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A lot of teams made a lot of trades with the World Series in mind, but it was a salary dump in 2007 that brought another trophy back to St. Louis.
The St. Louis Cardinals won their 11th World Series title on Friday night, following up Thursday night's classic with a 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers. After being left for dead in late August, Tony La Russa's squad sprung to life, completing one of the more impressive runs to end a season.
Over at Viva El Birdos, DanUpBaby says the Cardinals' run to the World Series title was everything about their manager wrapped upped into one tidy package.
This team was everything 16 years of Tony La Russa Cardinals teams have been in two months—immensely talented and frustrating, overachieving and frustrating, deeply lucky and frustrating, and impossible, frustratingly impossible, to stop watching, no matter how brutal things looked. It was as much Allen Craig as it was Albert Pujols, as much the bullpen phone as it was Marc Rzepczynski and Octavio Dotel showing up at the perfect moment, as much David Freese getting a second chance after that E5 as it was David Freese doing something about it.
Warning: The above link contains 11 gifs of Raul Ibanez's famous lawn dart throw. Bandwidth beware.
This series was a hilarious ball of management, from the bullpen phone incident mentioned above to La Russa running out of players in Game 6 and still winning. The second-guessing and questionable moves added to the charm of it all, and created odd subplots along the way.
The Texas Rangers came incredibly close to bringing home a World Series title, but were undone in a thrilling Game 6. The pain of Thursday's loss continues to resonate in the Texas fanbase, as many wonder what might have been following the Rangers 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 7 on Friday night.
Over at SB Nation Dallas, there was a mix of emotions following Game 7, with happiness about the big picture inter-mixed with sadness over coming so close.
The silver linings, of course, are the state of the franchise. Once we get closer to the start of next season, we can all enjoy the future still looking great, and having had success many teams would actually kill for in recent years. But boy, this hurts, and finding someone to understand the pain will be difficult.
Congratulations to the Cardinals on their 11th world championship. They did not just win the World Series because the Rangers ended it with awful play, or because of good luck, or because of bad umpiring. They won because they did not give up on their season, and they played great baseball against three very good teams for a month.
Texas still looks to be in good shape going forward, though it won't take the way the sting of falling short in the World Series when it seemed the Rangers had the Cardinals on the ropes. But it was a great run again, though this time around the World Series loss has to be harder to swallow.
It should come as no surprise that David Freese was named the 2011 World Series MVP after the St. Louis Cardinals' 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday night. Freese, the hometown boy from St. Louis, had a heck of a World Series, leaving a lasting impression with a game-tying triple in the ninth inning and a walk-off home run in the 11th during Thursday night's classic Game 6.
In Game 7, Freese picked up right where he left off, hitting a two-run double in the bottom of the first to knot the score at two. For the night, Freese was 1-2 with those two RBI.
Not only did Freese play the role of hero for the Cardinals - he broke the record for RBI in a postseason with 21, with seven in the Series. He batted 8-for-23 in the Series overall. And for his efforts, he won a new Chevrolet Corvette, in addition to the nice World Series MVP hardware.
Thanks largely to Chris Carpenter and David Freese -- but with a little help from Mother Nature and Dave Duncan -- the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Texas Rangers in Game 7 to win the 2011 World Series.
Mike Gonzalez came in to strike out Skip Schumaker in the seventh inning, and he stayed in to pitch the eighth inning. He retired the first two hitters in the eighth, but he had to leave because of an injury. Alexi Ogando came in and finished off Allen Craig.
None of that is especially interesting, but it's worth noting that Mike Gonzalez -- he of seven innings with the Rangers in the regular season -- was on the playoff roster. Koji Uehara and Yoshinori Tateyama were not. The Rangers lost the World Series because of a bullpen collapse, for the most part. Just thought I'd mention it.
Motte's coming in, the St. Louis fans are feeling perky and boisterous, and we might be just a few minutes away from the end of the 2011 baseball season.
Funny thing about small samples, though. Small samples and relief pitchers. You can just never know, and things haven't gone the way the Rangers expected. Gonzalez hasn't pitched much. Uehara underachieved and found himself left off the World Series roster. And Adams - while good - hasn't been unhittable the way he was in San Diego, and it was Adams who just allowed the Cardinals to add to their lead in the bottom of the seventh.
Already ahead 5-2, the Cardinals struck for a sixth run when Yadier Molina singled up the middle against Adams with one out. Lance Berkman scored on the play, coming around from second base. Berkman had reached on an infield single, but overall Adams allowed three baserunners in the frame, which wasn't at all what Ron Washington was hoping for.
