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Category: St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis comes to grips with Albert Pujols' departure

Pujols

St. Louis, in a phrase, feels jilted.

Albert Pujols, the slugger whose decade with the St. Louis Cardinals was capped with a World Series win this year, is now coming to the Angels, and many Cardinals fans aren't happy.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he was "disappointed" that Pujols opted "to take the dollars and head to California." Others speculated that Pujols' departure ensured that Hall of Famer Stan Musial would remain the greatest Cardinals player ever.

More than 400 readers left comments on the website of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Read one: "The hardest part of today was telling my 9 year old who cried when she heard the news."

PHOTOS: Albert Pujols through the years

The website also reported that one Pro Image Sports store in the St. Louis area was giving away its Pujols Cardinals jerseys that once fetched up to $129.99.

"It wasn't going to do any good to knock them down to $5 or $10," said the franchise owner, Paul Russo. "So I decided to prove a point that it's not about the money."

Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a statement that "I would like our fans to know that we tried our best to make Albert a lifetime Cardinal, but unfortunately we were unable to make it happen."

Meanwhile, a guard was stationed at a bronze statue of Pujols in the Maryland Heights section of St. Louis, just in case.

ALSO:

Angels take it from the top with Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson

Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson have years of highlights

Angels hit it out of park with Albert Pujols signing

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: Albert Pujols, right, holding his son Ezra, gestures toward a bronze statue of the ballplayer in St. Louis on Nov. 2 as sculptor Harry Webber, between Pujols and the statue, looks on. Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

World Series: How 'bout those Cowboys!

Rangers_600

Even though its baseball team made it to the last two World Series and its basketball team is the reigning NBA champion, Dallas -- and the entire state of Texas, really -- remains football country.

They didn't make "Friday Night Lights" about Game 7 of the World Series.

And that's all to the good. Because if Dallas took its baseball that seriously who knows the emotional carnage we would have been dealing with after the Texas Rangers came within a strike -- twice! -- of winning the World Series in Game 6, only to lose in extra innings. A night later the St. Louis Cardinals won the title.

The same thing happened to the Boston Red Sox in 1986, when they took a two-run lead to the bottom of the 10th against the New York Mets in Game 6. That's the game that ended with Mookie Wilson's ground ball squirting under Bill Buckner to score the winning run. The Mets rallied again in Game 7 to win the World Series, giving rise to the legendary Curse of the Bambino.

That won't happen in Texas. Twelve hours after the World Series ended, fans were already filing into college football games. And Sunday night the Dallas were scheduled to meet the Philadelphia Eagles.

Still, Rangers Manager Ron Washington said more people were beginning to care about his team, which drew nearly 3 millions fans during the hottest summer on record.

"It was nothing but the Dallas Cowboys," he said of the sports landscape when he first arrived in Dallas five seasons ago. "People love winners. And the Dallas Mavericks became a champion, a world champion, and the Texas Rangers began to develop four years ago, each year making progress.

"Last year we got an opportunity to go to the World Series. And in this business, I don't really consider yourself a winner until you can get the big one, which is the World Series. But we managed in four years to get there, and now in the fifth year we're there. I've never seen so much red, white and blue on the road with a "T" on it since I've been here. I mean, we have fans everywhere now, and we have great fans here that come out and support us. You know, and it's only because we're a winner. Everybody loves a winner.

"This town has changed, and I think the Texas Rangers have had a lot to do with some of the changes," Washington said. "But the Dallas Mavericks have, also, and the Dallas Cowboys have always. I know I'm happy to be in Texas."

Continue reading »

World Series: What they're saying

Nomar1Trolling the social media for World Series comments:

Former pitcher Ron Darling, now an analyst on TBS: “On the 'almost anniversary' of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, the St. Louis Cardinals had their moment by the Mississippi.  There were no villains last night, no Bill Buckners, just a bunch of guys who have decided for the last two months that they are going to win every time they are declared done." 

Former postseason hero Kevin Millar, now an analyst with MLB Network: “This was the greatest game I’ve ever seen in my life. We’ve never seen anything like this before. There were two runs in the ninth, followed by two runs in the tenth, and finished with a walkoff. I’ve played in some exciting games before, but this tops it. "

Fox TV commentator Chris Rose: “Game 6 of the World Series had more twists and turns than a Quentin Tarantino movie.  It also showed that you don't necessarily need the Yankees, Red Sox nor Phillies in the Fall Classic to create such compelling drama. 

Former All-Star slugger Frank Thomas: “All I can say is that in baseball you have never seen it all.” 

