ARLINGTON, Texas -- On paper, it looked like a major mismatch in St. Louis’ favor.
Mitch Moreland, the man with an itty-bitty .087 batting average this postseason, was up against big, bad Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. But after Carpenter missed with a couple of pitches, Moreland firmly believed he had the advantage.
“I got in a hitter’s count early,” Moreland said, “and got a good pitch.”
He got a great swing on the sinker that stayed up in the strike zone. Moreland, who had been working on being short and quick with his swing, hit the ball a far way.
The ball landed several rows deep in the upper deck of the home run porch. Moreland mashed it an estimated 424 feet, putting the Rangers on the scoreboard and getting the sellout crowd into the game.
“You can look at batting average and see that a guy is struggling over 15 or 20 at-bats, but sometimes it just takes one swing,” David Murphy said. “Even if his numbers don’t show it as a whole at the end of the postseason, those hits are definitely big.
“Obviously, the hit that he had tonight, that’s a huge part of the game right there. That got us on the board. That got us energized. It was just a great swing.”
Funny thing is, the rationale for leaving Moreland as the ninth hitter in the lineup for the second straight night is that he’s the Rangers’ best defensive first baseman. His night in the field was somewhat of an adventure.
Moreland misplayed a grounder in the second inning to allow Lance Berkman to score from third. The ball was on the lip of the grass and Moreland made the split-second decision to just get in front of it and get the out at first instead of charging it and trying to keep the run off the board.
Moreland also missed a scoop on an Elvis Andrus throw from the hole in the eighth inning, allowing Yadier Molina to reach base. But that didn’t lead to any damage, and Moreland more than made up for it with a difficult stretch to pick a throw from Andrus for the final out of the eighth inning.
But Moreland’s Game 5 performance will be remembered for his tape-measure home run. His only hit of this World Series so far was a big, long, loud one.