To make matters worse, the Rangers couldn't offer any kind of response in the top of the eighth. Facing Lance Lynn - pitching on purpose this time, hurrrrrrr - Josh Hamilton, Michael Young and Adrian Beltre all made easy outs. So to sum it all up for you, it's 6-2 Cardinals, and the Rangers have three outs between themselves and a heartbreaking end of the season.
With no outs in the bottom of the sixth, Chris Carpenter hit for himself. He made contact! Big cheers for small victories.
In the top of the seventh, David Murphy led off with an automatic double down the right-field line. And that was it for Carpenter, who was apparently on the silly one-runner-and-gone leash. The Cardinals have a three-run lead, but they probably shouldn't cocky enough to give away outs like that.
But after Carpenter left, Tony La Russa could start up the wheel of bullpen, with Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel combining to shut down the threat. And if the Rangers can't score any runs off the Cardinals bullpen, it probably wouldn't matter if Carpenter took the rest of the at-bats in the game.
The Cardinals, who were 10½ out of a playoff spot in late August, who were down to their last strike of the season on two separate occasions, are just six outs away from one of the more improbable World Series championships in baseball history.
Thanks to some quality at bats and some non-quality pitching, the Cardinals added two big runs of insurance in the bottom of the fifth to pull ahead of the Rangers 5-2. At that point, what Tony La Russa and Cardinals fans everywhere were looking for from Chris Carpenter was a shutdown inning. You know, a shutdown inning. An inning where the pitcher makes quick work of the opponent to bring his own bats right back up.
Well, based on the results, Carpenter turned in that shutdown inning in the top of the sixth. He wasn't dominant in any way and he was actually rather lucky, but the Rangers went down 1-2-3.
Adrian Beltre led off with a ground out. That was nothing. Nelson Cruz stepped in and lifted a deep fly ball to left field. A very deep fly ball.
It just wasn't deep enough, barely. The next batter was Mike Napoli, and Napoli hit the ball hard the other way. But he hit it on a line, and that line was pointed directly at Lance Berkman. So while two of three Rangers batters socked the crap out of the ball, they both made outs.
And speaking of outs, the Rangers have just nine of those left. They trail 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth, and Carpenter has wound up looking far better than one would've expected from his early performance.
Grammatically speaking, it should be Games 7 rather than Game 7s, right? Like Attorneys General?
It's not like I'm obsessing over this or anything. Just wondering. Because, you know.
Anyway, Matt Harrison's out of the game after four innings in which he gave up five hits, two walks, and three runs. Most damningly, Harrison struck out just one Cardinal ... and that was Chris Carpenter, for which Harrison gets half-credit.
Scott Feldman, who threw 16 pitches in Game 6 and gave up a big hit, replaced Harrison to start the bottom of the fifth and took up where he left off Thursday night.
After falling behind Lance Berkman 2-and-0, he got Berkman on a grounder to first base, with the runners moving up. And then Ron Washington did something strange; the second strange thing he'd done in this inning: Washington ordered an intentional walk to All-World (Series) David Freese, loading the bases.
Statistically speaking, you give up more runs when you intentionally walk batters than when you don't.
Feldman fell behind 3-and-0 to Yadier Molina. He threw a BP fastball for strike one, and a cutter that just clipped outside corner for strike two. But then he missed outside, though it was awfully close ...
and the Cardinals had a run without hitting a ball out of the infield in the inning.
That brought Washington out of the dugout, and C.J. Wilson in from the bullpen.
Wilson had already tied the record for most walks in a postseason, and instead of breaking the record forthwith, his first pitch was a fastball that plunked Rafael Furcal in the hip to force in yet another run. Wilson did strike out Skip Schumaker to finally end the inning.
So now it's Cardinals 5, Rangers 2 ... and while we don't really believe in momentum, the Rangers have done a lot of things tonight that make you wonder if they've still got their wits about them. Perhaps most of all, their manager.
Now, if Andrus doesn't bunt? Maybe he hits into a double play. Maybe he pops up, and the next two hitters make outs as well. It's not a guarantee of success. But in the fifth inning of a game on the road, is playing for the tie really the best strategy? Especially considering that the Cardinals have been scoring tworveteen runs in every game of the World Series, or at least the games not started by Derek Holland.
It's still Cardinals 3, Rangers 2, and it's early, but giving away an out in exchange for a slightly better chance at a single run seems like a bad move right now.
In Thursday night's Game 6, Ron Washington caught some flak when he allowed Colby Lewis to bat for himself with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning of a one-run game. Lewis struck out and looked bad.
