ARLINGTON -- While confusion reigned in St. Louis' bullpen, redemption was the dominant theme for Texas' relievers.
Pressed into its first extensive service since the Cardinals' rout in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday, the Rangers' bullpen regained its form Monday by contributing 3 2/3 scoreless innings to the 4-2 triumph in Game 5 that gave Texas a 3-2 lead in the Fall Classic.
The efficiency of the Rangers' relievers contrasted sharply with Saturday, when St. Louis victimized them for 10 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in the Cardinals' 16-7 win. Before that, Texas' bullpen had recorded a 2.08 ERA in 12 postseason games.
"Game 3 was rough, but sometimes when you get blown out like that, you just chalk it up as like, 'Whatever,'" Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said. "We had our bad game, they had their good game and you can't let it drag with you for days later. The bullpen is what carried us in a lot of ways through the LCS and the Division Series. They're a big part of the team."
What a relief!
With reliever Darren Oliver picking up the victory in Game 5 of the World Series, the Rangers moved into a tie for second-most bullpen wins all-time in a single postseason.
Two of Texas' most resilient relievers in Game 5 were right-handers Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando, who combined to strand five of the 12 baserunners St. Louis marooned.
Feldman, who allowed three runs and two hits while walking two in 1 1/3 innings during Game 3, was the first of four relievers Texas manager Ron Washington summoned. Feldman entered the game with one out, David Freese on first base and St. Louis leading, 2-1. Despite yielding a single to the first Cardinal he faced, Yadier Molina, Feldman escaped unscathed by coaxing Skip Schumaker's grounder to first base and striking out Nick Punto.
"I think I just mixed up my pitches a little better and located my pitches better," said Feldman, who needed just nine pitches to finish the inning. Seven of them were strikes.
Next on the mound for Texas was the embattled Ogando, who surrendered pinch-hitter Allen Craig's go-ahead RBI singles in Games 1 and 2 before Albert Pujols crushed a three-run homer off him in Game 3. Six of seven batters reached base safely against Ogando in that outing.
Ogando improved marginally in Game 5, but it sufficed as he worked a messy yet scoreless seventh inning. He slipped a called third strike past Rafael Furcal before walking Craig, who was thrown out attempting to steal second base with Pujols batting. Ogando proceeded to walk Pujols, who rounded third base dangerously far on Matt Holliday's single. But as Pujols scampered back to third, Holliday advanced to second base on the throw home.
That prompted Washington to order Lance Berkman intentionally walked. That loaded the bases for Freese, who connected solidly with an Ogando fastball but drove it directly to center fielder Josh Hamilton for the inning-ending out.
"I got a good pitch to hit," Freese said. "I'm going to keep swinging at that pitch. I just didn't hit it exactly where I wanted to on the bat."
Ogando appreciated the opportunity to rebound. "Although I've faltered in a couple of games, [Washington] has always had confidence in me," he said in Spanish through an interpreter. "Sometimes you go through tough moments in games. That's part of the game. There are good times and bad times, and when I get a fresh chance I try to do the job."
As usual, Washington appreciated Ogando's effort.
"He fought," Washington said. "He was out there battling. You've got to give credit to the St. Louis Cardinals' hitters. They're pretty good hitters, and they made him work, but he didn't give in. He was out there battling, and that's what we do. We battle nine innings and he was a part of it, and he got the job done."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.