Cards Take Series in Seven

BY:  Richard W. Humphrey

St. Louis beat the Rangers in game seven 6-2 to take the World Series Championship.  Chris Carpenter starting on three days rest instead of the usual four, and making the rare third World Series start, survived a shaky first inning and completed five more to put the Cardinals in position to win.  It was St. Louis’s 11th World Series Championship, more than any Major League team other than the Yankees.  The most successful Ranger season in the franchise’s 51 year history ended one win short of the Championship.

Texas opened the game with a flare.  The first four batters reached base on a single, a walk and two doubles in that order.  Unfortunately, Ian Kinsler got picked off first base to limit the scoreboard damage to two runs.  That proved to be all the scoreboard damage the vaunted Ranger offense would muster for the evening, as Carpenter and the Cardinals’ bullpen finished with eight shutout innings.

St. Louis came back immediately to tie the game in the bottom of the first.  Ranger starter Matt Harrison retired the first two Cardinals, but walked Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman, who both scored on David Freese’s double.  Allen Craig homered in the third to give the Red Birds the lead they never surrendered.  They really put the game on ice with a pair of fifth inning runs, which they managed to score without getting a hit.  Those came at the expense of Scott Feldman.  They added an insurance run off Mike Adams in the seventh.

Basically, the Rangers simply presented the Cardinals with too many free scoring opportunities.  Ranger pitchers walked six and hit two more Friday, a free base runner per inning.  St. Louis cashed in four of those free base runners for runs on the scoreboard.  Texas pitchers walked seven in Thursday night’s loss, and a World Series record 41 in the seven games.

It was a remarkable series.  Many are hailing Thursday’s game six as the greatest World Series game ever.  Every game but one was a tight dramatic game.  These two teams were the best in their respective leagues for the month of September and took that momentum all the way into the Series.  In the end, St. Louis had the guns to find those last four wins.

St. Louis third baseman David Freese was named the Series MVP.  With the Cardinals just a strike away from losing game six and the Series, he tripled home the tying runs to send the game into extra innings.  He homered in the 11th to win it.  He doubled Friday night in the first to plate two runs matching the two the Rangers put on the board in the top half of the inning.  He also set a post season record with 21 RBIs.

The game may well mark the end of two fine careers with their respective teams.  C. J. Wilson relieved Friday after starting games one and five.  He led the Rangers in wins the past two seasons after being converted to a starting pitcher.  In a year of very few quality pitchers on the free agent market, he will be in line for a mammoth contract this winter, which may or may not be forthcoming from Texas.

More notable is the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols.  He is thought by many to be the best player in the game.  The offer from St. Louis that he turned down last spring was said to have made him only the fourth highest paid first baseman in the game.  He has 11 Major League seasons under his belt and would be a first ballot Hall of Famer if he never played another game.  He is already an icon in St. Louis, only notches below Stan Musial in the hearts of Cardinals fans.  It would be a shame to see him in another uniform; but in the 21st century, players spending an entire Hall of Fame career with one team is much less common place than it was in the days of Musial, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle.

For Texas, it’s back to the drawing board for another World Series run.  The Rangers don’t lose much and with more minor league prospects ready to push for Major League jobs, the team looks poised to continue its playoff run for years.  They won eight post season games in 2010, and 10 this season.  Hopefully, they’ll find the combination that will get them 11 post season wins some year soon.


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