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The moves that set up Freese's Game 6 magic

The moves that set up Freese's Game 6 magic

From the Rick Hummel's 10 most memorable St. Louis Cardinals games series
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With the baseball season on hold, Hall of Famer Rick Hummel is presenting subscribers with a look back at 10 of the most memorable games he's covered.

Today he recalls Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. The Commish had sidebar duty that day and reported on Tony La Russa's strategy that set up the David Freese magic later in the game. You can read the game story from Joe Strauss here

Here's Rick Hummel's postgame report from Oct. 27, 2011.

For much of Thursday night at Busch Stadium, it was more of a "fallen classic" than Fall Classic, with both the Cardinals and Texas Rangers committing egregious errors. At times, the play was so rough in the field that youngsters who had wanted to stay up late to watch the game ran into their bedrooms in horror.

It made one remember one of the reasons how the Cardinals got 10½ games in arrears in the first place.

But amid the miscues and bevy of home runs by the Texas Rangers, Game 6 of the Series wound up with some tremendous drama and some intriguing strategy involved as the continuing to be miraculous Cardinals pulled out a 10-9 win in 11 innings.

Texas manager Ron Washington had someone on deck to hit for starting pitcher Colby Lewis in the fifth inning but pulled back the pinch hitter when the Rangers loaded the bases and Lewis struck out.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said he understood that because, "He wasn't giving us anything. I think he was trying to bait us."

La Russa made a decision after the fifth inning which, as later circumstances would dictate, would be a gamble that hurt. But he said he would make the move again and explained why.

La Russa lifted starting center fielder Skip Schumaker, who had hit three balls hard in three at-bats. Schumaker singled to right center and then scored on Lance Berkman's two-run homer in the first. He later flied deep to center and lined out.

Schumaker's line out ended the fifth inning, which began when Jon Jay, hitless in the Series at that point, pinch hit and bounced out as the leadoff man.

Saving two spots in the batting order, La Russa left in Jay to play center and lifted Schumaker, who could have stayed in at second base, in theory, although he had not played there after suffering an oblique injury in the final game of the division series.

La Russa said that he made the move because he wanted reliever Lance Lynn to pitch two innings.

"When a pitcher comes in and you can buy two spots and you need two innings from the pitcher ... isn't that exactly what happened?" said La Russa.

"If Schu had stayed in the game and I took Jay out, then Lynn wouldn't have been able to pitch another inning.

"You need innings from as many relievers as you could."

World Series Rangers Cardinals Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa calls his bullpen during the ninth inning of Game 6 of baseball's World Series against the Texas Rangers on Oct. 27, 2011, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

La Russa agreed that Schumaker "had great at-bats, best at-bats on the team. But we needed to have pitchers pitch innings."

Jay's spot in the order unfortunately came around with the bases loaded in the sixth when Texas brought in lefthander Derek Holland to face him. Jay tapped to the mound.

Allen Craig, a star pinch hitter earlier in the Series, was available to pinch hit but the Cardinals didn't have any more center fielders with Schumaker out of the game. And when Matt Holliday suffered a bruised right pinky finger diving back into third base when he was picked off base earlier in the sixth inning, Craig had to go into left field for him.

Craig would smack his second World Series homer in the eighth to cut the Rangers' lead to 7-5.

Running low on players, La Russa adroitly got all his extra men in the game without running into a bad spot - until the 10th. But even then, he came out all right because, after Daniel Descalso and Jay had singled in the 10th, La Russa was able to use pitcher Kyle Lohse to bunt. Lohse bunted over the head of third baseman Adrian Beltre but shortstop Elvis Andrus made the play and got Lohse at first, with the runners moving up.

That bunt proved critical as Descalso was able to score on Ryan Theriot's tap to third.

After the predictable intentional walk to Albert Pujols, Berkman re-tied the game with a single to score and the game went into the 11th.

There was a glitch in that play, though, Pitcher Edwin Jackson had been instructed to pinch hit in the 10th, but before La Russa could pull him back to have Lohse bunt, Jackson was announced and was lost for the game either hitting or pitching. Like many of La Russa's moves Thursday, it worked out in the end.

"Lohse is a better bunter," said La Russa. "They were lucky to get an out. He laid down one of the great bunts."

Earlier, La Russa had pinch hit Descalso for pinch hitter Gerald Laird in the eighth when righthander Mike Adams relieved, running him out of position players.

"We're behind," said La Russa. "You've got to take a shot. Descalso's got a better shot. You're going to save players and lose? Go into the clubhouse with guys (left)?

"The biggest thing that happened was that we lost Craig (as a pinch hitter) because Holliday got hurt. That was the only reason we were down at the end because we lost a player.

"And Jay got a hit later on, too, didn't he?"

La Russa said, rather patiently, "I'm not saying I'm smarter than you. But I know our club a lot better than you do. ... Schumaker had three great at-bats. But I didn't want to get Lynn out after the fifth."

La Russa, like everyone else, was drained afterward. "But I'm on adrenaline," he said.

"I'd have been more exhausted if we'd lost."

Looking back at 'Vuke's' Opening Day magic: They don't give quotes like this anymore.
The night it rained seat cushions at Busch Stadium
BenFred: Cardinals pitchers included in quest for improved offense
The day McGwire and Sosa dueled at Wrigley.
The Cardinals ride Jack Clark's rocket to the World Series
The day Ozzie pulled off a 3,000-1 shot
A rookie's all-nighter puts the Cardinals on the brink of a title
Bob Forsch plunks Gary Carter in the rear, then throws a no-hitter
Bruce Sutter nails down a championship

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