It was the bottom of the ninth inning in the sixth game of the World Series on Thursday night, and the Texas Rangers were a strike away from winning the game and winning the series 4-2 — for the first time in franchise history. But the resilient St. Louis Cardinals came back to tie the score, and went on to win in an incredible 11-inning nail-biter that's being hailed as "the greatest World Series Game ever." Now, it all comes down to Game 7 on Friday night. What was so great about Game Six? Here, three takes:
1. It was a dramatic rollercoaster
"I've never seen anything like it, and I've never been a part of anything like it," Rangers reliever Darren Oliver tells ESPN. "There were so many highs and lows. This game was crazy." Twice, the Rangers were about to break out the champagne, only to have their dreams dashed. In the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes, the Cardinals' hometown hero David Freese sailed a two-run triple off star Rangers closer Neftali Feliz to tie the game. The Rangers reclaimed the lead again in the 10th inning — thanks to a homer from hobbled slugger Josh Hamilton — only to see the Cardinals tie the game again in the bottom of the inning on hot-hitting veteran Lance Berkman's single. There were two outs and two strikes on Berkman — again putting the Rangers a single strike away from victory before the Cardinals came back. In the 11th, Freese won it for the Cards with a deep homer to center.
2. There were so many heroes (and almost heroes)
The final innings played out like "an exchange of heroics," says David Roth in The Wall Street Journal. Indeed, while the hero of the game was ultimately Freese, who hit the "monumentally important homer" in the 11th to win the game (after an equally important triple in the ninth to tie it up), the game was "a pegwheel of possible heroes," says Jeff Sullivan at Baseball Nation. One was the Rangers' Nelson Cruz, who hit a surprise home run in the top of the seventh, which, at the time, "seemed to drive home the point that the Rangers were going to win." Cruz also nearly caught the ball that became Freese's game-tying triple in the bottom of the ninth. And don't forget Hamilton, whose two-run homer in the 10th seemed like it would deliver the series for the Rangers. It would have been a "storybook ending" for the injured star, who limped up to the plate in pain before slugging it out of the park. "That's probably the slowest I've ever run the bases after hitting a home run," he says. "I didn't hear the crowd. I didn't hear anything."
3. The ugly start made the finish all the more beautiful
"The good stuff — a pair of ultra-dramatic Cardinals comebacks in the bottoms of the ninth and tenth innings — looked a lot better thanks to all the silliness at the beginning," says Roth. Between the two teams, five errors were committed — the most errors in a single World Series game since Game 1 last year, says Jordan Schelling at MLB.com. "With their three errors, the Cardinals had their most in a single World Series game since 1943." Yes, "truly, this was an ugly game for about six or seven innings," Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman tells MLB.com. "And then it got beautiful in a hurry right at the end."