smarter when he's back in Missouri. Or that the Cardinals get just a little luckier.
Update: Preliminary reports suggest that La Russa wanted Jason Motte in the game much earlier, to face Napoli. But because of crowd noise, he couldn't make his intentions known in the bullpen until it was too late. More on this later, from our very own Jeff Sullivan and Grant Brisbee.