World Series MVP David Freese Leads Comeback Cardinals To 11th Title
This team was disregarded by virtually everyone after falling to 10.5 games out of the Wild Card as late as August 26.
The Cardinals were counted out once again Thursday night on two different occasions, each time being a strike away (while two runs down) from elimination.
Well, once the Cardinals won Game 6 on Thursday night, they took on a new role. They became the favorites.
Boasting all the momentum and home-field advantage, Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa had a decision to make for Game 7.
Even on three days rest, La Russa wanted his best pitcher, 36-year-old Chris Carpenter, to start the decisive Game 7. He asked pitching coach Dave Duncan if that could work. Duncan agreed. So did Carpenter.
Possibly as a result of the short rest, the Rangers got to Carpenter early. Texas strung together three first-inning hits, including two doubles.
The Rangers also ran aggressively to begin the decisive Game 7. Ian Kinsler was picked off first base by Yadier Molina, but the Rangers did not ease off on the base paths. After Elvis Andrus walked, the Rangers successfully hit-and-ran, allowing the shortstop to score on Josh Hamilton's double. Then, Michael Young promptly doubled Hamilton in to extend the lead to 2-0.
However, this early two-run lead was short-lived for Ron Washington's club.
As the Cardinals did in the 9th and 10th innings of Game 6, they roared back with two runs in the first inning of Game 7 to even the score.
As baseball history will forever recall, David Freese connected on a crucial two-run triple with two outs and two strikes in the ninth to save his team from elimination in Game 6. Then, even more famously, he won the game with a walk-off shot to deep center field against Mark Lowe.
In the bottom half of the first, Freese doubled in two. He was the hero, though in a less climatic setting, yet again.
The 2-2 tie was broken by Cardinals outfielder Allen Craig, who hit an opposite field home run, well over the head of right fielder Nelson Cruz, who unsuccessfully tried to make a jumping catch on the ball. The solo shot was Craig's second World Series home run off pitcher Matt Harrison and his third overall.
Interestingly enough, with one out in the Top 5th, the roles (in the above scenario) were reversed except that Allen Craig was able to make the catch. Instant replay clearly showed that Cruz’s deep fly ball would have left the field for a home run if Craig had not made the jumping grab.
In the fifth inning, the Cardinals extended their lead to 5-2 by scoring two runs without hitting the ball out of the infield. Thanks to three walks (only the Freese walk was intentional; the rest were not) and two hits-by-pitch, the Cardinals carried a valuable three-run lead into the sixth inning.
With two outs and the score still 3-2, Scott Feldman's payoff pitch to Yadier Molina landed right on the outside corner according to the FOX pitch tracker “FoxTrax.” Home plate umpire Jerry Layne, however, did not see things that way. The ball forced in the Cardinals' fourth run. A fifth run was added after pitcher C.J. Wilson hit St. Louis' Rafael Furcal with a pitch.
The crafty veteran did not surrender a single run following the two runs he allowed back in the first inning. He bounced back well despite clearly not having his best stuff Friday night.
Matt Holliday was left out of the St. Louis line-up due to a sprained wrist, but the Cardinal offense hit well enough in the left fielder’s absence. In fact, Allen Craig, who gave the Cards their first lead – a lead that they would never relinquish – would likely not have started had Holliday played.
Nelson Cruz, on the other hand, played for the Rangers despite nursing a sore groin. Cruz finished the game hitless, going 0 for 4, including that deep fly ball that was robbed over the fence by Allen Craig.
If there was such an award, Allen Craig and Chris Carpenter deserved to be co-MVPs of Game 7. It was fitting that Craig made the final World Series-clinching catch in left field. He truly deserves that honor.
However, if you’re looking for a World Series MVP, it is without a doubt David Freese.
Make no mistake. There were many contributors to the St. Louis championship.
Albert Pujols blasted three home runs in Game 3. Allen Craig drove in five crucial runs during the World Series. This series, Lance Berkman batted .423, scored 9 runs, and saved the Cardinals from elimination in the 10th inning of Game 6. Yadier Molina had a great offensive series, as well as a tremendous series of performances behind the plate, limiting the Rangers' running game.
With that said, Freese played even more remarkably than all of them. As mentioned above, this guy was the Cardinals' hero twice in Game 6. Freese also recorded five extra-base hits in the series and scored his team's game-winning run in Game 1. In short, he was extraordinary all series long and throughout the playoffs, including those MLB-record 21 RBIs.
It's safe to say that little-known third baseman David Freese will be remembered forever for his heroic feats throughout the 2011 World Series.
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