With all odds set against them, the St.Louis Cardinals took strong hold of arguably the most unlikely title run in the history of baseball. Likely deemed the ‘Comeback Cards,’ for the rest of eternity, their 2011 season would have the 1969 ‘Miracle Mets,’ scratching their heads.
Lose ace starting pitcher Adam Wainwright for the rest of the season during spring training? Check.
10.5 games out of the Wild Card in August? Check.
Down to your last strike in Game 6 of the World Series, not once but twice? Check.
In no more ways conceivable have there been more opportunities for Cardinal fans to throw in the towel, but Friday night they got to watch their beloved red birds hold up their 11th World Series trophy after a 6-2 win over the Rangers.
“It’s unbelievable, amazing, incredible….it’s hard to explain how it happened,” said manager Tony La Russa following the game after winning his third World Series and second in a Cardinal uniform.
Cardinals first baseman Lance Berkman, who was in part responsible for Thursday night’s great comeback, stated, “It’s hard to put into words, it’s exhilarating…this team is the greatest I’ve ever played on.”
Considered by many an unlikely hero, third baseman David Freese would take the World Series MVP crown. He batted .348 in the series and broke the all-time MLB record for most RBIs in a post season with 21. Not only did he come through for the Cardinals twice while on the brink of elimination Thursday night, but he also hit a two run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game 2-2, ensuring the Cardinals wouldn’t have to play behind for long.
Following Freese’s trophy presentation, Cardinals fans would watch their two stars take the mic in the center of the field.
Albert Pujols declared that it was “the last month of the season, that’s where it started,” in regards to their historical comeback. “Two months ago we were supposed to be watching the World Series, now we’re World Champions,” Pujols said.
Chris Carpenter, who struggled with his command while pitching on three days rest, still ended up with solid numbers, going six innings while only giving up two runs. He went on to say, “man, what a game, last night was unbelievable, was a great game to be a part of (in regards to the Game 6 comeback)."
Game 7 seemed to have been the first contest in a while that didn’t culminate into ending drama as Texas would not score following the first inning. Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig would hit a go-ahead home run in the third inning to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead. The 5th inning would then display a struggling Rangers pitching staff that would walk St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina with the bases loaded before nailing shortstop Rafal Furcal with a hit-by-pitch, scoring two more runs for the Cards.
The entire night gave the feeling that St.Louis had stolen all the momentum following the insane Game 6.
Following his second World Series loss in a row, Rangers manager Ron Washington stated, “If there is one thing I could have changed last night it would have been that pitch.” When asked in regards to which pitch he was speaking of, he stated that it would have been any of the three that gave up the two comeback hits and the final deciding Freese home run.
Washington went on to say that he told his team in the locker room that "they are champions, which I believe.”
How fitting it must have been for Cardinals fans — the entire stadium record announced crowd of 47,399 — to have watched as closer Jason Motte retired David Murphy with a fly out to left to capture the World Series crown. Known to arguably have the best fans in baseball, St.Louis will be celebrating this amazing run for quite some time.
"When you play in a city like this, where we have the greatest fans in the world, they come out every day and they allowed us to do what we did this year," Cardinals GM John Mozeliak stated.
"We're World Series champions, and nobody can take that away from us," Berkman announced post-game. "What makes that even sweeter was the manner in which we won it. Hollywood would have a hard time scripting something [like this]. You hear that sometimes, but it's true with this team. The reality of it is way better than anything you could make up about the team."
Stats Of The Night: The Cardinals now have 11 World Series titles to their resume, more than any other National League team. They are the fifth Wild Card team, and the first since 2004, to win the title
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS