Left-hander Jaime Garcia still has no wins to show for four postseason starts. But he crossed a threshold with seven brilliant, scoreless innings of three-hit ball Thursday night in a 2-1 Game 2 loss to the Texas Rangers in the World Series.
"We'll look forward to pitching him again (in Game 6), if it turns out that way and I think it probably will," said manager Tony La Russa after the Series was tied at one game apiece.
"But, as far as he's concerned, that's a major step that he can rely on for the rest of his career. He's done that a bunch of times his first two years, but (considering) this situation and these circumstances, that's huge for us and for him."
The Cardinals' offense consisted of pinch hitter Allen Craig's run-scoring single in the seventh inning. It was Craig's third straight pinch hit in his last three games.
The last two have come in
the first two games of the World Series, good for three runs, both off
"For a young guy like him to have that kind of cool and be that competitive against a guy with that kind of arm, that's special," said La Russa. "It was almost a great story for us. It turned out to be a greater one for them."
1B Albert Pujols was charged with an error an hour after the game for not coming up with CF Jon Jay's throw back to the infield following a ninth-inning single by Texas SS Elvis Andrus. Andrus went to second on the play, and Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler, who had roared around third only to be stopped, got back safely. Both then scored on consecutive sacrifice flies. "I'm not sure exactly what happened," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.
3B David Freese's amazing postseason hitting streak continued. Freese singled in the seventh, extending his streak to 12 games, starting with Game 2 of the Division Series. Freese's streak matches those of Cs Yadier Molina (2006-11) and Mike Matheny (2001-04) for the longest postseason streak by a Cardinal.
OF Allen Craig is the
17th player to have had three consecutive pinch hits in postseason play. He has
had two in two nights against
LF Matt Holliday and 1B Albert Pujols notably have been quiet in the Series although Pujols flied deep to right in the eighth. Holliday is 1-for-6 with a double, and Pujols is hitless in six at-bats.
2B Nick Punto, who has taken over the regular job during the postseason, has stepped it up in the World Series. He is 3-for-6 with a walk.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3 - Strikeouts recorded by LHP Mark Rzepczynski in two outings in the World Series. He has faced just four hitters.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We did the best we could. And they did it better. So, Series 1-1."
- Manager Tony La Russa after the Texas Rangers evened the World Series on Thursday night.
RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season. Wainwright was getting closer to throwing a full-strength bullpen session in September, but he will not be allowed to throw his signature curveball until next year.
NEXT GAME – World Series Game 3
VIDEO FROM FOXSPORTSMIDWEST.COM
Tony La Russa sounds off on the Cardinals losing in the ninth to Texas in Game 2 Thursday night.
Cardinals players touch on their Game 2 loss to the Rangers and about how they plan to bounce back.
Albert Pujols will become a free agent for the first time in his career when the season concludes.
Tony La Russa's post-game comments (from MLB and ASAP Sports)
TONY LA RUSSA: Absolutely. I mean, we did a lot to get the lead, and Jaime was outstanding. Had a couple chances to add. They made pitches to stop it. But they caught a break with a blooper, but after that they did some good classic baseball stuff to make two guys come around and score. They deserve credit for how they played in the ninth inning offensively.
Q. Going back to the fifth on Rafi's ground ball that was stopped by Andrus, did you feel like that was an opportunity to get a couple runs there? Did you feel like their defense was a bit of a difference in the game?
TONY LA RUSSA: I felt like we had a lot of good at bats. They're a good club for a lot of reasons, one of them is they play defense, and they showed in the ninth inning they can play the game correctly where they advanced runners and scored them. That play defensively was very important.
Q. Did you consider walking Hamilton there and leaving Motte in, especially for the ninth?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, not really. You know, load the bases, that's a really difficult thing to do. We thought we could get we had a chance to do something with Hamilton with Rhodes, maybe they score a run but they don't advance the other guy, and he did a good job.That's what I'm telling you, he pulled a ball, so he got a run in, got a guy over and Young did a very good job getting the ball to the outfield. I don't think walking him there would have made it easier for us. I think it would have made it tougher.
Q. You had a good chance to take a commanding 2 0 lead in the series. What's the mindset going into Game 3, especially after they way this one slipped away tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: We recognize that what we take care of is how hard and how good we play. You're playing against legitimate competition and if they get the win and beat you, you tip your cap. We did the best we could, and they did it better, so series 1 1. The only time you have regrets is if you didn't compete the proper way, and we did, and just got beat.
Q. You touched a little bit about Jaime and obviously a very tough loss, but can you talk about his mindset getting seven shutout inning, what it means to you in terms of moving forward from here?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think even in this series, we'll look forward to pitching him again, if it turns out that way, and I certainly think it probably will. But as far as he's concerned, I mean, that's a major step that he can rely on the rest of his career. He's done that for us a bunch of times his first two years, but you could have considered this situation and these circumstances, that's huge for us and for him.
Q. This type of the season little things mean a lot, and in the ninth inning when Pujols missed that cutoff, what does that do?
TONY LA RUSSA: I didn't have a real good shot at it. I heard Albert talking to Yadi about it later. I'm not sure exactly what happened. He's a heady player, and obviously we don't want the lead runner, the back runner to go to second base. I don't know exactly what happened there, but that was an important extra base. There again, they played classic ninth inning. They stole a base. Not many people would try to run on Yadi, and they barely made it, but it was -- took guts and they executed it, so they did a lot of good things. I tip my cap to them.
Q. How much did last night's Rhodes Hamilton match up impact bringing him in this time? And did you think about leaving Motte in to get the strikeout?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, from what I understand, Hamilton handles a fastball pretty well, and if he hadn't gotten to second base, probably would have left him in there. But if you're thinking about how can you get an out and maybe not have the guy go from second to third, I thought the left hander had a better chance. And he did good. He got an out, just he got in front of the ball and pulled it. That's really good hitting.
Q. Jason has been pretty much lights out for you. Any concerns at all about I guess it technically is a blown save. It is the World Series, just overall thoughts on how he'll respond to this.
TONY LA RUSSA: I know that if we get the lead on Saturday, he'll be 100 percent ready to go. He caught a tough break, which is baseball. I mean, the ball that Kinsler hit, that's a blooper off the end of the bat. That's not a hit a lot, but it was, and that was a tough break for us. But what they did after that was to their credit. What did Jason do? You've got to give a base hit to Andrus. He knows it, he just got victimized a little bit by the game of baseball to start the inning, and that's part of it. Next time they'll hit a line drive right at somebody and we'll get an out.
Q. You're going to have to beat a dead horse. Obviously the headlines change, but Allen, again, just locked in. Have you seen anything like this from a guy coming off the bench that just absolutely appears locked in?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, there have been some good pinch hitters in the history of the game, but for a young guy like him to have that kind of cool and be that competitive against a guy with that kind of arm, that's special. And he'll get some chances in the starting lineup when we go to Texas and look forward to getting those at bats. It was almost a great story for us, turned out to be a greater one for them.