Well, in the bottom of the fourth on Friday, Tony La Russa wound up in a similar situation. I'll explain. With one out, Yadier Molina grounded a single back up the middle. Rafael Furcal followed with a line drive single to right to put two runners aboard with one down.
Skip Schumaker then shattered his bat on a pitch and grounded out to first, but both runners moved up. That brought Carpenter to the plate with a pair of runners in scoring position.
What do you do here? On the one hand, Carpenter had already thrown 63 pitches, he's working on short rest, and the bullpen's fully available. On the other, Carpenter looked much better in the third and fourth innings than he did in the first two, and La Russa doesn't exactly have any huge weapons on his bench with Allen Craig starting due to Matt Holliday's injury.
La Russa opted to let Carpenter bat. Carpenter lifted a lazy fly out to end the inning. The score's still 3-2 St. Louis going into the fifth, and now Carpenter will need to justify La Russa's decision.
Since turning to his curveball in the third inning, Chris Carpenter has completely turned around his Game 7 outing. After throwing just one curve in his first 43 pitches, he threw six in his next 12. That gives him four pitches instead of three, and a sort of change-up that he simply didn't have in the first couple of inning, when he struggled.
Meanwhile, some observers were surprised when Harrison batted for himself, as C.J. Wilson has been getting loose in the Rangers' bullpen. Harrison would presumably have been removed if someone had reached base ahead of him, but nobody did so Ron Washington's sticking with him. You have to think the leash is exceptionally short now, though.
Three pitches into Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, the Cardinals and Rangers were tied 2-2. At least, that's what it felt like. I wasn't really watching. ESPN2 has the Pan-American Games on, and I have picture-in-picture working, so forgive me if these updates seem scattered.
After that early hiccup from both starters, though, both pitchers settled down. Like, really settled down. Carpenter allowed a walk in the second inning, and he hit Adrian Beltre with a pitch in the third, but that's all. Matt Harrison ...
... just allowed a home run as I was typing his name. Sorry about that, Rangers fans. He was really looking good, though!
Of course. Lose one of your best hitters. His replacement gives you the lead. Win a World Series after being ten games back in August. The Aristocrats!
Now it's 3-2 Cardinals, but I have the feeling the final score will be 8-7 someone, so this probably isn't over.
Just like a cool, smooth Marlboro cigarette. Yeahh
Chris Carpenter has not looked particularly sharp through two innings. He's thrown just 17 strikes out of 37 pitches, and he's put six men on base. There's no telling how much worse things might be had Ian Kinsler not gotten himself picked off about two minutes into the game.
But Tony La Russa still has confidence in Carpenter. Or at least more confidence than he has in his long relievers. How do I know this? Because La Russa let Carpenter bat for himself in the bottom of the second.
The half-inning could've been something. Leading off, Rafael Furcal grounded a sharp single back up the middle. But then Skip Schumaker grounded into a first-pitch double play to leave Carpenter's spot with two outs and none on. Carpenter batted, and Carpenter whiffed.
I guess now that I've written this, it wouldn't have made much difference to pinch-hit there. With Adron Chambers replacing Matt Holliday on the roster, La Russa doesn't have a wealth of quality options on his bench, and, again, there were two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the second inning. I guess what I'm really trying to get at here in a wordy and roundabout fashion is that it's sensible to be a little worried about Chris Carpenter, and if you're a Cardinals fan, you should probably hope that La Russa will intervene should Carpenter get into another mess. The whole bullpen is available and there's no game tomorrow or the day after that.
2-2, top three.
Unlike most broadcasters, Bobby Valentine's usually willing to call them as he sees them, and here's his take on Chris Carpenter tonight: "This is very mediocre stuff that Carpenter's featuring."
In two innings, Carpenter has given up four hits and two walks, and he's lucky to have given up only two runs. He didn't throw a curveball until his 34th pitch; during the regular season, he typically threw between 15 and 25 curveballs per game.
If the Cardinals lose this game by a run or two, Tony La Russa will be forever second-guessed for letting Carpenter start Game 7 on short rest ... particularly considering how poorly Carpenter pitched on short rest in Game 2 of the Division Series, when he lasted only three innings against the Phillies.
The decision hasn't blown up in La Russa's lap quite yet, though. Carpenter escaped the top of the second inning by retiring Elvis Andrus on a grounder to the mound, and so the score remains Cardinals 2, Rangers 2.
