Cardinals 6 Rangers 2
After the drama and nail-biting excitement of Thursday's game six, Friday's game seven took on a more serious tone. After all, it was do or die, with no tomorrows for either team.
The St. Louis Cardinals took game seven of the World Series over the Texas Rangers, 6-2, to claim their 11th World Series championship. Starter Chris Carpenter, who worked on three-days' rest following a travel day Tuesday and a rainout on Wednesday, got into trouble in the first inning, allowing the Rangers to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the inning, erasing the memories of Thursday's marathon 11-inning contest, putting the Rangers in an enviable position against the Cardinals' ace starter.
Whatever emotional lift Texas got from the opening inning lead was short-lived. In the bottom of the inning, with two outs and the bases empty, Albert Pujols drew a walk and Lance Berkman followed with another free pass, putting David Freese, Thursday's hero at the plate in a key situation, and once again, Freese delivered a knockout, lacing a 3-2 pitch to the left-center which, with both runners on the go, brought them both around to tie the game at 2-2. It was the first time since the Cubs and Tigers both scored in the first inning of a game seven in 1945.
Game 7 and was
4-0 in the playoffs.
From the third through the sixth innings, Carpenter was even more dialed-in, allowing only a leadoff single by Ian Kinsler in the 5th inning and hitting Adrian Beltre with an errant pitch with two outs in the third. It was in the bottom of the third that St. Louis took the lead for good. Allen Criag, who had three home runs in the series, launched a high drive to deep right that cleared the fence and landed in the St. Louis bullpen, the solo shot giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. The St. Louis starter was aided by left fielder Allen Criag, who robbed Nelson Cruz of a sixth-inning home run, leaping to snag the moon-shot, his glove above the wall for the inning's second out.
World Series MVP
C.J. Wilson took over on the mound for Feldman, and promptly plunked the first batter he faced, Rafael Furcal, bringing home Pujols with the 5-2 lead. Wilson struck out Skip Schumaker to end the inning with the bases still full, but the damage had been done and the Rangers could not generate any offense.
When Carpenter left a ball over the middle of the plate to David Murphy, leading off the Texas seventh, it was hammered down the right field line, bounding into the stands for a ground rule double, ending Carpenter's night. Arthur Rhodes came on to get Yorvit Torrealba for the first out and Octavio Dotel came on to get Ian Kinsler on strikes and elvis Andrus on a routine fly ball to center to end the inning.
St. Louis added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh. Molina punched a single through the middle scoring Berkman from second base. In the eighth and ninth, the Cardinal bullpen was at its very best. Lance Lynn got Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Beltre - the heart of the Texas lineup - in order. Jason Motte got Cruz to fly harmlessly to right to start the ninth, induced a ground out to third from Mike Napoli and when Criag clutched Murphy's high drive to left field, the field erupted as happy Cardinal players spilled from the dugout onto the field in celebration while fans began a party that would last well into the evening, the Cardinals world champions for the 11th time, most of any National League team.
The victory marked the third World Series triumph for manager Tony LaRussa, who had won previously with St. Louis in 2006, beating the Tigers, four games to one, earned his first World Series championship with the Oakland A's in 1989, sweeping the San Francisco Giants four straight. LaRussa joins Sparky Anderson, Miller Huggins and John McGraw as managers with three world championships. Only Joe Torre and Walter Alston, with four apiece, Connie Mack with five and Casey Stengel and Joe McCarthy with seven each, have won more.
Cardinal third baseman, David Freese, the homebred hero, was named World Series MVP. Freese was 7-for-23 (.304) in the seven games, all but one of his hits going for extra bases. Freese delivered four doubles, a game-tying triple in the ninth inning of game six and a the game-winning solo home run, two innings later, in the 11th. Freese had seven RBI and hit safely in six of the seven World Series games, and in 16 of 18 through the playoffs. Freese was also honored as the MVP of the NLCS, which St. Louis won, four games to two, over the Milwaukee Brewers. Freese also set a major league record with 21 post-season RBI.
Carpenter took the win in game seven, his second of the series and fourth in the post-season, without suffering a loss. He went six innings in game seven, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks, fanning six. An MVP case could have been made for Lance Berkman, who led all batters with a .423 average on 11 hits in 26 at-bats. Ian Kinsler led the Rangers' regulars in batting with a .360 average.
The Cardinals' meteoric run to becoming world champions of baseball began back in April, but really took shape in the latter days of August, when, on August 23rd, St. Louis found themselves hopelessly trailing the Brewers in the NL Central and 10 1/2 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the wild card race. The Cardinals finally caught and surpassed Atlanta, clinching the NL wild card on the final day of the regular season with an 8-0 win over the Houston Astros. St, Louis won the divisional series from the Phillies in five games, 3-2, and captured their 18th National League pennant when they topped the Brewers, four games to two. St. Louis trails only the Dodgers and Giants, for the most NL pennants, each with 21.
Thus concludes another spectacular season of coverage and daily players of the day from Baseball On Deck.
We'll see you again in about four months, when pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. Until then, baseball remains the uniquely American game and the Cardinals are its champions.