It was a bizzarre half-inning, to say the least: telephone mishaps, four pitchers, two intentional walks, a pinch runner, three strikeouts and a game-winning RBI. The Rangers’ eighth inning of Game 5 of the World Series may have been the turning point in this epic championship.
What does all that on-field chaos look like on a scorecard?
Thanks to Robert Milliman’s precise scorekeeping methods, we know the answer.
Milliman draws a beautiful picture of the game’s ugly events, which may forever defy a full explanation. How is it possible that Cardinals manager Tony La Russa screwed up so badly that left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski was allowed to face right-handed Mike Napoli, who just happens to be the hottest-hitting player in the playoffs?
How could La Russa not know that Motte wasn’t even warming up before he called Lance Lynn — who wasn’t even supposed to play Monday — into the game? How could he blame a telephone mix-up and crowd noise for such a monumental mistake?
Milliman’s scorecard shows the disaster step by step, in all its slow-motion-train-wreck glory.
Cards right-handed specialist Octavio Dotel started the inning by allowing a double to right-center field by the No. 4 hitter, Michael Young, but Dotel followed up with a strikeout. Then Dotel, who excels at mowing down righties, was ordered to intentionally walk right-handed hitter Nelson Cruz, putting runners on first and second with one out. Dotel wasn’t pleased.
La Russa was just getting warmed up with his bullpen manipulations. He brought in Rzepczynski, who promptly gave up a single to load the bases, but then La Russa for some reason left his specialist in the game for the unfavorable match-up against Napoli, who drove a two-run double deep to the outfield. That was all the Rangers needed for the win.
But La Russa wasn’t finished. Rzepczynski struck out the next batter before he brought in Lynn to issue an intentional walk. La Russa later claimed he didn’t know Lynn was entering the game instead of closer Jason Motte until Lynn reached the field. After the intentional walk, Motte finally — finally! — came in to face a single batter, who he struck out.
History — recorded in scorecards, box scores and news articles — will always remember this sequence of plays that may well doom the Cardinals hopes. Check out the full scorecards on Milliman’s site.