This is your annual (weekly, daily, whatever) reminder that it's pretty impressive anyone can go out on a pitching mound for a World Series Game 7 without wetting their drawers on national TV. I pitched exactly once when I was in high school, this girl I liked was watching me, and I hit the only two batters I faced. This is like that, but on a larger scale. So kudos to the professionals who do this for our enjoyment.
That written, Matt Harrison opened Game 7 of the World Series with a case of the jibblies. After two quick outs, he walked Albert Pujols on four pitches. Then he walked Lance Berkman on five pitches. He took David Freese to a 3-2 count before leaving a changeup over the plate. Freese, making a bid to be the MVP*, rocketed the pitch to into the left-center gap.
Both runners were running on the full count, and they scored easily. The Rangers surely must be stunned at how their lead evaporated so quickly, but if they can get another lead, they'll totally be able to hold it this time. Yep. No problem.
Freese was still in scoring position for Yadier Molina, who hit the ball well to center, but Josh Hamilton caught the ball with a leap as he approached the wall.
*Of everything. Not just this World Series.
A lot of people were wondering how the Rangers would look when Friday's World Series Game 7 began. Reports said the clubhouse was loose, and Ron Washington was anything but despondent, but you can't know how players will actually respond until they take the field, and Thursday night the Rangers suffered one of the most emotionally devastating losses in baseball history.
Well, they got off to a positive start. Ian Kinsler led off and lined the second pitch of the game into left field for a base hit. But then Kinsler decided to take a little nappy-poo and Yadier Molina almost immediately picked him off. So much for Kinsler being one of the best baserunners in baseball!
You'd think that would be crippling for the Rangers. It was not. Elvis Andrus walked. Josh Hamilton pulled a ground ball double into right to score Andrus all the way from first. The next batter was Michael Young, and he dropped an RBI double in right field, by the line.
That fast, it was 2-0 Rangers, and it was 2-0 Rangers despite Kinsler's mistake. Chris Carpenter got out of the inning without sustaining any more damage, but he put his team in the hole, and once again you have to wonder about the whole short-rest thing. Pitchers tend to be much worse on short rest. Carpenter did not look particularly good.
From a pregame meeting with the media:
Kinsler: /steps in to lead off 1st
Carpenter: /looks in for sign
Carpenter: /keeps looking
Carpenter: /keeps looking
Carpenter: /keeps looking
Carpenter: /steps off mound
Carpenter: I can't believe we did it!
Theriot: I know!
Craig, Schumaker: /high five
Freese: /steps in against Harrison
Freese: /points to center field with bat
Freese: /turns around
Freese: /waves arms to make make-more-noise motion to crowd
Harrison: /throws pitches
Freese: /smiles at crowd, teammates
We already know that Chris Carpenter is starting on short rest for the Cardinals tonight. We've known that for hours, and some might argue that we've known that for days. It was pretty easy to see this coming the instant Wednesday's Game 6 got rained out.
And Carpenter might pitch very well. He might pitch very well for a long time. Though he struggled in his first short rest appearance back in the NLDS, he claims to have learned a lot from that experience. Who's to say now?
But in the event that Carpenter labors a little, or in the event that Tony La Russa needs someone out of his bullpen to soak up a few innings, who's it going to be? Probably not the guy you expected.
Westbrook will be 1st long man tonight LaRussa says
What's the deal? For one thing, La Russa likes the way Westbrook has thrown lately, and doesn't like the way Lohse and Jackson have thrown. For another, Westbrook is a ground ball pitcher. Over his career, 59 percent of all balls in play he's allowed have stayed on the ground. La Russa likes to think of Westbrook's ground ball tendencies as a way to combat the Rangers' power.
This may or may not be worth anything, but according to Baseball-Reference, the Rangers had baseball's second-best OPS against fly ball pitchers. They had baseball's top OPS against neutral pitchers. They had baseball's seventh-best OPS against ground ball pitchers. It's something. It could be nothing, but it's something. I think that sentence makes sense but you might have to crawl inside my brain to understand.
Momentum is only as good as the strength of a barky elbow, and Chris Carpenter's right arm is what St. Louis is counting on for Game 7. The Cardinals decided to mix things up all crazy-like to support him:
The three biggest news items here:
1. For the second time in the series, Tony La Russa decides to put the left-handed hitting infielder in center field instead of the left-handed hitting center fielder. It's even more amazing when you consider that La Russa let Schumaker face left-handed pitching just 43 times during the entire regular season. Now he's starting in center for the 54th time in his seven-year career because suddenly La Russa is okay with him hitting against lefties. Huh.
Don't sell Schumaker short, though. He does have the highest strikeout rate (18 K/9) of any player in the World Series, so he could contribute mightily.
