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Friday Five: World Series Game 6

The St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Berkman turns on

The St. Louis Cardinals' Lance Berkman turns on a two-run home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers in Game 6 of the World Series. (Oct. 27, 2011) Credit: MCT

"That's what you're in for, so I've got to say to those of you that have bad hearts, watch yourself."

"Barring weather delays that extend this World Series until next week, this'll wrap up our first year of the Friday Five."

One of these statements was spoken by Ron Washington after Game 2. The other was written by me after Game 2. The first person to match the statement to its speaker/author wins an old, worn-down copy of...

All right, sorry, feeling a little goofy this morning. Aren't you, too? What a game!

Here's the column I wrote for the website early this morning. I decided to go with a hard-hitting take which can best be summarized as this: "Holy crap, what a game!"

So for our bonus Friday Five - Comment Winter Olympics gets pushed back to the next time I post on a Friday - let's go, simply, with the five most amazing things about Game 6.

1. The double "down to their last strike" deal. Maybe someone already has researched this and posted it, but I can't imagine there was a team down to its last strike in back-to-back innings before. I'm pretty sure the Mets were down to their last strike more than once in the 10th inning of 1986 Game 6, but again - that was in the same inning.

When David Freese hit his ninth-inning triple, I first thought that Nelson Cruz caught it against the wall. Only when I saw the ball rolling on the ground did I realize what happened.

And once the Rangers intentionally walked Albert Pujols to go after the suddenly hot Lance Berkman in the 10th...well, you could see that one coming.

Huge bunt, by the way, by Kyle Lohse in the 10th. The Cardinals were out of position players, so they had to send a pitcher up to move the runners over from first and second.

Can you imagine being a Rangers fan and watching that last night? After the ninth, you had to be absolutely terrified watching the 10th.

My friend Jamey Newberg, about whom I wrote here during last year's World Series, put out a short post very early this morning, less than an hour after David Freese's walkoff homer.

"I have nothing to say," he wrote. "I’m gonna need the Texas Rangers to rescue me tomorrow night from how I feel right now. Glad they’re more resilient than I am."

You can read all of Jamey's stuff here.

2. Ron Washington. Man oh man, can you ever remember a World Series like this in which both of the managers have taken huge body blows?

After Tony La Russa's Bullpen PhoneGate in Game 5, it was Washington's turn to play the pinata.

Why in the world did he let Colby Lewis bat with the bases loaded, two outs and his team up by one in the fifth? It's not like Lewis was pitching a gem. Lewis got him four more outs. I would have rather taken a shot at extending that lead and using a pinch hitter.

And how about lifting Neftali Feliz after one inning and handing the season over to Darren Oliver? Feliz threw 22 pitches in the stressful ninth inning, and looking at his 2011 game log, that ranks on the high end for him. To me, you give Feliz a chance to redeem himself - your classic "Let your closer save the game he blew" - but I'll give Washington a little more slack on that one.

Intentionally walking Pujols in the 10th? I get that. It's a tribute to the Cardinals that they had a resurgent Berkman hitting behind Pujols there.

Tonight presents the true test for Washington. True to his form, he wore a calm exterior after the game and said, "We got beat," which is what he always says after a loss. It's up to him to make sure his team doesn't show up tonight looking shellshocked.

3. The Rangers' inability to put away the game early. Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia looked naked out there after three batters, and ultimately, it seemed like a miracle that he allowed only two runs in two innings. It was an obvious call for La Russa to get Garcia out of there for the third.

So the Rangers left the bases loaded in the first, two men on in the second, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, one in the sixth, one in the seventh and one in the 11th. An unlucky 13, in all, and 10 in the first five innings.

Killer. And those Rangers pitchers better spend the winter working on their bunting. Lewis bunted into a 5-6-4 double play in the second, and he lucked out in the fourth when Fernando Salas made an errant throw to second base.

Oh, and I suppose I should mention Michael Young's two errors at first base - one in the fourth and one in the sixth - each of which led to a run. Helping the Cardinals, who made three errors of their own.

4. The walking wounded. It looked like Mike Napoli would have to leave the game in the fourth, when he tripped over second base on Salas' aforementioned bad throw, rolling his left ankle in the process. But Napoli stayed in the game as catcher. Shoot, the Cardinals even intentionally walked Napoli in the fifth, despite how banged up Napoli looked.

Then Cruz did leave the game in the bottom of the 11th, having strained his right groin. And Matt Holliday departed in the seventh, after he "severely bruised" his right pinkie when he was picked off third base in the sixth.

Shoot, I've never felt this curious just to see the starting lineups in an upcoming game, let alone the condition of the bullpens.

5. Game 7. How can they top last night? How does Chris Carpenter perform on three days' rest? Does Matt Harrison bounce back from his tough Game 3? What will the reception for Pujols be like every time he comes to the plate, knowing that this could be his final game (but probably not, IMO) in a Cardinals uniform?

Come on. who isn't watching tonight?

--For my World Series Insider, I offered some hunches on CC Sabathia, the collective bargaining agreement and the Angels' and Orioles' GM openings 

--As always, I'll check in if I have a chance. But I haven't, because I haven't, if you know what I mean.


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