Texas Rangers establish unwanted tradition

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“I’m still kind of numb,” general manager Jon Daniels said.

Just as Red Sox fans wondered why John McNamara didn’t put in Dave Stapleton as a defensive replacement in the 10th inning of Game 6, Rangers supporters will ponder why Feliz didn’t throw a slider to Freese with a 1-2 count in the ninth inning of Game 6 instead of a 98 mph fastball.

“Sometimes when opportunity is in your presence, you certainly can’t let it get away because sometimes it takes a while before it comes back,” manager Ron Washington said. “If there’s one thing that happened in this World Series that I’ll look back on is being so close, just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten, and it could have been a different story.”

Boston blew a nine-game September lead in the AL wild card, and Atlanta frittered away an 8 1/2-game advantage in the NL, with the Cardinals reaching the playoffs on that unforgettable final night of the regular season on Sept. 28.

But with a title tantalizingly close yet remaining elusive, this caused even more heartache. After the game, the Rangers clubhouse remained closed for about 20 minutes while Washington spoke with his players.

In the first Game 7 since 2002, the Rangers spurted to a 2-0 lead against Chris Carpenter, pitching on three days’ rest for the second time in his career. Josh Hamilton and Young hit RBI doubles in the first inning, which could have been bigger had not Ian Kinsler stumbled and been picked off first after his leadoff single.

Instead of bringing back Wilson on short rest or starting Derek Holland, who pitched brilliantly in winning Game 4, Washington stayed in rotation and started Harrison.

He couldn’t hold the lead, allowing three runs, five hits and two walks in four innings. Harrison had trouble with plate umpire Jerry Layne.

“He had his zone,” Harrison said. “There were pitches that were close that didn’t go our way.”

Feldman and Wilson then fouled up the fifth, combining for three walks and two hit batters while allowing two runs without any hits.

Freese, the World Series MVP, started the comeback with a tying, two-run double in the first. Allen Craig, starting because Matt Holliday injured his wrist on Thursday, homered for a 3-2 lead in the third, with Nelson Cruz vainly climbing the right-field wall trying to make the catch.

Facing Feldman, Yadier Molina walked with the bases loaded for the second time in two nights, and Wilson forced in another run when he relieved and hit Rafael Furcal on the hip with his first pitch.

That made it 5-2, and the record crowd of 47,399 at Busch Stadium got louder and louder with each Texas out as the Cardinals‘ 11th World Series title and first since 2006 neared.

Texas pitchers walked a World Series-record 41, one more than the 1997 Florida Marlins. Of the Cardinals‘ 34 runs, 11 reached base on walks and another two on hit batters. Not exactly what Nolan Ryan was looking for when he started to remake the team with strong pitching.

“You’re going for careful locations. That sometimes leads to bad results,” Wilson said. “And then sometimes there’s the factor of trying to do too much. You get into a situation where the pressure is on, you try to make too perfect of a pitch. It’s a little thing, like maybe you squeeze the ball or something. But something physically changes.”

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