ESPN analyst and former Dodger Nomar Garciaparra: “It was one of those games the next day people are asking each other, 'Did you stay up and see that game?' And, 'How many people did you wake up to finish watching the game?'"
Continue reading »

World Series: Fox broadcast draws huge audience

World series
Thursday's dramatic World Series game drew more than 21 million viewers, Major League Baseball said Friday. At its peak nearly one-third of all U.S. houses using televisions were tuned in to the Fox network broadcast of the St. Louis Cardinals' 11-inning win over the Texas Rangers.

More than 8 of every 10 TVs in operation in Dallas and St. Louis were tuned in to the game.

Overall, Fox averaged an estimated 19.72 million viewers and a 12.0 rating and 19 share nationally, according to Nielsen Media Research, which tracks TV viewership. That swamped second-place CBS, which had a 12 share and 12.09 million viewers.

MORE:

Freese frame: Man of the hour

Hey, neither side is willing to give in

Rangers run through their pitchers in Game 6

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

 Photo: Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas. Credit:  Rob Carr / Getty Images.

World Series: Cardinals replace Holliday on roster

Matt
The St. Louis Cardinals will be without outfielder Matt Holliday in Friday night's decisive seventh game of the World Series after he was replaced on the roster by Adron Chambers.

Holliday, who hit just .158 in the Series, was injured in the sixth inning of Thursday's game when he hurt his hand diving back to third base on a pickoff attempt.

MLB Postseason rules provide that injured players can be replaced during the World Series if the severity of the injury, as determined by Major League Baseball, is such that it would require a disabled list assignment during the regular season.

On the play, Ranger third baseman Adrian Beltre placed his foot in front of the bag, preventing Holliday from reaching the base and tagging him out. But Holliday also jammed his hand against Beltre's foot and that turned out to be a key turning point in the game because Holliday was replaced by Allen Craig, who homered two innings later.

Craig will likely start in Holliday's spot in Game 7.

The Cardinals originally thought Holliday had a fracture but the medical staff said early Friday morning that it was a bad bruise with significant swelling.

The speedy Chambers had three hits in eight at-bats during the regular season and went 1 for 5 in the first two rounds of the playoffs, striking out the other four times. The Cardinals have mainly used him as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

RELATED:

World Series: Cardinals find another way to say thanks

World Series: Taking a Freese frame of Cardinals' comeback

World Series: Strategy backfires for Ron Washington, Rangers

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from St. Louis

Photo: Matt Holliday. Credit: Ezra Shaw / Getty Images.

World Series: Strategy backfires for Ron Washington, Rangers

Rangers
The St. Louis Cardinals went from elimination to elation by rallying to win Game 6 of the World Series in 11 innings Thursday, forcing a seventh game to decide baseball's championship Friday.

But across the field the Texas Rangers were riding the emotional roller-coaster in the other direction. Twice they were one strike away from the first title in franchise history, only to see the Cardinals come back both times, setting the stage for David Freese's walkoff home run leading off Mark Lowe leading off the 11th.

"I understand that it's not over until you get the last out," a dejected Ranger Manager Ron Washington said. "And I was just sitting there praying that we'd get the last out and we didn't get it."

Washington may have inadvertently aided the Cardinal comeback by twice walking batters, having closer Neftali Feliz pitch around Lance Berkman with first base open and one out in the ninth and ordering Scott Feldman to pass Albert Pujols intentionally in the 10th. It's a strategy Washington has used repeatedly in the Series, with generally good results. But his luck ran out Thursday.

Free-agent-to-be Pujols, who looked as if he may be hitting in a Cardinal uniform for the last time, started the ninth-inning rally with a double to left-center, his first hit since a record-setting performance in Game 3. Berkman, a switch-hitter who already had two hits including a first-inning home run, then walked. That gave Feliz and the Rangers good matchups with right-hand-hitters Allen Craig and David Freese to follow.

And Feliz struck out Craig for the second out before Freese drove a two-strike pitch to the wall in the right-field corner to tie the game.

The Rangers regained the lead in the 10th on Josh Hamilton's two-run homer but the Cardinals came back again in the 10th. In the bottom of the inning Washington again intentionally walked a hitter -- this time it was Pujols -- and Berkman made him pay, tying the game again with a run-scoring single.

Afterward Washington was doing little second-guessing.

"We had the right people in the right spot and they beat us," he said. "You've got to give them credit. They fought. They came back and they won the ballgame."

MORE:

World Series: Oh what a night (for Cardinal fans)

Cardinals' David Freese gets to live every child's dream

Cardinals and Rangers World Series: Superstitions abound

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

Photo: Manager Ron Washington of the Texas Rangers stands on the mound during Game Six of the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on October 27. Credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images.

