ST. LOUIS -- Purists lamenting the lost art of baserunning have a new hero to champion their cause. His name is Ian Kinsler.
Kinsler's daring, alert trip around the bases in Thursday night's ninth inning generated the two-run uprising that gave the Texas Rangers a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the World Series, which is tied at one game apiece.
"He's a hot mess," Rangers first baseman Michael Young said of Kinsler. "He just has a way of getting in the middle of things all the time."
With the Cards clinging to a 1-0 edge, Kinsler christened the ninth with a bloop single to left field off St. Louis closer Jason Motte.
"It was down, but obviously it was not down enough," Motte said of the 2-2 delivery that Kinsler hit. "He got enough on it."
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Elvis Andrus came to bat with orders to try to bunt Kinsler to second base. But on a 1-1 pitch, Andrus pulled back his bat as Kinsler broke for second base. Kinsler pulled in safely with a headfirst slide, grabbing the bag with his left hand barely ahead of catcher Yadier Molina's throw.
Just one night earlier, Molina appeared to have discouraged Texas from running by throwing out Kinsler on an attempted theft of second to open Game 1.
Asked to describe the margin by which he was safe, Kinsler prompted laughter from reporters by replying, "Enough. I mean, my hand just barely got in there. It took everything I had. Yadier made an unbelievable throw -- quick, on the money."
History's final judgment awaits Kinsler. Should the Rangers proceed to win their first Fall Classic, Texas fans might recall Kinsler's larceny with the same ardor that Red Sox Nation reserves for Dave Roberts' steal in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series.
"It wasn't a Series-saving rally, but it was huge," Kinsler said.
Kinsler's advance placed him in scoring position for Andrus, who lined a single on another 2-2 pitch. Kinsler rounded third base and appeared destined to head for home. But as Rangers manager Ron Washington noted, St. Louis center fielder Jon Jay "was playing quite shallow." So Jay's throw reached the infield quickly enough to prompt Kinsler to stop and return to third base. However, Jay's throw eluded the cutoff man, first baseman Albert Pujols, who was charged with an error, which enabled Andrus to pull into second base.
It seemed that Kinsler decoyed the Cardinals into letting Jay's throw bypass Pujols, thus giving Andrus the extra base. But Kinsler insisted that he was simply running hard.
"I was thinking [about] scoring that run right there, and I rounded the bag pretty far," he said. "Luckily [Pujols] didn't come up with it and it was a non-issue. It was a little scary, [being] kind of stranded out there."
Jay blamed himself for making a subpar throw.
"I was just trying to keep it low," said Jay. "I kind of pulled it a little bit and he wasn't able to cut it [off]. I probably should have made a little better throw there. [It sailed] just a little bit. That's just the way it went for us today."
Regardless of interpretation, Kinsler helped Andrus move 90 extra feet, which hastened St. Louis' doom.
"Obviously we don't want the back runner to go to second base," Cards manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't know exactly what happened there, but that was an important extra base."
Kinsler, whose .571 batting average (4-for-7) leads the Rangers, sped home on Josh Hamilton's sacrifice fly. That drive also sent Andrus to third base, from where he scored on Young's sacrifice fly.
"They played a classic ninth inning," La Russa said of the Rangers. "They stole a base. Not many people would try to run on Yadi, and they barely made it. But it took guts and they executed it, so they did a lot of good things. I tip my cap to them."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.