“That was an important extra base,” La Russa said. “Obviously, we don’t want the [trailing] runner to to second base. [The Rangers] did some good, classic baseball stuff to make two guys come around and score.”
Up came Hamilton, the hobbled, sore-groined slugger who has acknowledged being reduced by his injury to only 75 to 80 percent effectiveness. La Russa went to the mound, but didn’t immediately signal his move. His choices were to walk Hamilton — which would load the bases, but would also keep his best reliever, Motte, in the game to face a string of right-handed hitters — or bring in his remaining lefty, the veteran Rhodes, to face Hamilton.
La Russa went with Rhodes — more, he said, for the sake of preventing the trailing runner from moving up to third than to prevent to lead runner from scoring.
“I figured he’d stay with [Motte] to be honest — a guy that throws close to 100 [mph], rather than [Rhodes], who throws 89,” Hamilton said. “I don’t get paid to make those decisions, and I’m glad [La Russa] made that one.”
But Hamilton, swinging mostly from his upper body, was able to lift a flyball to medium-deep right field, a sacrifice fly that scored Kinsler and tied the game. Meantime, Andrus also was able to tag and advance to third.
Busch Stadium suddenly deflated, then came to life again when Young, facing the right-handed Lynn with the go-ahead run now on third, delivered another flyball of similar depth, this time to center field, as Andrus scored easily with the go-ahead run.
Three outs from Feliz later, the Rangers were celebrating on the Busch Stadium infield, and the Cardinals were slinking back to their clubhouse to confront a foreign and unwelcome feeling during what to that point had been a charmed postseason.