Cardinals Win!!

champs

After an improbable ending to the regular season that saw the St. Louis Cardinals qualify for the playoffs on the last day, after an improbable postseason that saw the Wild Card team beat the heavily favored Phillies and then follow with beating the heavily favored Brewers to get to the World Series, after an unbelievably improbable comeback – or better said “comebacks” to win Game 6 in spectacular fashion, possibly the most improbable thing about Game 7 was the lack of any real drama.

carpChris Carpenter gave up two runs in the first inning and allowed 6 of the first 10 batters he faced to reach base, but settled down and pitched 6 strong innings before being lifted in the 7th. From there, the bullpen that has been so dependable since the end of August showed their mettle again and shut the Rangers down for the last three innings. Of the decision to let Chris Carpenter pitch on three days rest, Tony LaRussa said he called Dave Duncan this morning to discuss who should pitch and Duncan said, “are you kidding? It’s Carpenter” and then hung up the phone. Despite the rocky start, that turned out to be a great decision.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first inning, the Cardinals came back in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Harrison pitched around Albert Pujols and then walked Lance Berkman giving Game 6 hero David Freese a chance to add to his 2011 World Series legacy. He didn’t miss. His double to left center scored Pujols and Berkman and the game was tied at 2.

Craig steals oneAllen Craig, starting in place of Matt Holliday who injured his wrist on the pickoff play in Game 6, added another line to his impressive post-season run with an opposite field solo homerun in the third. It was his third homerun of the series (his second off of Harrison) and his second game winning hit. He also made two big plays in the outfield, stealing a homerun from Cruz in the 6th and squeezing the glove on the final out of the season on a fly ball by David Murphy.

The Cardinals added to their lead in the 5th with a lot of help from Rangers pitchers. After Theriot grounded out for the first out, Allen Craig drew a walk against Rangers reliever Scott Feldman. On an 0-2 count to Albert Pujols Feldman threw a little too far inside and grazed Pujols’ jersey to put him on first. Berkman followed with a ground out to first that advanced the runners. Ron Washington chose to give the intentional pass to David Freese and instead pitch to Yadier Molina. That strategy failed, however, when Feldman walked Molina to push Allen Craig across making the score 4-2. That was it for Feldman, as Washington brought in his ace CJ Wilson. But Wilson let one get away from him and plunked Rafael Furcal on the hip to bring in another run. Finally Wilson got Skip Schumaker to strike out to end the inning – an inning in which the Cardinals brought 8 batters to the plate, scored two runs and left the bases full, all without getting a single hit.

Yadier Molina finished a strong World Series at the plate with an RBI single in the 7th to account for the 6th Cardinal run and Lance Lynn, who had given up back to back homeruns in Game 6 worked a 1-2-3 8th setting up Motte to close out the game. Motte got Cruz to pop up, Napoli grounded out to third and then David Murphy hit a tailing fly to the track in left field that Allen Craig brought in to start the Cardinals’ celebration as World Series Champions.

Game Ball – has to go to Chris Carpenter. He took the ball on three days rest for only the second time in his career and showed why he is the Cardinals ace, and why the team has tremendous confidence in him. After getting touched for two runs in the first, he settled in and followed that with 5 shutout innings ending with a line of 6 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks and 5 K’s.

Play of the game – is Allen Craig’s jumping catch at the wall to rob Nelson Cruz of a potential homerun in the 6th. I could make a case for David Freese for the double in the first to tie the game. And I could make a case for Craig for his game-winning homerun. Freese’s catch at the rail in foul territory in the 5th was pretty nice too. But the catch by Craig is highlight reel kind of stuff, so it gets the nod.

Blown call of the night – will go to Ian Kinsler for getting picked off again at first base. This game was well played and I’m hard pressed to find any bad managerial moves (some might argue the intentional walk to Freese to load the bases, but the way Freese has been hitting, I don’t think it’s a terrible call there), nor were there any bad calls by umpires (though both catchers took issue with a few called balls and strikes). So Kinsler has to get it tonight because he had already been picked off once in this series. And he would have been picked off again by Molina if Albert Pujols hadn’t dropped the ball. Learn from your past mistakes, take a shorter lead.

Overlooked – the Rangers, who stole 8 bases against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers only managed one stolen base against the Cardinals. It was a costly one as it was the difference maker in Game 2. But the Cardinals kept the aggressive Rangers from taking advantage again. Albert Pujols did not have a good series. He was otherworldly in Game 3, but went 1-19 with six walks and three strikeouts (including his final at-bat) in the remaining games.

Tomorrow: Friends, there is no tomorrow. But let’s look toward next year, shall we? Both of these teams are stacked and, with a few important roster moves (resigning Albert Pujols being the most important), both of these teams will have a good shot to return should they stay healthy down the stretch.

October 28, 2011  Tags: , ,   Posted in: Sports, St. Louis Cardinals

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