Rangers bit by record number of walks issued
Texas hands out 41 free passes; four score in final two games
ST. LOUIS -- In the quiet visiting clubhouse of an otherwise-frenzied Busch Stadium on Friday night, Mike Adams was asked to provide the biggest reason why this Texas team once again came up short in its second consecutive trip to the World Series.
The Rangers reliever never hesitated.
"Walks," he said. "Walks hurt us. It's tough to get away with that many walks. Whenever you walk people, you pay for it, especially against a team like this. I think that was the biggest factor as far as that's what made the difference and won the Series [for the Cardinals]."
While falling in seven games to St. Louis -- the last a 6-2 score -- the Texas pitching staff issued 41 walks, setting a new World Series record -- topping the 40 set by the 1997 Marlins team that won in seven.
Six of those walks came in the season finale, and one of those was particularly disputed.
Walk on the wild side
|Cleveland Indians||1997||63 2/3||36|
|Toronto Blue Jays||1993||53||34|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||1981||52||33|
|New York Yankees||1955||60||33|
|New York Yankees||1956||61 2/3||32|
|St. Louis Cardinals||1926||63||31|
Trailing by a run with one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the fifth, Rangers manager Ron Washington elected to intentionally walk eventual World Series Most Valuable Player David Freese. Scott Feldman walked Yadier Molina on a full count to bring in another run, and C.J. Wilson came out of the bullpen and plunked Rafael Furcal to put Texas down three.
Pitch f/x had Feldman's 3-2 fastball catching the outside corner and, thus, home-plate umpire Jerry Layne missing the call.
If he's given that pitch, perhaps this is a different game -- a different Series.
"Pretty close," Feldman said.
Did he think it was a strike?
"I don't know. I'm not an umpire. If you let me umpire, I'd call everything a strike. There's certain pitches that you can always look back on and complain about, or whatever. But it really doesn't do any good."
Regardless, the Rangers put themselves into trouble by teetering around the edges and uncharacteristically issuing a fair share of free passes. Eventually, it caught up to them.
From Games 2-5 of this World Series, Texas prevented each of its 38 walked batters from scoring. But in Game 6, Lance Berkman worked a ninth-inning walk and came around to score the tying run. And in Game 7, three of the Rangers' six walks turned into Cardinals runs.
The Rangers had fewer walks than 23 teams during the regular season and had only issued 21 intentional ones, the fourth-lowest total in baseball. Yet after walking 36 through 10 games in its first two rounds, Texas walked a historic number in the Fall Classic -- nine of which were done intentionally.
C.J. Wilson surrendered 11 free passes in 12 1/3 innings, Alexi Ogando walked seven in 2 2/3, Feldman issued six in five frames and Neftali Feliz handed out four walks in his 3 2/3 innings.
"Maybe we tried to be a little bit too fine," Adams said, before shaking his head and struggling to come up with some logical reasoning for the walks.
"I'm not sure. I can't really explain why. Maybe we tried to be too perfect, and it came back and bit us."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.