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 Back at Catcher, Napoli Puts Rangers on His Back

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Join date : 2010-12-06

PostSubject: Back at Catcher, Napoli Puts Rangers on His Back   Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:57 am

Mike Napoli’s pregame routine always includes taking a long hard look at the lineup posted on a wall of the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse. Before Game 4 of the World Series, he had extra reason to stare at where Manager Ron Washington had put him.

As the Rangers’ regular catcher, Napoli seemed to have his sense cheap jerseys from chinaof order disrupted by a move to first base for Game 3. He committed a two-run throwing error and was embroiled in a blown umpire’s call of a tag he made on a runner — not to mention that he had to watch from an unfamiliar position as the St. Louis Cardinals pummeled his pitchers.

“It was behind me when I left the field,” Napoli said. “I knew we had to come here and get a win, so I came back and went through my routine and let it go.”

Sunday night, he was back behind the plate, dropped one spot to eighth in the batting order, and again sparked the Rangers at a critical postseason juncture.

Napoli broke open Game 4 with a three-run homer in the sixthblackhawks jerseys inning as the Rangers tied the series at two games apiece with a 4-0 victory. After a pitching change, he blasted reliever Mitchell Boggs’s first pitch into the left-field seats, and became the first catcher to hit two home runs in a World Series since Mike Piazza of the Mets in 2000.

Perhaps more significant, Napoli steered his good friend and starter Derek Holland through a land-mine-laden Cardinals lineup that was coming off a 16-run, 15-hit performance. Holland fired a two-hitter and struck out seven in eight and one-third innings before Neftali Feliz finished off the shutout.

“His performance behind the plate gets overlooked because of the hit he got, but he kept Derek in an incredible rhythm,” second baseman Ian Kinsler said. “He made a couple of mound visits, kept” the pitching coach Mike Maddux in the dugout, “and kept Derek right on track.”

Washington said he didn’t want the left-handed hitters David Murphy miami heat jerseys and Mitch Moreland batting consecutively at the bottom of the order, so he inserted Napoli between them in the eighth spot. And with their bullpen in tatters, the Rangers desperately needed a lengthy quality start from Holland and for Napoli to guide him there.

“We both have a very strong chemistry,” Holland said. “He does a really good job of controlling my emotions, making sure I don’t get ahead of myself. A couple times tonight he was telling me to square up, especially in between innings.”

The plan, Napoli said, was for Holland to change speeds early to keep the nfl jerseys cheapCardinals guessing and thus allow them more flexibility in calling pitches as the game progressed.

“We didn’t miss a beat; we were on the same page, and he was throwing strikes,” Napoli said. “Those guys are good hitters. They hit mistakes. You’ve got to try to be down in the zone. Derek did that tonight.”

Napoli has driven in 7 of the Rangers’ 15 runs for the series. His other homer was a two-run blast off the Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter in Game 1, and his pair of sacrifice flies in Game 3 brought home two runs. He’ll face Carpenter again Monday night in Game 5 here, and try to coax a strong performance from Rangers starter C. J. Wilson, who’s 0-3 with a 7.17 earned run average this postseason.

“What Mike Napoli has done tonight, cheap jerseyswe’ve seen him do before, so I’m not surprised,” Washington said.

Napoli’s instincts told him he should anticipate that Cardinals starter Edwin Jackson would be pulled for his at-bat in the sixth when catcher Yadier Molina made a mound visit. “I saw Molina walk out there, a kind of slow jog,” Napoli said. “I’m a catcher. I know what that means sometimes. I wasn’t sure if he was going to stay in or not. You’ve got to wait to see if (Molina) walks back out there. He did, and I got my mind set for Boggs.”

Napoli knew that Boggs had a strong sinker, but figured Boggs might try to blow a fastball by him for a quick strike to get ahead in the count.
“In that situation, he’s probably trying to get a double-play ball,” Napoli said. “I was looking for something up and kind of had an idea they were probably going to pound me inside, and I just got a pitch up that I could handle.”
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