By Zachary Finkelstein
ST. LOUIS (CBSDFW.COM) – On the sport’s biggest stage Thursday night, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers remained deadlocked for practically nine rounds of riveting World Series play. And in a Fall Classic affair where one swing threatened to flip the outcome at any time, the American League’s entry overcame eight innings of offensive ineptitude to eke out a 2-1 win with a pair of runs during the game’s final frame.
Included below is an inside-the-numbers analysis of the 2011 World Series’ second game.
Texas ties game, takes lead in historic fashion: Michael Young became the first man in World Series history to lift his team to triumph via a top-of-the-ninth-inning sacrifice fly. The game-deciding play immediately followed a game-tying sac fly, off the bat of a struggling Josh Hamilton, who stepped up to the plate for his team — literally and figuratively — when it needed him most. Amazingly, the Rangers became the first squad in Fall Classic history to record the game-tying and game-winning runs via the sac fly.
Texas also became the first team to win a Fall Classic affair after overcoming a deficit in its final at-bat since the Arizona Diamondbacks prevailed over the New York Yankees in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
Key win: With the Series now tied at one game apiece, the Rangers and Redbirds became the 55th set of championship round squads to head into Game 3 all knotted up. In the previous 54 occasions that a World Series was tied after two, the victor of the second contest went on to win it all 29 times (53.7 percent). Overcoming a two-games-to-none deficit proves to be a much more daunting task, however. Of the 52 teams that have taken a 2-0 World Series advantage, 41 (78.8%) ended up as the last squad standing.
“It wasn’t a Series-saving rally, but it was huge,” said Ian Kinsler, whose ninth-inning single and steal spurred Texas’ triumph.
Historic power outage: The Rangers and Cardinals traded zeroes until the bottom of the seventh, the second straight night the Fall Classic remained scoreless through at least three frames. And contrary to the cliché that “good pitching beats good hitting,” this was only the second time that both Fall Classic foes took shutouts into the fourth during Games 1 and 2. The only other occasion occurred during the 1961 World Series between the New York Yankees and Cincinnati Reds.
In plating a pair of runs in their final at-bat, the Rangers snapped a 12-inning scoreless streak dating back to the fifth frame of Wednesday’s Game 1.
On a related note, Game 2 was the first Fall Classic affair sans a long ball from either squad since the Red Sox and Rockies failed to go yard during the second game of the 2007 Fall Classic.
Garcia represents: In firing Game 2’s initial offering, St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia became the first Mexican-born hurler to start a World Series affair since Los Angeles Dodgers southpaw Fernando Valenzuela toed the rubber during the 1981 Fall Classic.
“Well, obviously that’s really exciting,” said Garcia of the comparison. “I just found out [that I would be the first Mexican-born starter during the World Series in 30 years] yesterday, too, when they were asking me. I’m thrilled to hear that, and I’m going to go out there and represent the team, my family and not only my hometown but the whole country of Mexico. I know they’ve been really good, watching me the whole year in these playoffs, and I’m really proud of that. ”
Garcia had the right to be proud during the postgame, too, after scattering three hits over seven scoreless frames. He also fanned seven Rangers to become the eighth Redbird to strikeout as many in a World Series game.
Nerve wrecking: Thursday’s one-run game was the 12th of the 2011 playoffs, tying for the most slimmest-of-margin affairs in a single postseason since the advent of the Division Series in 1995 (also done in 1995, 1997 and 2003).
Neftali Feliz: Collected his fifth save of the 2011 postseason and has converted each of his opportunities this October (three in ALDS, one in ALCS and one in World Series). In 8 2/3 innings pitched, he has allowed just one run (1.04 ERA) on three hits with five walks and seven strikeouts.
Zach Finkelstein is a contributing writer for YESNetwork.com and SNY.tv.