GALLERY: While you were sleeping, David Freese and the cast of the World Series put on quite a show. Click here to view photos from an instant classic Game 6.
When David Freese salvaged St. Louis’ season with a two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 late Thursday night, most of the United States wasn’t paying attention.
And by the time Freese met the jubilant mob of Cardinals teammates at home plate following his walk-off home run in the 11th, most of the East Coast was already deeply ensconced in REM sleep.
A quick glance at the Friday morning sports headlines likely provided a non-caffeinated jolt to sports fans who have largely ignored what is quickly becoming one of the more memorable World Series ever.
Don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one. Just look at the paltry television ratings Fox’s coverage has been pulling in.
But if you haven’t been paying attention, here’s a quick look at what you’ve missed heading into tonight’s Game 7.
Game 1: Cardinals 3, Rangers 2
The game turned when: Pinch-hitter Allen Craig doubled down the right-field line to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Most memorable moment: Tony La Russa trotting out to the mound. After Chris Carpenter subdued the Texas bats for six innings of two-run, five-hit ball, La Russa used four relievers to get through the seventh and eighth before giving the ball closer Jason Motte, who pitched a perfect ninth to give the Cards a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2: Rangers 2, Cardinals 1
The game turned when: The heavy-hitting Rangers turned to small-ball to push the game-tying and winning runs across in the top of the ninth inning. Ian Kinsler dropped a bloop single into shallow left, then stole second base. Elvis Andrus singled to move Kinsler to third and took second himself on a mishandled cutoff throw, setting the table for consecutive sacrifice fly balls from Josh Hamilton and Michael Young to even the series.
Most memorable moment: The cutoff throw. From the Majors all the way down to Little League and beer league softball, coaches never cease to stress the importance of hitting your cutoffs. Jon Jay’s cutoff throw on Feliz’s single was just off line and Albert Pujols couldn’t collect in cleanly. As a result, both Feliz was able to move up to second, putting himself in position to score the winning run.
Game 3: Cardinals 16, Rangers 7
The game turned when: Albert Pujols woke up from his World Series slumber. The quality pitching from Games 1 and 2 evaporated in a game that featured a combined six home runs — three from the three-time NL MVP. Pujols — hitless in the first two games of the series — went 5 for 6 with three bombs and six RBI.
Most memorable moment: With the game already well out of hand, Pujols mashed his third homer in the top of the 9th, sealing an emphatic victory that would surely push the Rangers to the brink of elimination.
The game turned when: Derek Holland got serious. The clubhouse joker was masterful, throwing 8 1/3 innings of two-hit ball while striking out seven. It was precisely the type of pitching performance the Rangers had to have to get back into a series many thought had already slipped out of their grasp.
Most memorable moment: Ron Washington’s lengthy mound visit with Holland and the rest of the Rangers infield in the eighth inning with the manager appearing to shake off the pitcher’s repeated pleas to close out his gem. And then the thunderous ovation Holland received as he walked back to the dugout. “Considering the circumstances, I think that was the best-pitched game this franchise has ever seen.” — Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler.
Game 5: Rangers 4, Cardinals 2
The game turned when: Catcher-turned-Texas cult hero Mike Napoli smashed a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning that left the Rangers one win away from their first World Series title.
Most memorable moment: Managerial mastermind Tony La Russa explaining the bizarre series of events that led to lefty Marc “Scrabble”
“Alphabet” Rzepczynski facing Napoli in the eighth instead of Motte. “You go and make a pitching change, (and) you’ve got the wrong guy coming out there, that’s not fun,” La Russa said. “Geez, that was embarrassing.”
Game 6: Cardinals 10, Rangers 9 (11 innings)
The game turned when: The Rangers plated three runs to take a 7-4 lead in the 7th on back-to-back home runs from Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz. Then it turned again when Freese lined a two-out two-run triple off the right field wall to force extra innings. Then it flipped upside down when the banged-up Hamilton hit a two-run home run in the top of the 10th to give the Rangers the lead once more. And then the game did a backflip with a 360-degree spin when the Cardinals plated two in the bottom of the inning to set up Freese’s walk-off in the 11th.
Most memorable moment: Too many to count, but how about Freese spiking his helmet between his legs as he made his way to home plate to celebrate one more night of postseason baseball — and go from one-time goat to two-time hero all in the same night.
So here we are. Two great teams looking to cap memorable (and improbable) seasons with one game left to decide it all.
Will you be watching?