Saturday, October 29, 2011

Freese Out! Cardinals Stun Rangers for 11th World Series Title!

Visit "All World All Sports"

-Digger's Daily-

The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals capped a season to remember with a stunning seven game World Series victory over the Texas Rangers. On August 25th, the Cardinals were 10.5 games behind Atlanta in the NL Wild Card race. In World Series Game 6, twice they were one strike from losing the series. St. Louis overcame long odds - now they're World Series champions!

Texas seemed to have the championship well within their grasp. Leading the Series 3 games to 2. Leading Game 6 7-4 through 7 innings - 7-5 after 8 - 7-5 with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the 9th until hometown hero David Freese delivered a season saving game tying 2 out 2 strike 2 run triple. Texas led again 9-7 in the 10th inning after a 2 run homer by 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Once again, St. Louis facing elimination with 2 outs and 2 strikes. Then it was Lance Berkman's turn for heroics as his single tied the game at 9. Up stepped David Freese to lead off for the Cardinals in the bottom half of the 11th. He lined a 3-2 meatball over the centerfield wall for a walk off Series tying home run. Cardinal fans went crazy - and analysts slammed Rangers manager Ron Washington for numerous managerial mistakes.

In decisive Game 7, Texas came out hot scoring 2 to begin the game. They would score no more. Cardinals David Freese was the man of the hour once again. His 2 run double knotted the contest. Texas pitchers were terrible the rest of the way. Walks, hit batters and falling behind in counts all game long. When all was said and done - St. Louis won the game 6-2. Local boy David Freese was named World Series MVP in addition to National League Championship Series MVP.

Texas joins the 1986 Boston Red Sox as two teams within 1 strike of a World Series title in Game 6 who then gave it all away. So many memorable moments coming out of the 2011 World Series. Here's a few of my favorites....

Game 1 - Cards David Freese scored game winner on a pinch hit single by Alan Craig. Rangers CJ Wilson became the first pitcher to lose an All Star Game, AL Division Series game, AL Championship Series game and World Series game all in the same season.

Game 2 - Rangers score 2 9th inning runs - win 2-1 - ties Series at 1 each.

Game 3 - The Albert Pujols show. 5 for 6 - 3 monster home runs to tie the record shared by Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Cardinals demolish Rangers 16-7.

Game 4 - Derek Holland shut down the Cardinals through 8.1 innings. Rangers win 4-0. Holland would not start again. Many, including myself, still wonder why Washington didn't save Holland for Game 7 after his great Game 4 performance. Certainly to be debated for years to come.

Game 5 - Rubber game. Rangers to be World Series MVP Mike Napoli delivers game winner in bottom of 8th. Rangers win 4-2. One game from franchise first championship (51 years). Alan Craig twice thrown out trying to steal with Albert Pujols batting. LaRussa none too happy. Confusion as LaRussa didn't have closer Motte ready to come in - make shift relievers surrender game. LaRussa criticized and admits communication error between dugout and bullpen. Season on the brink.

Game 6 - Where to begin? Called one of the best games ever despite sloppy defense, poor managerial decisions, bad base running. In a move - or lack thereof - which I believe will haunt manager Washington for years to come - was his indecision in the top 5th. Rangers were leading 4-3, 2 outs, bases loaded. This is where Texas could have blown the Series open. Instead of sending a pinch hitter to bat for starting pitcher Lewis, after much confusion, Washington lets Lewis hit - and strike out. Rally over. Bases loaded stranded. This was a major snafu. Lewis was cooked one inning later.
Holliday getting picked off 3rd by Napoli with bases loaded, score tied at 4, almost sunk the Cards. It was a huge moment of the game. Cards inning ended 1 out later. Holliday might have scored on soon to come wild pitch had he not been picked off. Crucial moment Cards were able to overcome.
One of the Cardinals biggest hits - and most over looked of the entire Series - was Alan Craig's 8th inning solo home run to shave Texas lead to 2 from 7-4. At the time, everyone was ready to hand the trophy to Texas.
Then came the 9th inning. Texas leading 7-5, one out, Albert Pujols steps up to the plate in what could have been (should have been) potentially his final at bat as a St. Louis Cardinal. Pujols started the rally with a line drive double to left center. Berkman followed with a walk vs Rangers flame throwing closer Feliz. Up stepped Freese with 2 outs. Rangers OF playing very deep. It didn't matter. Freese absolutely hammered a fast ball off the right field wall. Texas players who were waiting to celebrate were suddenly stunned. Freese tied the game, 7-7. It looked as though the Cardinals were poised to win right there but Feliz got the final out. Bush Stadium fans going berserk - until - Hamilton's two-run blast put Texas ahead by two 9-7. Rangers dugout jubilant and relieved.
Washington's next mistake was not letting his closer come back out for a second inning of work. Here it is, season on the line, championship glory within reach - and Washington pulls his closer for old man Oliver. Two hitters later, the tying runs were on base after two feeble singles. Rangers blew another 2 run lead - again with 2 outs and 2 strikes.
David Freese homers to win it in the 11th redeeming himself from an earlier error of a dropped pop up to third. Just like that Freese became Series MVP front-runner knocking Napoli off to the side.

Game 7 - Ian Kinsler picked off first. Kinsler's base running was atrocious. He was nearly picked off again by Molina a few innings later. Rangers seemed done for the season after Feldman's bases loaded borderline call walk to Molina made the score 4-2. CJ Wilson then relieved and hit struggling Furcal with his first pitch, 5-2.
Rangers set a record for most walks. They handed out 41 free bases in 62 innings. They hit batters, played poor defense, pitched from behind. One of the worst performances (except for Holland) ever recorded. Sloppy and very "un"-clucth.

Clutch - MVP Freese 21 post-season RBI is a Major League record!
Rangers back to back World Series losers.
Albert Pujols final game as a Cardinal after 11 stellar seasons?
Is LaRussa done in St. Louis?
Arthur Rhodes earns a World Series ring after 20 big league season's (1st World Series).
Tony LaRussa wins 3rd World Series in 33 year managing career. 2nd Cardinals Series title. Funny, only 4 100+ win teams in 33 years.

Much will be written of the 2011 World Series. Most attention will surround Texas twice being within 1 strike of winning. Rangers players all know the Series was lost in Game 6. Nolan Ryan's facial expressions this Series were priceless. Jubilant, angry, stunned disbelief.

Congratulations St. Louis Cardinals!

No comments:

Post a Comment