Cardinals win World Series

Members of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Texas Rangers in MLB’s World Series...

Members of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrate their win over the Texas Rangers in MLB’s World Series baseball championship in St. Louis, Missouri, October 28, 2011. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes

Ken Fidlin, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:42 AM ET

ST. LOUIS - Whenever Chris Carpenter decides to hang up his baseball cleats, he might think about getting a gig as a motivational speaker.

In the section of his resume reserved for past accomplishments he can already claim: “talked my baseball team into winning the World Series.”

He could also add that he did a passable job of pitching, as well.

The St. Louis Cardinals capped one of history’s most preposterous runs to a World Series championship Friday night with a seventh game 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Compared to Thursday night’s dramatic 10-9 thrill ride in Game 6, when the Cardinals survived not one, but two, near-death experiences to extend the series, this clincher was a stress-free stroll in the park.

Working on three days’ rest, Carpenter pitched six strong innings, allowing just two first-inning runs and six hits overall in winning for the second time in this series. By that point St. Louis had a 5-2 advantage that would grow by a run in the seventh inning, putting the Cardinals’ 11th World Series title on ice.

St. Louis native, David Freese, who doubled in two runs Friday, tripled in two tying runs in the ninth inning Thursday, then won Game 6 with a homer in the 11th, was named World Series MVP.

“I’ve been surrounded by so many great characters on this team,” said Freese. “I’ve learned so much from all these veterans who understand and play the game the right way.”

Despite their brave front, it was clear throughout this deciding game that the Rangers, after coming so close on Thursday night, twice leading by two runs with one strike to go, just did not have anything left in the tank for Game 7 after that heartbreaking defeat.

St. Louis, on the other hand, seemed energized by the emotional Thursday win that even strengthened their belief in themselves as a team of destiny.

“Even when we were down,” said La Russa of his team’s supercharged dugout Thursday, “(Carpenter) made sure everybody heard him when he said “this historic run is not going to end today.”

And if it didn’t end on Thursday, the Cards certainly weren’t going to let it end on Friday without taking home the hardware.

The Cardinals have been playing what has amounted to elimination games for the last two months. On August 25, they stood 10 games behind NL Central-leading Milwaukee and 10.5 games behind wild-card-leading Atlanta. St. Louis had been playing lousy baseball for the two previous weeks, and on that day, Carpenter called a team meeting to deliver a message that this wasn’t acceptable.

“It wasn’t about making a run to the playoffs,” said Carpenter. “It was about having pride and about how we were playing. We have expectations in this clubhouse and we weren’t meeting them. From that day on, we started playing good baseball.”

They caught and passed the Braves for the wild card spot on the final day of the season after an amazing run down the stretch. Then they took the heavily-favoured Phillies to five games and Carpenter bested Roy Halladay in the fifth and deciding game. They took out the Brewers in six games of the NLCS and, heading into Friday’s final game of the year, had a chance to make this impossible dream come true.

“After that meeting,” said La Russa, “the team decided it was just going to play every game like it’s the seventh game of the World Series. And they did it every day for six weeks, and then they started enjoying doing that.”

And then, Friday evening, they looked up and it WAS the seventh game of the World Series.

The Rangers jumped away to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on consecutive RBI-doubles by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young but St. Louis matched those runs in the bottom of the first on Freese’s two-run double.

Allen Craig’s solo home run in the third gave St. Louis the lead they never relinquished. They added two more in the fifth, without even a base hit. Scott Feldman walked Craig, hit Pujols with a pitch, walked Freese intentionally, then walked Yadier Molina to score a run.

C.J. Wilson then came out of the bullpen, still with the bases loaded, and hit Rafael Furcal with the first pitch he threw to give St. Louis a 5-2 lead. They added another in the seventh on an RBI single by Molina and then the St. Louis bullpen took great care to shepherd the lead the rest of the way.

“Two months ago, we thought we were going to be watching the World Series on TV,” said Albert Pujols, who can declare free agency as early as tonight. “Now we stand here as World Series Champions. It’s hard to believe.”

For the Rangers it was a bitter disappointment to lose for the second consecutive year. Last season, they were taken out in a five-game World Series by the San Francisco Giants but had hoped to bring the first title to Texas, where the franchise has resided since 1972.


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