Cruz's bid for home run record robbed at wall

Cruz's bid for home run record robbed at wall

ST. LOUIS -- Plays at the wall have not been kind to Nelson Cruz lately.

With the Rangers trailing by three in the top of the sixth inning of their 6-2 loss to the Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series on Friday night at Busch Stadium, Cruz lifted a high, deep fly off Chris Carpenter. The ball sailed to left, seemingly destined to clear the wall and not only pull the Rangers closer, but give Cruz the record for home runs in a single postseason.

Left fielder Allen Craig had other ideas.

"I had a bead on it the whole way," Craig said. "I just didn't know if it was ever going to come down, since it was so high. I was just trying to find the spot where it was going to land. And it just happened to be right over the wall, and I'm glad I could catch it."

Craig tracked the ball to the wall and made a leaping grab to rob Cruz and the Rangers. And it was a big out, under the circumstances.

"I missed it," Cruz said of the 1-1 pitch he drove. "I wasn't sure that the ball was going to go out."

Cruz tied the record of eight homers, set by Barry Bonds in 2002 and matched by Carlos Beltran in 2004, in Game 6. But later in that game, he was unable to make a play at the wall on David Freese's two-run triple in the ninth, on which the Cardinals tied the game with the Rangers just one strike away from a World Series title.

Rangers manager Ron Washington refused to dwell on Cruz's inability to come up with the ball.

"We've always been a group of guys that win and lose together," Washington said. "The play wasn't made, and Nelson is not the one guy that should be singled out. Every single guy in that clubhouse feels the loss for that."

Cruz's 14 career postseason home runs are tied for the ninth-most in Major League history and mark the all-time postseason record over two calendar years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.