Champs: Cardinals’ Fairytale Ends with World Series Rings


October 31, 2011
Ceci Ferrara
Sports Writer
Sports Insider

For the second time in five years, the St. Louis Cardinals are World Series champions. Their improbable playoff run began in August, when they were 10 ½ games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL Wild Card spot and not even a blip on the playoff radar. Who could have predicted the Braves would have one of the most monumental collapses during the last 30 games, going 10-20 and lose their playoff spot in the very last game of the season?

For the Braves, it was a huge failure, but for the Cardinals, it was a golden opportunity. Of course, they had to get past the Philadelphia Phillies and their pitching staff first – something no one expected them to do. But Chris Carpenter bested them all in the game 5 of the NLDS, shutting out the Phillies 1-0. They then breezed past the Brewers 4-2 to win the NLCS and advance to the Fall Classic for the first time since 2006.

It was there that they faced their toughest opponent, the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were back-to-back American League champions in their second consecutive World Series appearance. Except for games 1 and 3, the series seemed to be swinging in favor of the Rangers. St. Louis’ biggest hitter, Albert Pujols was hitless through game 6 – save for his monstrous showing in game 3. With three homeruns and 14 total bases, the rest of the roster wasn’t putting the bat on the ball as well as the Rangers were.

Then, in the bottom of the 9th in game 6, down to their last strike, the Cardinals channeled that magic once again. David Freese hit a two-run triple to tie the game, and then won it with a lead-off homerun in the 11th. It seemed almost as though the Cardinals had to win. It was just meant to be.

And in game 7, in their own stadium, in front of their own fans, they did. Thanks in equal parts to a solid performance by Carpenter and big hits by Freese and Allen Craig, the Cardinals triumphed last Friday, winning 6-2 and sending the Texas Rangers home empty handed for the second year in a row. They became the fifth Wild Card team in history to win it all and the first since the Red Sox, who did it in 2004. It was the 11th title for the franchise, which trails only the New York Yankees in World Series wins (27).

Right fielder Lance Berkman, who was invaluable to the team in their win, remarked to reporters how unbelievable it was. “We’re World Series champions, and nobody can take that away from us. What makes that even sweeter was the manner in which we won it,” he said. “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.”


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