A pivotal postseason double vs. a franchise-defining moment, which Cardinals play will come out on top?
Will the Second Round be the round of the upset? In the opening round, both Freese’s Walkoff Home Run, the #1 seed, and Carpenter’s bases clearing double in the 2014 NLDS, the #8 seed, avoided the upset and advanced to the next round.
Both were clutch, backbreaking hits when the Cardinals needed them most, but Freese has the advantage due to the gravity of the situation and the round in which the moment occurred. Freese’s hit will be remembered as one of the best in the last 20 years, but Carpenter’s was also a key mark in the Dodgers’ postseason dominance over one of the greatest pitchers to ever play in the MLB, Clayton Kershaw.
Now, the two moments will square off with one another for a chance to head to the next round of the bracket. So, let’s get right down to it:
8.) Carpenter’s Double Off Kershaw, 2014 NLDS
2014 may have been Clayton Kershaw’s best year. He went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, a 7.7 K/BB and six complete games, all career bests. His opponents slugged .289 off of him, or lower than any qualified player this year. Kershaw was on an all-time great run heading into the postseason, with a 1.43 ERA since May 18.
Then he allowed four earned runs in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, more than he had allowed in all but one start that season. And that was before Matt Carpenter came to the plate.
With Kershaw at 102 pitches, the bases loaded and two runs already home in the frame, the Los Angeles Dodgers elected to stick with their ace still up 6-4. The rest is history.
Carpenter worked a marvelous eight-pitch at-bat, topping it off with a knockout of Kershaw by dropping a bases-clearing double in the gap. The Dodger Stadium crowd was silenced, their ace shockingly defeated again by Cardinals Devil Magic (TM).
It was the type of moment that made the rest of the baseball world question whether the best pitcher on the planet was capable of pitching in the postseason, and wonder how on earth St. Louis kept doing this.
1.) David Freese’s Walkoff Home Run In Game 6
The 2011 season for the Cardinals still feels like a dream in St.Louis. How did that happen? A mostly disappointing season capped by a historic run to a Wild Card Berth was enough to shock fans. But what happened in the playoffs made that season unbelievable.
Chris Carpenter’s shutout in game 5 of the NLDS to stun the best team in baseball, David Freese’s huge NLCS, and the Rally Squirrel sent this team to another Fall Classic that it probably shouldn’t have been in (i.e. 2006). But, nonetheless, they were there.
A back-and-forth series came back to St. Louis for Game 6 with the Rangers up three games to two. A bevy of errors and mistakes put the Rangers on the brink of their first World Championship in franchise history. Going into the ninth with a two-run lead and one of the best closers in baseball, Neftali Feliz, meant the World Series was all but over. A double by Albert Pujols and a walk to Lance Berkman set up NLCS MVP and hometown kid David Freese to save the season. Down to their final strike, a triple over the head of Nelson Cruz in right field gave the Cardinals new life and immediately became one of the best moments in Cardinals history.
The tenth inning quickly turned momentum back towards the Rangers after a Josh Hamilton 2-run home run put them back in the driver’s seat. After scrapping together a run in the bottom half of the inning, Texas native and Houston legend, Lance Berkman, became a St. Louis legend as well. Down to their final strike again with Jon Jay on second, Berkman blooped one into shallow center field to tie the game at nine.
Fast forward to the 12th inning of the game that has already become one of the best in baseball history when the man who carried his hometown team to this point steps up to the plate to lead off the inning. The excitement in Busch Stadium radiated to the rest of the nation. The ups and downs of the previous five hours needed to come to a close. Facing the Rangers’ least-used reliever, Mark Lowe, Freese put together a great at-bat. Going to a 3-2 count full of great swings by Freese gave all those watching a feeling that something was about to happen.
“Freese hits it in the air to center, and we will see you tomorrow night!” This call by Joe Buck quoting his father from game 6 of the 1991 World Series was the perfect call, for the perfect moment. The hometown kid saved the season for his team once again and sent them to the Game 7 that won them the 2011 World Series.
Greatest Cardinal Moment?
So which moment will continue to the Sweet 16, and which will end its journey in the round of 32?