World Series: Taking a Freese frame of Cardinals' comeback

Wohooo_600
Scroll down the St. Louis Cardinals roster and you'll find a lot of guys who can beat any team with their bat.

Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday.

But David Freese wouldn't normally be part of that list.

In 184 regular-season games, Freese has hit 15 home runs. He has five in 17 games this postseason.

In 604 regular-season at-bats, he has two triples. He got another Thursday when, down to his last strike, he tripled in two runs off Texas Ranger closer  in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. The Cardinals rallied from another two-run deficit in the 10th before winning Game 6 of the World Series in the 11th, 10-9, on Freese's leadoff home run, setting up a decisive Game 7 on Friday.

But it was Freese's at-bat against the hard-throwing Feliz that saved St. Louis' season -- for a night at least. And it was one in which he made some key adjustments.

"I just told myself stay short," he said. "He started me off with some off-speed so I was like 'now what's coming?' I just said 'heater'; that's what I hit. I just looked for something out over [the plate] and swung through a heater."

Freese looked so overmatched on that pitch that Feliz threw it again. Only this time the result was different with the Cardinal third baseman lining it into the right-field corner where Ranger outfielder Nelson Cruz appeared to have a play on it before jumping early and awkwardly, allowing the ball to carom off the padded wall for a game-tying triple.

"Kind of got the same pitch and didn't miss," Freese agreed.

But while Freese was clearly looking for something to drive with St. Louis an out away from elimination in the ninth inning, his approach was different leading off the 11th in a tie game.

"Just worked the count," said Freese, who hit a full-count pitch from Mark Lowe on to the grass berm beyond the center-field wall. "I was worried about getting on base leading off an inning. Taking a walk, broken-bat single. Whatever.

"I knew he had a good changeup so I kind of had that in the back of my head. He shook to the changeup and I got the [bat] head out."

The home run, by the way, gave Freese 12 runs scored and 19 runs batted in 17 postseason games, raising his OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) to 1.235. If he managed to do that over a full season, it would be the 15th-best mark in history.

RELATED:

World Series: Oh what a night (for Cardinal fans)

Cardinals' David Freese gets to live every child's dream

Cardinals and Rangers World Series: Superstitions abound

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

Photo: The St. Louis Cardinals' David Freese celebrates after hitting the game-winning solo home run in Game 6 of the World Series. Credit: Steve Nagy / MCT.

World Series: Cardinals find another way to say thanks

Tony

The Cardinals' Tony La Russa is an old-school manager, and as such he doesn't believe in conceding anything until the last out has been made.

Still, even La Russa figured St. Louis was done late in Thursday's Game 6 of the World Series. Before the game Cardinals' management had told La Russa that, should the team lose, it wanted his players to go on the field and thank the fans before Major League Baseball presented the Texas Rangers with the World Series trophy.

And while La Russa considered such talk negative before such a big game, in both the ninth and 10th innings Thursday he found himself reminding the team of its postgame obligations. The players, obviously, found another way to give thanks, staging improbable rallies each time before winning the game in the 11th, 10-9, on David Freese's leadoff home run.

"There was a couple of times, in the ninth and 10th with two outs, I told some of the guys, 'We've got to do the fans right,'" La Russa said. "So we went from that to celebrating. That's a big emotional change.

"Once it got started it's much more fun to think, 'Hey, we can do this' [than]  'Oh, it's not going to work.'"

MORE:

World Series: Oh what a night (for Cardinal fans)

Cardinals' David Freese gets to live every child's dream

Cardinals and Rangers World Series: Superstitions abound

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

Photo: Tony La Russa. Credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images.

World Series: Did Cards win or did Texas lose?

What happened

What came first, the chicken or the egg? If a tree falls in an empty forest, does it make a sound? To these timeless conundrums we add this one:

Did the St. Louis Cardinals win Game 6 of the World Series on Thursday or did the Texas Rangers lose it?

Regardless of the answer, the teams will meet again Friday for a decisive Game 7. And what happened in Game 6 will no doubt carry over in both clubhouses.

The Cardinals, who rallied from deficits five times before winning the game on David Freese's two-strike home run leading off the 11th inning, will come to the ballpark riding a massive wave of momentum. Despite making three errors, managing just three hits through the first seven innings, stranding 11 men on base and going 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position, St. Louis won, staving off elimination.

"There's a lot of reasons I'm really pleased," Cardinal Manager Tony La Russa said. "For one thing even though it didn't look good, we competed better than to get bounced out in six [games]. It's been an even series and now it's winner-take-all.

