Rolled ankle doesn't keep gutsy Napoli off field
Texas catcher eyes Game 7 after X-rays come back negative
ST. LOUIS -- Mike Napoli's magical ride through the World Series took a painful twist Thursday night, yet he managed to dust himself off and complete what turned out to be 11 innings of unparalleled drama at Busch Stadium.
The Rangers' catcher rolled his left ankle violently while trying to hold up at second base in the fourth inning, just after he'd given the Rangers a one-run lead with his 10th RBI of the Series. But even that couldn't slow him down.
Napoli played out the remainder of the game and twice was a strike away from coming up out of his crouch to join in the celebration of a World Series title, only to come away disappointed with the rest of the Rangers. He will get another chance Friday in Game 7, which he will start.
"There's one game left," Napoli said after Game 6. "We'll get out there tomorrow and lay it on the line and hopefully the best things happen for us."
The best thing that could happen for Napoli is that his ankle doesn't swell up to the size of a pumpkin after such a horrific twist in the middle of Game 6.
Open Mike night
Although X-rays were negative, Napoli knew immediately following the game that he had a long night of ice and elevating the ankle ahead of him.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to stay in," Napoli said of how he remained in Game 6. "We're going to do some things tomorrow and try to get me back out there again."
You get the sense that if someone in the Rangers' clubhouse could give him an ankle transplant to make sure he does come back, then they would. He continued his masterful play in the Fall Classic in Game 6, and could be in position to make some history in Game 7.
In going 2-for-3 with an RBI single in Game 6, Napoli became the sixth player in history -- and the third catcher -- to record 10 RBIs in a Fall Classic. Only Bobby Richardson (12, 1960) and Mickey Mantle (11, 1960) have driven in more, both of those coming in a seven-game series.
Once again, Napoli also delivered from behind the plate. After throwing out Allen Craig trying to take second base twice in Game 5 in Arlington, Napoli cut down a potential go-ahead run in the sixth inning when he zipped a throw down the third-base line, where Adrian Beltre snagged the ball and laid a tag on a diving Matt Holliday while blocking his way to the bag with his foot.
"Beltre gave me the sign. We like doing that," Napoli said. "We had a situation earlier in the series that I thought we might do it, but we just didn't then. Everybody in the infield's always ready to back-pick."
That was just two innings after Napoli was writhing on the ground in pain, having looked up at the wrong time and twisted his ankle along the side of the second-base bag. After walking it off, Napoli returned to his spot behind home plate, where he stayed for the duration, altering his receiving stance slightly but also blocking a couple of key balls in the dirt.
Napoli was in for more pain, this one the emotional kind. He had a front-row seat as the Rangers' bullpen surrendered six runs in the final four innings as the Cardinals staged one dramatic comeback after another.
Having burst out as a national star by delivering clutch performances time and time again this postseason and especially in the World Series, Napoli had to put just about the most difficult loss the Rangers could ever imagine to rest as he propped up his sore ankle and hoped for the best all the way around come Friday.
"It's tough," Napoli said. "We were one strike away. We had it there right in front of us. It was a tough loss tonight, I can't say it wasn't. It was and it hurts, but we've got to let this go. We've got to come back tomorrow, have our fun in the clubhouse like we always do and get after it."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.