League championship MVP Nelson Cruz nearly played the hero again but his sliding effort to catch a slicing line drive came up short and allowed the run that gave the World Series opener to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cruz said he thought he could make the sixth-inning catch when the ball left the bat of pinch-hitter Allen Craig, but his cleats stuck in the ground as he slid and he could not quite reach the ball that was spinning away from him down the right field line.
David Freese, the NL championship Series MVP, trotted home from third on the two-out single off reliever Alexi Ogando, to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead that their relievers preserved.
When he hit the ball I thought I had a good chance to catch it, right-fielder Cruz told reporters at his locker.
I was expecting to go a little farther when I slid but I got stuck in the dirt. Baseball is like that, it's just inches. It can go either way.
Ogando said he placed the pitch to Craig exactly where he and catcher Mike Napoli wanted it.
Both of us agreed on that pitch, the Dominican reliever told reporters through an interpreter after Wednesday's game.
He (Napoli) asked me for an outside pitch and I agreed and I threw the pitch on the outside corner. That's where I wanted to locate the pitch. Give credit to the hitter.
It was tough to see that fall as a hit. Nelson Cruz made a good try to try and get it.
Texas starter C.J. Wilson, who was charged with that run and the loss, said Cruz had made so many spectacular catches for the Rangers that he thought he would snag it.
If you've seen Nelson play as much as I have, you figure he has a chance to get anything, Wilson said. It was down the line and just squirted by him. It happens.
Cruz crushed a postseason series record of six home runs in the Rangers' six-game victory over the Detroit Tigers to claim the AL pennant, but the Texas offense stalled against St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter.
Cruz said Carpenter, who gave up two runs on five hits in six innings for the win, was tough to hit. He managed one hit among the six registered by the Rangers.
He throws everything for strikes when he wants, said Cruz. Breaking pitches, fastballs, sinkers and cutters.
Game Two on Thursday will have Texas right-hander Colby Lewis facing southpaw Jaime Garcia.
We're really confident, Cruz said. We know we can bounce back tomorrow.