Cardinals victory caps epic title chase

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Mike McMahon
Journal Staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

The St. Louis Cardinals constructed an epic comeback to defeat the Texas Rangers in one of the most dramatic World Series in recent history. No World Series has provided so many climatic moments over a seven game period.
It was the first World Series to go to a seventh game since 2002 when the Angles defeated Barry Bonds and the Giants. But so many things stood out during this series that will make it memorable while the only thing I remember about the 2002 series was the Angels’ rally monkey and Giants first baseman J.T. Snow swooping up Dusty Baker’s son, who had run onto the field during play, as he crossed home plate.
In a series that garnered small expectations in terms of excitement, we all certainly got more than what we could have hoped for. Game 1 showed us key managerial moves from Tony La Russa, who put trust in the bullpen by batting Allen Craig for Carpenter in the sixth to get the game–winning run, and also Ron Washington, who may have left C.J. Wilson in too long. Wilson walked six through 5.2 innings.
The Cardinals’ pitching performance from Chris Carpenter was marvelous, only blundering a two-run homer to the star for the Rangers in the series, Mike Napoli. But it was the bullpen shutting down the potent Rangers offense, which is slightly comedic considering what happened in game 5, that made the difference in game 1 giving the Cardinals the game 3-2.
Game 2 brought another pitcher’s dual and another key pitch-hit opportunity for Cardinals’ outfielder Allen Craig. But the Rangers sparked a two run rally in the ninth led by speed on the base paths from Ian Kinsler, who stole second then moved to third on a base hit from Elvis Andrus, who reached second because Albert Pujols miss played the cut off throw from the outfield.
The Rangers then got two sacrifice flies to generate the game tying and game winning runs and go up 2-1, the first time in World Series history the game tying and game winning runs were both generated off of sacrifice flies, this series was already making history.
Game 3 may not have been like the close games we were getting used to as the Cardinals won 16-7, but Albert Pujols did belt three home runs, joining Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth as the only people to attain such a feat.
With the series at 2-1 in favor of the Cardinals, Derek Holland provided the best pitching performance the Rangers would get in the series in Game 4, going 8.2 innings, surrendering only two hits as the Ranger won 4-0.
Game 5 now looked like it would become the pivotal game in a series that was now tied. The Rangers pulled out the victory 4-2 despite another shaky performance from C.J. Wilson who walked another five batters and only struck out three.  But game 5 brought us a moment that this series will be remembered for, “Bullpen-gate”.
Tony La Russa was unable to communicate with his bullpen from the dugout and thus unable to get the correct pitching matchup. Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski was brought in to face the right-handed and potent Mike Napoli, rather than closer and righty, Jason Motte. Napoli would deliver the game-deciding hit off of Rzepczynski.
That brings us to game 6, and oh what a game it was. A game that may be the greatest game in World Series history, with constant back and forth scoring and the most climatic ending since Joe Carter hit that walk off to clinch the 1992 World Series. David Freese put the game in extra innings with a game-tying triple in the ninth.
In extras, it was all thought to be over. Josh Hamilton blasted a two-run homer to put the Rangers up in the tenth inning, that was it, game over, series over. But the Cardinals refused to let the series be concluded. Two soft base hits, a sac bunt, and laced singled to centerfield tied the game at 9 all, heading into the eleventh.
In the bottom half of the inning David Freese capped off a night that made him a Cardinals legend with the game winning, game 7 forcing, walk-off home run.
In World Series history, there may not have been a game 5 and 6 that saw momentum shift as many times as it would between the Rangers and Cardinals and it continued through the first inning of game 7. Right out the gate the Rangers would score two runs, but they were answered immediately by the Cardinals in the bottom half with a double from playoff hero and series MVP, David Freese, who cumulated a .397 average with 5 home runs and 21 RBI throughout the playoffs.
Allen Craig would break the tie in the third with a homer and that was all Chris Carpenter would need. The last few innings did not justify what the previous two and a half games gave us as the Cardinals would pull away to win the game 6-2 and take the series.
May I add, as Sox fans were watching the Rays and Orioles crush our hearts, the Cardinals were praying for the Braves to lose on the last night of the season, which they did, giving the Cardinals the NL wild card birth despite being down 10.5 games at times during the summer.
This is something that baseball rarely sees and there may not be another World Series like this for some time. So as an ailing Sox fan, I am eternally grateful for the World Series that we were gifted with this October because it is something that I will never forget.

 

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