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Napoli Is the Hero; Lifts Rangers to Game 5 Win, 3-2 World Series Lead

Tonight may very well have been the last time C.J. Wilson pitched in a Rangers uniform.  Unfortunately, it did not end with a win or even a curtain call.  It's a shame, really, because even though he's been bad in the postseason, his regular season efforts are a factor in the Rangers even being in the postseason.  But fans have short term memories, for the most part, so if he goes, most will only remember him as the guy who blew it in the postseason. 

Needless to say, Wilson was not very sharp tonight.  He's actually quite fortunate to have only given up two runs in 5.1 innings of work.  He needed just seven pitches for the 1st inning but then threw nearly 30 in the 2nd inning.  In his defense, the Rangers defense let him down a little, but he also failed to do as his motto says -- throw strikes.  He walked two batters, both of whom scored on defensive miscues -- David Murphy misplayed a single in left and Mitch Moreland couldn't make a play at home on an infield single. Wilson also shook off his catcher many times tonight, and I don't think that was a wise idea at all.  Mike Napoli calls a great game, and who knows what would have happened if Wilson had listened to his catcher a little more.

Wilson wasn't on the mound for the 7th, but it was a very scary inning.  Two intentional walks, an unintentional walk and a hit.  The luck dragon was on Alexi Ogando's side because no Cardinals runs scored. 

In all, Rangers pitchers issued NINE walks tonight.  That is unacceptable.

The Rangers weren't having much better luck at the plate than they were in the field.  Solo home runs from Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre allowed them to tie the game.  But other than that, they just couldn't seem to string any hits together for the first several innings.  They didn't get a lead-off runner until the 8th inning, and they couldn't capitalize on any of the one-out and two-out walks and hits. 

Oh, but they did get that 8th inning lead-off runner.  Michael Young hit a double to the deep part of the ballpark, and then Nelson Cruz was intentionally walked with one out.  Tony LaRussa and Ron Washington played a bit of a chess match as Wash seemed to be sending a pinch hitter to the plate for Murphy.  LaRussa brought in Rzepczynski , and Wash sent Murph up anyway.  Murph hit it back to the pitcher, but it bounced off Rzepcynski's leg and the second baseman couldn't find it.  Murph reached to load the bases up for Napoli, who launched one into right center field to chase home Young and Cruz. It is still Naptober, after all.

That was the end of the Rangers' offensive surge, but it was enough. Neftali Feliz shut it down in the 9th, but not without some drama.  He hit the first batter, but then helped Napoli erase him with a strike 'em out-throw 'em out double play.  And then he walked the third batter of the inning before striking out Lance Berkman.  But even that had a little flair to it -- the pitch got away from Napoli, who had to chase it down and throw out Berkman at first.  Crazy.


KISS:  Mike Napoli.  That double in the 8th was a thing of beauty, and that strike 'em out-throw 'em out double play in the 9th was hella sexy.  Don't ever leave us, Mike.

MISS: Sadly, I think I have to hand it to C.J. Wilson.   He didn't hurt the team, exactly, but those five free passes in 5.1 innings were not good.



Cardinals :: 2 R, 7 H, 1 E, 11 TLOB

Rangers :: 4 R, 9 H, 2 E, 10 TLOB


Game 6 match-up

Wednesday @ STL, 7:05 p.m. CST

Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40 ERA) vs. Jaime Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA)


Rangers lead the series 3-2.


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