"It's just as exciting as it's supposed to be."

The Rangers, meanwhile, come to the park knowing they were one out -- one strike! -- away from their first World Series title in both the 9th and 10th innings, yet let it get away. And that happened despite the fact they got 15 hits; had go-ahead home runs from Adrian Beltre in the seventh and Josh Hamilton in the 10th; and received a gutsy performance from catcher Mike Napoli, who reached base five times and picked the go-ahead run off third base in the sixth inning while playing with a severely turned ankle.

Napoli had the World Series MVP sewn up if the Rangers had won. Now it's an open debate again.

But Texas also burned through its bullpen, using eight pitchers, which could leave them shorthanded in Game 7. Left-hander Matt Harrison is scheduled to start and he hasn't lasted longer than five innings in three postseason starts.

"We battled," Texas Manager Ron Washington said. "It's not that easy to win a world championship, as we found out tonight. We had the right people in the right spot and they beat us.

"We've been in tough situations before. We've always responded. I expect us to respond [Friday]."

RELATED:

World Series: Oh what a night (for Cardinal fans)

Cardinals' David Freese gets to live every child's dream

Cardinals and Rangers World Series: Superstitions abound

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from St. Louis

Photo: Yadier Molina reacts after drawing a walk to push Lance Berkman home for the tying run during Game 6 of the World Series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri, on Thursday. Credit: Steve Nagy / MCT.

World Series: Oh what a night (for Cardinal fans)

Fans

St. Louis is undeniably a baseball town, if for no other reason than the sport keeps football fans from dwelling on the fact that the Rams are winless nearly two months into the football season.

But Thursday's cardiac comeback, in which the Cardinals rallied from deficits five times -- the final two times after being down to their last strike -- to win Game 6 of the World Series has taken the fever pitch up a few octaves.

More than an hour after Thursday's game -- which lasted 4 hours and 33 minutes over 11 innings, the first extra-inning World Series game since 2005 -- several hundred fans remained in the stands behind the Cardinals' abandoned dugout, chanting.

The scene outside Busch Stadium was even more festive, with huge clots of fans, all dressed in Cardinal red, milling about the ballpark. No one seemed to want to leave, yet no one seemed to know what to do either. Which isn't surprising since there has never been a World Series game like Thursday's, one in which the Cardinals and Texas Rangers traded late-round punches like two heavyweight contenders before David Freese delivered the knockout blow with a solo homer leading off the 11th.

Every so often a fan in the excited but well-behaved crowd would shout out a tribute to the Cardinals, to Freese or just to life in general. And even at 1 a.m., sports-talk radio was buzzing with elated fans calling in just to have someone to share the moment with.

At Gateway Burgers in the Union Station Mall about a mile from Busch Stadium, workers were making plans to set up a mobile grill on Market Street for the Cardinals' victory parade -- and this was more than five hours before Game 6 even started.

Friday morning they were ordering more hamburger patties and buns.

RELATED

Freese frame: Man of the hour

Hey, neither side is willing to give in

Rangers run through their pitchers in Game 6

-- Kevin Baxter, reporting from St. Louis

Photo: Cardinals fans. Credit: Doug Pensinger / Getty Images.

Cardinals' David Freese gets to live every child's dream

Mob

World Series. Extra innings. One strike from elimination.

Every kid who's grown up playing wiffle ball in the backyard has imagined himself batting in that situation. And he always comes through.

St. Louis' David Freese got to do it for real on Thursday. And he delivered a two-out, two-strike, two-run triple in the ninth before winning the game with a leadoff home run in the 11th inning of Game 6, giving the Cardinals a 10-9 victory over the Texas Rangers and forcing a decisive seventh game Friday.

"Yeah, you imagine that scenario," Freese said. "It's all about knowing that this is the same game as when you're 6 years old. It's just elevated on a stage and everyone is watching.

"But you've just got to keep reminding yourself it really is the same game and you have a job to do and you try to execute. Sometimes you don't and sometimes you do."

Either way you have to answer for your actions afterward teammate Lance Berkman reminded Freese.

"When you're a little kid and you're out there, you don't have a bunch of reporters and fans that are ready to call you a choking dog if you don't come through," he said. "So when you're a kid you don't realize what a big moment that is. I'm just going to caution all little kids out there: Be careful what you wish for."

RELATED

Freese frame: Man of the hour

Hey, neither side is willing to give in

Rangers run through their pitchers in Game 6

-- Kevin Baxter in St. Louis

Photo: Dave Freese is mobbed by his teammates. Credit: Whitney Curtis / European Press Agency.

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