OKLAHOMA CITY, October 28, 2011—The ball didn’t go between his legs, but Nelson Cruz might have put himself in World Series history with his play in the ninth inning of Game 6 Thursday night. The Rangers were one strike away from winning its first ever championship. David Freese of the Cardinals got a hit with two men on over Cruz to tie the game.
Down to their final strike in the 11th to stay alive, the Rangers gave up a walk-off home run to Freese to end the game.
I always believed that Bill Buckner got a raw deal for what happened in 1986. The Red Sox down to their final strike and the ball goes through his legs to send it to Game 7. The Red Sox lost the series and Buckner has been in the Hall of Shame ever since. Buckner was a great baseball player with a legacy, for most, is one misplay.
Anything can happen in Game 7, and if the Rangers win it then all is forgiven for Cruz. But if the Rangers lose, his play could be seen for years to come.
Much like the Buckner game, it wasn’t just one play. The Rangers and the Cardinals combined for five errors in an all-around sloppy game. So a lot had to happen to get to that play, and a lot had to go wrong after it. Cruz also hit a bomb in the 7th to increase the Rangers lead, and was the ALCS MVP, so it’s not as if he hadn’t contributed.
But this play is different than Buckner’s. Buckner was at first base, and it was a fluke play. Yes, he should have made the play but grounders take funny hops, and Buckner was usually pulled in the 9th for defense. He made a mistake.
But as an outfielder you never let a ball go over your head with a lead in the 9th. Cruz has had two misplays on defense in the series. One in Game 1 that allowed the Cardinals to score and now letting a double go over his head with one strike away.
Game 7 is Friday night. The championship is on the line. So is Cruz’s legacy.
Jason Black is a regular sports contributor on America’s Morning News and America’s Radio News. Coincidently, or not, he also does movie reviews for KJ103 and102.1 Kissin’ Country. You can also follow Jason on Twitter @jasonblack23.
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