Napoli, Rangers on brink after Game 5 winOct 25, 2011 - 4:58 AM
Now, he has them on the brink of their first World Series title.
Napoli drove a go-ahead two-run double off the right field wall in the eighth inning Monday night to lift the Rangers to a 4-2 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5.
The catcher got his eighth and ninth RBI of the World Series and Texas took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series with a chance to capture its first championship in Game 6 Wednesday night in St. Louis.
Napoli didn't just knock in the winning runs, he caught Allen Craig stealing second base twice in the last three innings, including the ninth when Albert Pujols struck out into a double play.
In the seventh inning, Craig walked with one out and was caught stealing with Pujols at the plate on a play that was potentially a hit-and-run called by the batter.
Pujols, who tied a World Series record with three home runs in Game 3 on Saturday, was intentionally walked and Alexi Ogando ended up getting out of a bases-loaded jam.
"It was a mix up," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said of the Craig steal.
And it wasn't the only one.
Lefty Marc Rzepczynski pitched to Napoli in the eighth inning only because someone in the bullpen thought La Russa called and asked to get Lance Lynn ready instead of Jason Motte.
So Motte wasn't warmed up when La Russa needed him for the Napoli at-bat.
"What happened was that twice the bullpen didn't hear Motte's name," La Russa said. "I called back and asked for Motte and they got Lynn up.
"I don't know if it's noisy (back there). It's probably just noisy."
Octavio Dotel (0-1) took the loss for giving up Michael Young's leadoff double in the eighth and intentionally walking Nelson Cruz. Darren Oliver (1-0) got the win after he replaced Alexi Ogando with a runner on first in the top of the eighth and got three straight outs.
Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter pitched seven innings, allowing solo homers to Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre and giving up six total hits and two walks while striking out four.
C.J. Wilson started for Texas and gave up two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and five walks, striking out three. It was a pitching rematch of Game 1, which the Cardinals won.
After gunning down Craig, Napoli also got the final out in the ninth inning when he scrambled into foul territory on the first base side and threw out Lance Berkman after a strikeout pitch got away.
The Texas catcher had a career season this year after he was traded twice during a five-day period in January.
Napoli was dealt from the Angels to the Blue Jays, along with Juan Rivera, for Vernon Wells, then was acquired by the Rangers in exchange for pitcher Frank Francisco and cash considerations.
Now, he has two homers, nine RBI and a .308 batting average in the World Series.
"He's been one of the best players in all of baseball since the All-Star break," said Wilson. "I don't know if he's running for president in 2012, but I'd vote for him."
The Rangers have won two games in a row -- a first in this World Series, which was the first since 1997 to have alternating winning teams in the first four games.
Historically, the previous 41 teams to win Game 5 in a World Series that was tied went on to capture the title 27 times. But it's only happened on three of the last nine occasions.
The scheduled starters for Game 6 are Jaime Garcia for St. Louis and Colby Lewis for Texas.
Monday night marked the last game in Arlington this season because the Cardinals would also host Game 7 on Thursday if necessary.
Matt Holliday and Berkman walked to start the second inning and Yadier Molina delivered a one-out single through the left side to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.
Berkman went to third when David Murphy dropped the ball in left field, then scored when Moreland didn't cleanly field Skip Schumaker's grounder to first base.
Wilson committed an error on Rafael Furcal's bunt single leading off the third inning, backhanding a throw to first base that got past Moreland. But Wilson escaped a first-and-third jam when Holliday grounded into a double play.
Moreland made up for his fielding mistake in the second inning with a one-out blast in the bottom of the third, hammering Carpenter's 2-0 pitch halfway up the second deck in right field to get the Rangers within 2-1.
Carpenter had two outs and an 0-1 count, but Beltre dropped to his right knee and hammered a breaking pitch over the left field wall to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The Cardinals were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 men on base. The Rangers went 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 10 on...Carpenter entered the game 3-0 this postseason, while Wilson was 0-3.
- ST. LOUIS: 2
Oct 24 11:41 PM
- Mike Napoli double to right center scored Michael Young and Nelson Cruz with one out. On the play, David Murphy advances to third. Runners on second and third and Mitch Moreland due up.
Cardinals 2, Rangers 4 Bot 8, 1 OutOct 24 11:14 PM
- Adrian Beltre two-out, solo Home Run (1) to left. Nelson Cruz due up.
Cardinals 2, Rangers 2 Bot 6, 2 OutsOct 24 10:13 PM
- Mitch Moreland one-out, solo Home Run (1) to right. Ian Kinsler due up.
Cardinals 2, Rangers 1 Bot 3, 1 OutOct 24 9:03 PM
- Skip Schumaker ground out to first scored Lance Berkman with two outs. On the play, Yadier Molina advances to second. Runner on second and Nick Punto due up.
Cardinals 2, Rangers 0 Top 2, 2 OutsOct 24 8:37 PM
- ST. LOUIS: 0
Top 1, 0 Outs
Oct 24 8:10 PM
- Rangers sign Saunders Wed
- Rangers put Holland on 60-day DL, claim Parrino Mon
- Rangers extend Washington through 2015 Feb 24
- Rangers' Soto undergoes ankle surgery Feb 22
- Rangers reach agreement with Moreland Feb 14
- Rangers sign Hanson to one-year deal Feb 14
- Rangers Ballpark renamed Globe Life Park Feb 5
- Rangers give Bard, Galarraga minor league deals Feb 3
- Young hangs up the cleats Jan 31
- Young hangs up the cleats Jan 30
- Berkman decides to call it quits Jan 29
- Cards, Descalso agree on 1-year deal Jan 29