Unsung Rzepczynski key in World Series opener
Cardinals' lefty strikes out pair with 2 Rangers on base in 7th inning
Marc who? How do you spell that last name?
And who in the world is Allen Craig?
The World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals was supposed to be another stage for the game's biggest stars. Guys like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton who mash those monster homers. Pitchers like C.J. Wilson and Chris Carpenter who draw interest and create intrigue.
Go figure that it would be relief pitchers like Marc Rzepczynski and pinch hitters like Craig who would decide Game 1 on Wednesday night, a nip-and-tuck 3-2 victory for St. Louis.
"Well, we wouldn't have been here without those guys," said Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman, who drove in his team's first two runs with a timely single in the fourth inning.
"They've been tremendous," Berkman said. "It takes 25 guys to win."
Craig took his turn in the spotlight in the sixth inning, when David Freese was standing on third base with two outs. Pinch hitting for Chris Carpenter, Craig swung through two fastballs before he hit a slicing drive toward the right field line that bounced just in front of outfielder Nelson Cruz.
"Fortunate," Craig said. "Kept it fair, and Cruz made a great attempt on that."
The go-ahead RBI wound up being the winning run when the Cardinals bullpen came through.
Rzepczynski came in with runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, and he promptly struck out pinch-hitters Craig Gentry and Esteban German on seven total pitches.
Octavio Dotel and Arthur Rhodes handled the eighth inning without a problem, and Jason Motte — the best closer nobody seems to know about — worked a perfect ninth wrap up the win.
"It's going to be about matchups. They showed it tonight. Whoever is going to come through in those situations is going to come out on top," said the Rangers' Mike Napoli, another unsung player who drove in both his team's runs with a tying homer to right field.
"They got us tonight," he said, "but we're good at dusting things off and getting back out there."