Only 24 hours earlier, they were down to the last strike of their magical season in two different innings- and survived. And now here they were on the last Friday of October, at Busch Stadium, celebrating with anyone within hugging range, pulling on their championship T-shirts and spraying Brut Imperial champagne. The “Wild-Card” St. Louis Cardinals had done the impossible to capture their 11th World Series title. Here they were, the most improbable World Series champions who ever played, the title caps already perched on their heads, and it still didn’t make sense- even to the men who had made this dream come true. In one of the wildest championship runs in memory, the Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers, 6-2, in Game 7 of the World Series on Friday night.
In the history of baseball, only one other team had done what these Cardinals had just accomplished. Only one other team (the ’86 “Amazing” Mets) ever found themselves one-strike-away from the World Series abyss and survived to pop champagne. No squirrel was need on this night, as St. Louis’ will to win was unmatched. Call it kismet. After defying elimination for nearly two months, the Cardinals’ beat the odds to win their first championship since 2006, giving manager Tony La Russa his third World Series title and St. Louis’ leader Albert Pujols, his second.
They were ten-and-a-half games out of the playoffs on August 25th and played a month of virtual playoff games to earn a spot in the postseason, on the last day of the regular season, knocking out the Atlanta Braves. They entered the playoffs with the fewest wins, 90, and courageously fought through the postseason trailing their opponents in all three series. As Game 6 continued to echo on Friday, Game 7, although not as classic, still provided a memorable finish. The Cards made history Thursday night by staving off elimination twice and on Friday the Cardinals carried that momentum all the way to the chip. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Cardinals are the eighth team since 1980 to win the World Series after trailing 3-2. They’re the ninth straight home team to win Game 7 of World Series. And St. Louis has now won 8 of 11 Game 7’s in the Fall Classic.
Thousands of St. Louis Cardinals fans packed the lower level of Busch Stadium to greet their MVP, David Freese. The hometown hero, who grew up in the suburbs of St. Louis, capped the storybook tale by posting incredible postseason numbers. He hit .348, driving in seven RBIs, a home run with four runs scored in the Series. Freese delivered one of the all-time memorable performances in Game 6, and on Friday became the fourth Cardinal to win the World Series MVP and the sixth player in MLB history to earn MVP honors in the World Series and the LCS in the same season. The budding superstar joined Willie Stargell (’79), Darrell Porter (’82), Orel Hershiser (’88), Livan Hernandez (’97) and Cole Hamels (’08) as double MVPs.
He took to his twitter account after Game 6 improbable comeback victory to thank his fans and deliver a message about remaining focused on the game ahead. “Not much to say but thanks everybody. Like I said though… unfinished business. One more. #worldseries #totalteamwin.”
On Saturday morning, the 28-year-old, who had two runs batted in to bring the Cardinals back from a two-run deficit in the first inning, took to twitter again to humbly show his appreciation for Cardinal Nation. “St. Louis Cardinals are World Series Champs! Beat a great Texas team. Thank u Cardinal Nation. Helped make all this possible. #ring” Overall, the Cardinal’s third baseman’s 21 RBIs and 52 total bases are the most ever in postseason history and his 25 hits and eight doubles are tied for the most. “All my coaches from day one, starting with my dad, they’re the reason why I’m here,” he told ESPN, after his team clinch the title. “The support I’ve had through all the ups and down. Everybody deserves this.”