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Mundane Mixup Helps Rangers Take 3-2 Lead In World Series

If anyone asks you why the Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 last night to take a 3-2 lead in the World Series, tell them it was a missed call.

But it wasn't, as NPR's Mike Pesca said on Morning Edition, a mistake made by an umpire.

No, it was a "mundane and bizarre" miscommunication between Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa and the coaches in his bullpen.

It seems that in the 8th inning when the score was tied at 2, Rangers catcher Mike Napoli (one of the stars of the previous night's game) came to bat. Two of his teammates were on base.

Napoli is a right-handed batter. The Cardinals pitcher at the moment was Marc Rzepczynski, a lefty who has a pretty bad record against right-handed batters. So the logical thing for LaRussa to do, as everyone watching knew, was to bring in Cardinals closer Jason Motte to pitch. He's a righty who specializes in getting guys like Napoli out.

But Motte didn't leave the bullpen for the mound.

It turns out that LaRussa had called the bullpen — twice — to say he wanted Motte to be ready to go in. But bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist misheard. So Motte never got ready. And Napoli slapped a double. Two runs scored. The Rangers won. And now the Cardinals face elimination when Game 6 is played Wednesday in St. Louis (game time is 8:05 p.m. ET; Fox is the broadcaster).

And it's all because of what was "a ridiculous, inexcusable miscommunication," says St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz.

On Morning Edition, Mike referred to two other famous World Series mishaps — the "Merkle boner" and the "Snodgrass error." According to the Baseball Hall of Fame:

-- The Merkle boner happened on Sept. 23, 1908, when "Fred Merkle of the New York Giants commits one of the most famous gaffes in baseball history. In a crucial game against the Chicago Cubs, Merkle fails to touch second base as the apparent winning run scores. The Cubs argue the play with umpire Hank O'Day, who later declares the game a tie."

"On October 8, 1908, the Chicago Cubs and New York Giants replay their disputed game of September 23, when Fred Merkle failed to touch second base, negating a Giant victory. In the replay, Mordecai Brown earns a 4-2 win over Christy Mathewson to give Chicago the pennant. "

-- The Snodgrass error came "on October 16, 1912, the Boston Red Sox win the World Series — thanks in part to an error by New York Giants center fielder Fred Snodgrass. In the bottom of the 10th, Snodgrass drops a fly ball, helping the Sox put together a game-winning rally."

Anyone got a good name for what happened to the Cardinals Monday night?

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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