2. Rafael Furcal, who has been horribly slumping, moves down to Schumakerville at the bottom of the lineup. This is the first game out of the lead-off spot in the entire postseason, and it's all to get Ryan Theriot those extra at-bats. He does have a .222 OBP this series, so he's hot.
3. Matt Holliday is out, and he isn't even on the roster to pinch hit after he sprained something on the end of his arm. Wrist, finger ... something.
Matt Harrison didn't do well in Game 4, but he was also exceptionally unlucky. He'll face a different lineup this time around in Game 7.
Oh, it's just Game 7 of the World Series. That's all. With right-hander Chris Carpenter presumably starting for the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington has posted this lineup:
Hey, good news for the Rangers! This is actually the lineup Ron Washington would like to deploy against a right-handed starting pitcher. After Game 6, there were real questions about the availability of both Mike Napoli and Nelson Cruz for Game 7, given their injuries. But apparently they're feeling good enough, at the very least, to convince Washington they can play.
Otherwise, the only notable change is in left field; as usual, lefty-hitting David Murphy gets the nod. And still Endy Chavez waits ...
Matt Holliday fought through a finger injury that caused him to miss a little action in the NLDS. He recovered well enough to start 14 consecutive games, but in Thursday night's Game 6, Holliday injured himself trying to slide back into third base on a snap throw pick-off attempt. Initially, Holliday felt like he could be available for Friday's Game 7, but things have changed:
This update says Holliday has a sprained wrist, while updates last night had Holliday's pinky in a splint. Whatever's wrong, though, what matters is that Holliday has basically been placed on the one-day disabled list. His season ends with an embarrassing pick-off that thankfully did not contribute to the end of the Cardinals' season.
Overall, Holliday batted .294 in the playoffs with an .831 OPS. Not bad for a guy playing hurt. He struggled badly in the World Series, though, batting 3-for-19, and for good measure he threw in that pick-off and a horrible error in the outfield Thursday night. So it's safe to say that, as good as Holliday has been in the past, Cardinals fans probably aren't too worried over his absence Friday. Holliday will simply be replaced by Allen Craig, and Allen Craig has been outstanding.
Where this could hurt is in the later innings, when Tony La Russa might be looking for a pinch-hitter. Instead of having Holliday or Craig available, he'll have Adron Chambers, who has all of 14 plate appearances of major league experience. But considering all the weird shit that went down Thursday, you know what? Whatever. Who knows? Who the hell even knows?
Texas paid in players and prospects in order to improve their bullpen, but you wouldn't know it if you watched the World Series.
Game 6 of the 2011 World Series took a lot out of the players, managers and even the fans watching at home as the St. Louis Cardinals staved off elimination and came back to force Game 7 with a 10-9 win over the Texas Rangers in 11 innings. With one game left, though, several players are walking wounded with injuries sustained in Thursday night's game.
On the Rangers side, Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli were both injured on Thursday night. Napoli rolled his ankle pretty severely sliding into second base, but was able to finish the game. Nelson Cruz strained his groin late in the Rangers' 11-inning loss to the Cardinals. The latest comes from Brent Gambill.
#Rangers announce Nelson Cruz strained right groin is day to day. Mike Napoli had x-rays on right ankle. They were negative #WorldSeries
For the Cardinals, Matt Holliday injured his right pinky in the win. It's unclear whether the injury will affect his status for Game 7.
Holliday says he thinks he can play in Game 7. Left park with right pinky in a splint and taped, though.
Cruz may be the most questionable for Friday's game with his strained right groin, though Holliday's injury seems problematic, as well. For all three, it may be a situation where they see how they feel on Friday morning and are evaluated again shortly before the game gets underway. But with one game to go and the World Series on the line, one would have to expect all three will fight to be on the field on Friday night.
Ever since Chris Carpenter started Game 5 for the Cardinals on Monday — a game they lost because Derek Holland threw the game of his life for the Rangers — there had been speculation that he might be called on to start Game 7 if there were a rain delay, which would allow him to throw on three days’ rest.
In the middle of the night, Cardinals beat writer Joe Strauss confirmed it:
Pitchers who go on three days’ rest in the postseason often have trouble; also, Carpenter has thrown 267 innings this season and there have been whispers that he has some elbow trouble, though he claims to be OK.
We’ll find out if this workload and possible injury issue is too much for him tonight; you can bet that Tony La Russa won’t stick long with Carpenter if he runs into trouble.
Chris Carpenter could pitch for the Cardinals in a Friday Game 7. Chris Carpenter's elbow has been the subject of much conversation. What's the deal?