Texas One Win Away From First World Series Title

Mike Napoli comes through again for Rangers, Series heads back to St. Louis.

Josh Helmuthby Josh Helmuth

It is loud in Texas. Very loud.  At least it was in Arlington on Monday night.

NAP-O-LEE! NAP-O-LEE!… Rangers fans are getting pretty used to that chant ringing throughout the ballpark after their catcher came through again, with his bat and from behind the plate. Tony Romo, George Bush, Chuck Norris…… no one compares. Right now, Mike Napoli is the most popular man in Texas.

Sunday night it was Napoli’s home run that propelled the Rangers to the Game 4 win. Monday night it was his two run double in the 8th inning that secured their second World Series game win in a row. Never mind the fact that he threw out Cardinal, Allen Craig, twice on his attempts to swipe second, and made the last out of the game on a mis-caught third strike in which he threw out Lance Berkman at first.

In regards to his new found fame via chants from the fans, Napoli said, "It's amazing… every time I go up there it pumps me up. These fans are awesome.”

So awesome, that the noise stirred up some controversial confusion for the Cardinals.

In an attempt to switch relievers, while (go figure) facing Napoli, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa had to call the bullpen twice, asking for reliever Jason Motte, and still got the wrong pitcher when Lance Lynn came marching to the mound.  According to reports, it’s hard to even hear the bullpen phone ring because of the fan noise, which of course makes it even more difficult to hear clearly while communicating through the device.

There was also confusion earlier in the game when Craig attempted to steal with Albert Pujols at the plate, only to get thrown out. It looked like it was an unsolicited attempt at a hit and run, but regardless, it was obvious that it was a move not predicated by La Russa. The Cardinals manager stated in the post game press conference that he was more “frustrated” because they had “numerous opportunities to have runs.”

The Cardinals stranded 12 runners in scoring position Monday night, the second most in their franchise World Series history. But one still needs to ask if it was the pressure felt from the crowd that allowed the red birds to crack?

Baseball analyst Karl Ravich would say post game, “It feels like they’ve won the World Series. It feels like a college game day atmosphere.”

The Texas A&M football team has their “12th man,” I would say that the Rangers now have their “10th” man. It should be interesting to see how Texas handles the St. Louis crowd now that the series heads back to Busch Stadium. The Rangers have not lost two games in a row since late August.

“It’s not going to be easy…better going there to win one game instead of two… we have a good ball club, I believe we can do it, “ said third baseman Adrian Beltre, who had a game tying solo home run in the sixth inning.

Cardinals Outlook: Well it’s down to this. The Cards need to win two in a row at home to get their 11th World Series title. Jaime Garcia has been great as of late and if they can get the Game 6 win, it turns the series around for them completely. Garcia also had a sub 3.00 ERA at home games this season, which was more than twice as good as he was on the road. It will be interesting to see who the Cardinals pitch in Game 7 if they get there; could be Edwin Jackson, or a bold move by throwing Chris Carpenter on short rest. Crazier things have happened.

Rangers Outlook:  The Rangers should have the mindset of going into St. Louis on a mission to win Game 6 or bust. That’s the kind of intentness Michael Jordan had for the Bulls, who never played a Game 7 in the finals. It’s basketball, but you get the picture. The Rangers have a ridiculous lineup. If Colby Lewis pitches great, Dallas has another 2011 championship team to join the Mavericks.

Stats Of The Night: Napoli became the second player to have four multi-RBI games in a World Series, joining Mickey Mantle, who did so in 1960.

Game 6: Wednesday – Texas @ St.Louis.  7:05 CT
TEX: Colby Lewis (2.95) vs STL: Jaime Garcia (3.97)