October 21, 2011
It's too bad that TV ratings for this year's World Series will probably drop, due to the absence of big-city teams, because people are missing one heck of a contest! Quite unlike the final games of their respective league championship series, in which the Rangers and Cardinals both scored double-digit run totals, the first two games of the Fall Classic have been razor-close pitchers' duels. In Thursday night's game, there were no runs scored until the seventh inning, when pinch-hitter Allen Craig drove in a run on a single to right field -- just like he had done the night before! No pinch-hitter had ever batted in go-ahead runs more than one time in any previous World Series, so this makes yet another historical milestone for the memorable 2011 postseason. That forced the Rangers' starting pitcher Colby Lewis out of the game, and when Texas went down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, it looked like the Cardinals would win.
But instead, the Rangers started the top of the ninth with two singles, by Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols flubbed a catch from the center fielder, allowing Andrus to get to second. That meant two runners in scoring position with nobody out! The next two batters did exactly what they had to do: Josh Hamilton and Michael Young both hit long fly balls that allowed the runners to advance, scoring two quick runs. Those two sacrifice flies were what won the game for the Rangers, possibly saving the series for them. It is also possible that shortstop Elvis Andrus' amazing dive to start a double play in the fourth inning tipped the balance in the Rangers' favor. It looked like a sure single up the middle, but he grabbed the ball and flipped it to second baseman Ian Kinsler -- with his glove -- and just like that, the inning was over. Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia had a splendid outing, allowing only three hits in seven full innings, but it was all for nought. He was the first Mexican-born pitcher to start in a World Series game since Fernando Valenzuela back in the 1980s. For the full recap of Game 2, see MLB.com.
Error! Being physically (and mentally?) exhausted, I erroneously posted the score as "3-2" rather than "2-1" after the game last night, and fixed it this morning.
Based on some very handy tips from Jonathan Karberg, I updated the Busch Stadium III diagram. He noticed that the upper portion of the bleachers in right field do not extend all the way to the light towers. Indeed, one of my own photos confirmed that there is a gap of about eight feet. I also scrutinized more closely some of the photos I had taken there during my tour in August. For the time being, I'm leaving the lower-deck version untouched so you can see exactly what changed.
It occurred to me that this is the first stadium I have ever visited in which a World Series game was played during the same year. Ironically, the Cardinals were slumping badly when I was there in August, and there was an air of resignation. What an amazing comeback they achieved in September!
Finally, just for fun, here is a new spliced-together "extreme" panoramic shot: