(Reuters) – The Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Monday to move within one win of claiming their first World Series title since the franchise was born in 1961.
The victory gave Texas a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.
A two-run double by Mike Napoli in the bottom of the eighth inning snapped a 2-2 tie to lift the Rangers over a Cardinals team that squandered a multitude of chances, leaving 12 men on base while hitting 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The series shifts to St. Louis for Game Six on Wednesday, with the Rangers starting Colby Lewis against Jaime Garcia.
RELATED: Napoli, Rangers move 1 win from World Series crown
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — A long drive by Mike Napoli, a lucky bounce near the mound and suddenly the Texas Rangers were on the brink of their first World Series championship.
Napoli delivered the biggest hit of his charmed season, lining a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning that sent the Rangers past the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Monday night for a 3-2 edge.
The slugging catcher then capped off his night of double duty, throwing out a would-be base stealer in the ninth as Albert Pujols struck out.
“Pujols is going to put it in play, he’s a good contact hitter,” Napoli said, “and they were just starting the runner, 3-2. As soon as I got it, I just got rid of it and put it on the bag.”
Texas will try to wrap it up in Game 6 on Wednesday night in St. Louis.
If the Rangers eventually do win that elusive crown, the Texas fans who stood and chanted Napoli’s name may forever remember his two-run hit.
“Just trying to get something to the outfield, you know, get a sac fly, get that run across the board,” Napoli said. “I was trying to stay short and I got a pitch I could handle over the middle of the plate and put it in the gap.”
If the Cardinals lose, there’s no doubt which play will stick with manager Tony La Russa for a long, long time.
It was 2-all when Texas put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth, and reliever Marc Rzepczynski was summoned. David Murphy followed with a bouncer back to the mound, a possible inning-ending double play in the making.
But the ball appeared to glance off Rzepczynski’s knee and trickled harmlessly away for a single that loaded the bases. In the dugout, La Russa immediately threw his hands to his head, a true “Oh, no!” moment.
Napoli, who came close to a three-run homer in his previous at-bat, sent a drive up the alley against the pitcher with the nickname “Scrabble.” The double off Rzepczynski sure spelled good things for Texas, with excitable manager Ron Washington waving the runners around from the dugout.
Darren Oliver earned the win and Neftali Feliz closed for his second save of the Series and sixth of the postseason.
After a travel day, the Series will resume at Busch Stadium with Colby Lewis facing Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia. The weather forecast in St. Louis is daunting, calling for rain and temperatures around 50.
Bryant suffered a quadriceps injury in the season opener at the New York Jets on a punt return but with the decision to release wide receiver Dwayne Harris last week, Bryant got the nod vs. St. Louis. Bryant, Kevin Ogletree and Terence Newman worked at punt returners during last week’s practice.
“We still want to have options back there as we go forward,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Dez is actually the most reliable guy catching the ball, the most experienced guy catching punts besides being a guy who’s probably our most dangerous playmaker back there. So the combination of those things and his health led us to give him the opportunities.”
Bryant returned only one punt for 7 yards and had two fair catches. Garrett said the decision to fair catch was more of a result of the rush calls the special teams’ unit had than the team wanting Bryant to be careful.
“When he has the opportunity based on the situation and what we have on, we’ll certainly take advantage of it if he gets the right kick,” Garrett said.
POLL: Are the Dallas Cowboys making a mistake by letting Dez Bryant return punts?
Photo courtesy: JERRY LARA | SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS
IRVING, Texas — At 3-3, the Cowboys are only one game out of first place in the NFC East behind the New York Giants.
None of that matters to Jason Garrett right now. Only Sunday’s foe, Philadelphia, matters.
“It’ll be a great challenge for us,” Garrett said. “They’re an awfully good football team playing at their place. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on both sides of the ball. We know the challenges of the Cowboys playing the Eagles. We’ve got to get locked in on that. We’re not real concerned about division races in the seventh game of the season. There’s a lot of football to be played. We’ve got to play our best football and the way we do that is come to work on Wednesday and have a great Wednesday and keep working from there.”
That’s not to say Garrett avoids big-picture views. Maybe he is aware that the Cowboys next six opponents have a combined 12-24 record. Maybe he knows this is where his team can string together some wins.
But he continues to deliver the “be great today” message for a reason.
“I do think it’s important to focus on what you can control right now,” Garrett said. “I’ve been on teams where coaches say, ‘OK, guys, we’re going to split the season up in four segments. It’s going to be four quarters, so we want to go 3-1 in every quarter.’ OK, so, if we’re 4-0 in the first quarter are we trying to go 2-2 in the second? Really what we’re trying to do is be our best every day and try to win a game. That’s what we’re trying to do. Sometimes people get so concerned about what’s happening at the end of the season. We have these division games at the end of the season. Really what we’re trying to do is be our best today, to win this game this week and put ourselves in a good position when we play those division games.”
|ST. LOUIS RAMS|
IRVING, Texas — The Cowboys had 60 snaps against St. Louis on Sunday and more than a third of them came with two running backs and two tight ends on the field.
To the football world, that is 22 personnel and it worked beautifully against the Rams.
“I think we just controlled where they were going to line up,” Witten said. “They’re a 4-3 team and they were late in getting the safety down so we were able to get a lot of double teams on them and I think we got some good blocks. But obviously DeMarco ran really well.”
Murray’s two longest runs – 91 and 43 yards – did not come out of that grouping but Phillip Tanner’s 6-yard touchdown run was out of 22 personnel. At one point Jason Garrett ran four straight plays out of 22 personnel in the second half and at least 17 total in the third and fourth quarters.
“It was working,” running game coordinator/offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. “We were making yards and we had a few passes off that and then a few kills off that where we could pass if we wanted to. But why put it in the air other than when we had to?”
I’m sure it’s happening all over the country today. It’s happened already on our radio show a little.
But while Cowboys fans are probably a little relieved to not only see their team win for the first time in 27 days, but finally put a game out of reach and not have to nail-bite to the end, they’re probably hearing coworkers and friends sing the same tune:
“It’s just the Rams.” Yeah, that’d be the 0-6 Rams who entered the game with the NFL’s worst-ranked rushing defense and that will only get worse now after a 294-yard outing, the fourth-best in Cowboys’ history.
And yes, I understand the Cowboys whipped up on a team that should get to play the winner of the upcoming LSU-Alabama game, but they all count, right?
I’m not saying the Cowboys are bound for the playoffs because they smashed the Rams, but they shouldn’t feel bad about getting a lopsided win for a change.
Think about these two points.
1) The Rams were pretty bad back in 2008, too and yet they dominated the Cowboys in a game that many fans will tell you is one of the worst in franchise history. The Cowboys had a few of those that season. Just because a team is so-called “bad” doesn’t guarantee anything. After last year, the Cowboys will take any kind of win.
2) After the Cowboys lost a close one last week to New England, did anyone say, “yeah, but it’s the Patriots?” No one seemed to care that you almost won against a good team. I’m sure the critics just said “hey, you lost.”
Well, if that’s the case, don’t ask the Cowboys or their fans to apologize for getting a win like this. They’ve played some good teams on their schedule so far, so now it’s evening out a little.
That’s the way football goes.
The Boys Are Back commentary: After the impressive win today (yes, it was expected) against the St Louis Rams, the media are already criticizing DeMarco Murray’s performance. Not only in Dallas, but around the country. So far, five other teams in the NFL have had the same opportunity to produce a similar record this season. None have. Jason Garrett and the staff had an excellent gameplan. It worked. Rookie DeMarco Murray should feel good about his accomplishment today … it’s historic. He broke an 18-year-old record! I hope the negative drama-loving press does not continue to demoralize him, the offensive lines effort, or the blockers that did their jobs! They worked hard this week and played well. They deserve credit. The Dallas Cowboys face the Philadelphia Eagles next Sunday night. Dallas won’t rush for 253 yards against them. But they should enter the game with renewed confidence in the running game … after this weeks exceptional performance.
IRVING — Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher and offensive guard Derrick Dockery will return to practice Wednesday after missing the last few weeks with injuries.
Hatcher injured his left calf in the home opener against Washington in Week 3. Dockery suffered a slight fracture of his right tibia and a sprained MCL in his right knee in Week 2 at San Francisco.
“If I do good Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I plan to play Sunday,” Hatcher said. “I’m feeling good. I haven’t had nobody push on me or come off the ball on me.”
Hatcher said he passed his final test Monday in changing directions and making cuts, clearing the way for him to return to practice Wednesday.
After a great training camp, Hatcher began the season as a starter. While out with his calf injury, Hatcher has been replaced by Marcus Spears. Hatcher said he’s not worried about starting when he returns to the field.
“That ain’t even been brought up and it’s not even a concern of mine,” Hatcher said. “My thing is, I’ve been here the whole time and whenever I come back, whatever I’ll be, I’ll be. I’ll be back and do my part. We have fun over here. We don’t bicker about who is a starter and who is not. We’ve got a great six-man rotation so anybody can play. At the end of the day, guys are going to get snaps, so we’re not worried about who is starting and who is not.”
Dockery, when asked if he plans to play Sunday at Philadelphia, said, “We’ll see.” Dockery said he’s physically ready to go now.
RELATED: Felix Jones doubtful for Eagles game; DeMarco Murray to get his first start
Look for rookie running back DeMarco Murray to follow up his record setting rushing performance with his first career start against the Eagles on Sunday.
Starting running back Felix Jones, who missed the Rams game with a high ankle sprain, is doubtful for the Eagles game. Team trainers have all but ruled Jones out saying the injury will likely take closer to four weeks to heal.
Murray said he doesn’t care about starting but its clear he will be the lead back during Jones’ absence if not beyond.
Coach Jason Garrett said Murray deserves more opportunities following the 253-yard effort against the Rams.
Romo took a shot the last four games after fracturing a rib in the Sept. 18 comeback win over the San Francisco 49ers. He said after Sunday’s 34-7 win over the St. Louis Rams that he doesn’t expect to need a shot before next week’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“It felt more comfortable, if that makes sense,” said Romo, who threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-24 passing against the Rams. “You know you can take a hit when your ribs are broken and deal with it, but I think by next week they’ll be good to go without the shot.”
Romo, who also suffered a small puncture in his lung that healed the week after he rallied the Cowboys to the win in San Francisco, has been wearing a Kevlar vest to protect the ribs. He said he has not determined whether he will continue to wear the vest.
The best thing the Cowboys can do to protect Romo is to keep their running game going. The Cowboys entered Sunday’s game ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing offense (84.8 yards per game), but they exploded for 294 yards on the ground against the Rams. Rookie DeMarco Murray, a third-round pick, gained 253 yards on 25 carries to break Emmitt Smith’s franchise record for rushing yardage in a game.
“There was less pressure on the quarterback today than there was in other games,” Romo said, “and that’s in direct relation to the running game.”
WASHINGTON — NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday he supports a proposal to allow conferences to increase grants to student athletes by $2,000 “to more closely approach” the full cost of attending college, beyond the athletic scholarships athletes receive for tuition, fees, room, board and books.
Emmert told the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics that the proposal will be finalized this week and he’ll ask the NCAA Division I Board of Directors to support it. He noted that student athletes have limited opportunities to work outside the classroom and playing fields, and that the current model of athletic scholarship hasn’t changed for 40 years.
Emmert said he’ll also ask the board to allow colleges and universities to provide multiyear grants, instead of year-to-year scholarships.
“This week, I’ll be asking the board to support a proposal to allow conferences — not mandate anyone, but allow conferences, not individual institutions — to increase the value of an athletic grant in aid to more closely approach the full cost of attendance,” Emmert said.
“We are going to create a model that would allow — probably … up to $2,000 in addition to” tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies.
Additional bids for the Dallas Stars were not filed by last weekend’s deadline, clearing the way for Tom Gaglardi of Vancouver to complete his purchase of the team.
The next step in the process is a Nov. 23 hearing in a Delaware bankruptcy court, where the court will consider approval of the sale, confirmation of the Stars’ bankruptcy plan and hear any objections to the sale.
Approval of the NHL Board of Governors is also needed for the deal to be finalized.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement on the Stars’ sale Monday.
“Now that the bidding deadline has been reached, we will continue our due diligence process and will proceed with the board’s ownership transaction review process,” Daly said. “We also will work with the courts in the continued hope of bringing this matter to a successful and expeditious resolution.”
Gaglardi is the president of Northland Properties Corp., which he and his family run. The company owns and operates Sandman Hotels, Inns and Suites, Denny’s Restaurants of Canada, Moxie’s Restaurants and Shark Clubs. Northland owns 45 hotels with 6,400 rooms, owns more than 100 restaurants, and employs more than 10,000.
Gaglardi leads the ownership group of the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. The ownership group includes Shane Doan, Mark Recchi, Jarome Iginla and Darryl Sydor.
Gaglardi, a lifelong hockey fan, has strong Texas ties. His mother is from Longview and he has family in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
He’ll take over a team that, according to court documents, lost $37.9 million in the last fiscal year and $91.5 million over the last three seasons. The Stars are expected to lose $31 million this season.
Court documents state that Gaglardi is “committed to keeping the Stars in Dallas and rebuilding the franchise both in terms of on-ice success and the fan experience.”
With the score 7-0, the Cowboys strong safety forced a Cadillac Williams’ fumble after a 17-yard pick up to the Dallas 37 by the Rams running back and scooped up the loose ball for the turnover. Tackle Jason Smith was hurt on the play and the Rams elected to challenge the call, believing Elam was out-of-bounds when he recovered the fumble.
“I knew I had re-established myself,” Elam said.
Sunday was Elam’s best game of the season. He was credited with a team-high eight tackles and had three tackles for loss.
While his forced fumble was an important play, the most prideful play might have been on the Cowboys’ final defense snap. On fourth and 1 from the Dallas 1, the Rams tried to run Steven Jackson to the right for a meaningless touchdown but Elam shot the gap and brought down the big running back for a 5-yard loss.
Even up 27 points the Cowboys did not want to give up a touchdown.
“I’m happy about the win,” Elam said. “Those are plays within the game that help us get the win. I’m pleased with my performance. There are some things I know we’ll get corrected but we’re on the right track.”
PHOTO: Dallas Cowboys DeMarco Murray runs for a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams during the first half at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011. JERRY LARA
DeMarco Murray (born February 12, 1988) is a running back for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football for the Oklahoma Sooners. Murray was selected in the third round (71st overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys.
DeMarco Murray signed a four-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys worth $2.97 million including a signing bonus worth $622,000 on July 29, 2011.
On October 23, 2011 he ran 253 yards against the St. Louis Rams at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, breaking Emmitt Smith’s single game rushing record for a Dallas Cowboys running back of 237 yards (set at Philadelphia against the Eagles on October 31, 1993) on October 23, 2011. The record total included a first-quarter 91-yard touchdown run that is second longest in Cowboys history, after a NFL-record 99-yard run by Tony Dorsett in January 1983.
ARLINGTON • Felix Jones started at halfback for the Cowboys the first five games of the season and Tashard Choice drew the assignment in the sixth game Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.
It should be a while before either starts again.
If DeMarco Murray is worthy of walking with legends, he’s certainly worthy of starting for the Cowboys.
Murray erased the names of Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Jim Brown from the record book with the finest performance by an NFL runner this season — a 253-yard explosion against the hapless Rams in a 34-7 victory.
Nick Benbrook (left), a Cardinals fan, and Will Head, a Rangers fan, keep an eye on the Rams game while watching batting practice before Game 4 of the World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers Sunday, October 23, 2011 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Photo by Laurie Skrivan
ARLINGTON, Texas • The hulking Cowboys Stadium casts a Texas-sized shadow over Rangers Ballpark.
As the lesser-known brick-face ballpark next door prepared to host the Cardinals in the World Series on Sunday, Cowboys Stadium welcomed the St. Louis Rams.
St. Louis fans in town on Sunday clamored to get tickets to see both of their hometown teams collide in the same city, but the reaction here to the coincidental contests punctuated what everyone already knows: This is football country.
Star outfielders Lance Berkman of the Cardinals and Josh Hamilton of the Rangers were on the football field as guests for the ceremonial coin-toss. They represented cities who are as different as the two sides of the coin: Dallas loves the Cowboys like St. Louis loves the Cardinals.
Cowboys rookie running back DeMarco Murray had the performance of his life Sunday in a win against St. Louis, racking up 253 rushing yards on 25 carries. Murray bumped down the names of Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith from the team’s record book. Murray broke Smith’s Cowboys single-game record for rushing yards in a game of 237 and broke Tony Dorsett’s single-game rushing mark for Dallas Cowboys rookies of 206 yards.
After the breakout performance by DeMarco Murray, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith used their Twitter accounts to congratulate the Dallas Cowboys’ third-round pick out of Oklahoma.
“D.Murray congratulations on your performance today for the Cowboys,” Dorsett said via his official Twitter account of @Tony_Dorsett.
Emmitt Smith added on his official Twitter account of @EmmittSmith22,
“congrats to @DeMarcoMurray AWESOME job …we needed this #dallas #cowboys #nfl”
This morning, Smith came back with another message for Murray that could stick with the rookie over the next few weeks:
“In order to be the best, you must be consistent for a long time,” Smith said on his Twitter account. “Hopefully this is the start of things to come.”
IRVING, Texas — Rams quarterback Sam Bradford isn’t surprised rookie running back DeMarco Murray is starting to make an impact on the Cowboys’ offense. Bradford knows him well: the two were teammates on a very successful Oklahoma program.
Murray actually worked out some with his close friend and former roommate during the NFL lockout while unable to join his new Cowboys teammates in official practices.
“I think one of the main things I told him is have fun with it, because it’s a great job to have,” Bradford said via conference call this week. “Other than that, I told him it was going to be a lot of work and make sure he put in the time on and off the field to get himself prepared to play each week. It’s a long season, so just making sure his body can stand up for 16, 17 games.”
Bradford is listed as questionable for Sunday with a high ankle sprain after not practicing all week. Meanwhile, Murray has gotten extra practice reps with starter Felix Jones out with a high ankle sprain. Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said Friday on KRLD-FM that DeMarco Murray would likely split carries with Tashard Choice.
“Very anxious,” Murray said this week. “Just hoping Felix makes a full recovery. But I’m ready for this. I’ve practicing hard. Coach Skip Peete (Running Backs) has been giving me opportunities and I’ve done well with opportunities. But hopefully there are more to come.”
IRVING, Texas – No one could’ve predicted a 252-yard rushing day for DeMarco Murray, and 294 on the ground for the Cowboys as a team, a little under three quarters of their total in the season’s first five games.
But it was easy to see this was setting up to be a better day than the Cowboys had been having on the ground, and in a lot of other ways. The 34-7 win was what the Cowboys were supposed to do against a bad team.
The Cowboys had played a lot of good teams to start the year. They drew the Jets in an unwinnable 9/11 anniversary in which they somehow didn’t commit a single penalty to start the season, then got better-than-expected San Francisco on the road, then-undefeated Washington, then-undefeated Detroit and the great Patriots. Finally, things are letting up.
The Rams were winless when they came in, and the left winless, with their huge average margin of defeat only widened. Up next is a crucial, and tough game at Philadelphia.
After that, Seattle at home. Then Buffalo at home. Then at the getting-worse Redskins. Miami for Thanksgiving. At Arizona.
The Cowboys can make a major move here in the next month or so. No game will be a gimmie, obviously, but the upcoming schedule looks like a definite plus.
“You take each of them individually,” Jason Garrett said. “You play 16 games and count them up at the end. What we’re trying to do is get better every week and take advantage of our opportunity on Sunday.”
Garrett will make sure to keep his message the same in both good times and bad, but there are sure to be more good in the coming weeks.
There is reason to believe the Cowboys are better than every team they will meet until at least December. They just have to prove it.
Against the Rams on Sunday, they showed the ability to meet expectations.
“We needed to win this game,” Jerry Jones said. “We needed to be 3-3. We’ve got a team that can get out of contention with our recrod. But if we can be in contention, we’ve got a team that can be better.”
Here are some notes compiled by the Cowboys’ staff after the team’s 34-7 victory over the Rams:
Dallas’ 34 points today was the most since scoring 38 in the overtime win at Indianapolis (12/5/10) and the most in a non-overtime game since 35 against Detroit (11/21/10).
Dan Bailey’s two field goals today upped his streak of consecutive field goals made to 16 to tie Nick Folk (16) for the fourth-longest streak and second-longest by a rookie in club history: