ST. LOUIS -- Mike Napoli called for the pitch up, but Alexi Ogando left it down. And pinch-hitter Allen Craig hit it to right for an RBI single. For the second straight night, Ogando came in for the Rangers' starting pitcher, and the Cardinals countered with Craig. Both times, St. Louis had runners on the corners with two outs and the score tied. And for the second straight night, Craig got the best of Ogando. The only difference was that in Game 1, it was 2-2 in the sixth, and in Game 2, it was scoreless in the seventh.
Fortunately for Ogando and Texas, though, it did not decide the outcome, as the American League champs came back to win Game 2 in the ninth, 2-1. "That's more than happy for me," Ogando said through a translator. "That's important for our team. We were behind, and we got the win." After dominating throughout the postseason, allowing just one earned run over 10 1/3 innings in the first two rounds, the first two World Series games have not gone as well for Ogando. He was one of the biggest reasons behind the Rangers beating the Tigers in the AL Championship Series, but he was nearly the reason for their first back-to-back losses since Aug. 24-25.
IN A PINCH
But while Craig has bested Ogando twice, it's a matchup the Rangers would gladly take again."We want him in there every single time," Napoli said. "I'll take Alexi again against Craig in that same situation again. We won't lose confidence in him, he's gotten it done for us all year." In Game 1, Ogando replaced C.J. Wilson and needed to get one out to get out of the sixth inning. He started Craig with a fastball outside for a ball, then got him to swing and miss twice on two more fastballs. Ahead, 1-2, Ogando went to the fastball again, and Craig hit a pitch down and on the outer half of the plate, dropping it in down the line just out of the reach of Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz. When he faced Craig again in Game 2, Ogando started him with a fastball over the middle of the plate, which he fouled off. His 0-1 pitch was another fastball, down and away, and Craig hit it to right for another RBI single. "That's my plan. I have to work with my fastball," Ogando said. "If I get ahead in the count, then I can use my slider, but my first mistake is that I missed my location on my fastball. "Napoli, he asked me for a high pitch. I left it down, I left it low, and [Craig] got it. So that was my mistake." Craig's hit put him in some rare company. He became the first player to have go-ahead pinch-hits in multiple games in the same World Series, and just the third to have a go-ahead hit in the sixth inning or later of consecutive World Series games. He joins Duke Snider, who did it for the 1952 Dodgers, and Amos Otis for the Royals in '80. "There have been some good pinch-hitters in the history of the game, but for a young guy like him to have that kind of cool and be that competitive against a guy with that kind of arm, that's special," said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa. "It was almost a great story for us, turned out to be a greater one for them." Only 13 players have had pinch-hit RBIs in multiple games of the same World Series, with Bubba Trammell being the last to do so, in 2000 for the Mets. Eight players have had RBIs on pinch-hits in multiple games of the same World Series, and Jay Johnstone was the last to accomplish that feat, for the 1981 Dodgers. Craig became the fifth player in history to collect four or more pinch-hits in a single postseason, and the first since Todd Hollandsworth in 2003 for the Marlins. And all he had to do was get a hit in the same situation off the same pitcher on a similar pitch on back-to-back nights. "Kind of the same thing," said Craig. "David [Freese] got on with a hit. and Nick [Punto] got him to third with a hit, and it was kind of deja vu all over again."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.