Sloppy defense gives way to thrilling finish
Clubs combine for five errors in first six innings of Game 6
ST. LOUIS -- It will be remembered for the incredible back-and-forth finish. But early on, Game 6 of the World Series was defined by the poor play of the Rangers and Cardinals, especially defensively.
The two teams combined to commit five errors on the night, the most since Game 1 in 2010, when the Rangers (4) and Giants (2) combined for six. With their three errors, the Cardinals had their most in a single World Series game since 1943, when they committed four in Game 3 against the Yankees.
"Truly, this was an ugly game for about six or seven innings," said Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman. "And then it got beautiful in a hurry right at the end. But there was a lot of things that you could look at and say, 'That's not good baseball.'"
It started in the fourth inning, when a routine fly ball to left field turned out to be anything but. Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal and left fielder Matt Holliday converged on the ball, and a miscommunication between the two allowed the ball to drop.
Nelson Cruz reached on the error, and advanced to second just ahead of the throw from Holliday. One batter later, Mike Napoli followed with a single, scoring Cruz from second.
"I looked at him, and when you see the infielder's back -- he's really good at fly balls and he had it under control," Holliday said. "Then he looked at me, and once I saw him looking at me, we weren't on the same page and by the time you try to adjust, it's too late."
Holliday's error was followed by another from Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas, who tried to get Napoli at second base on a sacrifice bunt. Salas' throw sailed high into center field, allowing Napoli to be safe at second and Colby Lewis to reach safely at first base.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Rangers followed suit as a fielding error by Michael Young allowed Lance Berkman to reach base. Berkman scored three batters later to tie the ballgame once again.
In the top of the fifth, it was the Cardinals again, as third baseman David Freese dropped a popup that went in and out of his glove, allowing Josh Hamilton to reach base leading off the inning. Young was due up next, and he delivered an RBI double to score Hamilton and put the Rangers back on top.
Finally, Young capped things off in the sixth inning as his throwing error allowed Matt Holliday to reach with one out. Fortunately for the Rangers, Young's second error did not result in a run.
"That's just how the game goes sometimes," said Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig. "You'd like to have a clean game, but sometimes guys make mistakes. It's a tough game. You've just got to work through it."
Before the start of Game 6, a Sport Science segment aired on ESPN showing the difference cold weather can make in a baseball game. According to the research, in temperatures below 45 degrees, players lose 50 percent of their gripping ability. It also said that games in such conditions see an 18 percent increase in errors.
It was not quite that cold Thursday night, at least not from the start, as the game-time temperature was 53 degrees. But it did get down to the low 40s by the end of the game.
Could the cold have been a factor?
"No, definitely not. This is how it is when we open up the season here for the first two months," said Jon Jay. "From the start to the finish, it was just a crazy, crazy, crazy game with everything that happened."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.