The final matchup for the Cardsblog side of the bracket in the Greatest Cardinal Moment tourney features two historic moments: Freese’s walk off homer and Wainwright striking out Beltran.
Holliday’s last home run finally ended it’s run as a ten seed, and we’re excited to see which moment is going to take our side of the bracket.
(1) David Freese Game 6 Walk Off
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.
(3) Wainwright Strikes Out Beltran, 2006 NLCS
First, let’s set the scene: NLCS, Game 7, Shea Stadium. The powerful 97-win New York Mets–the only team in the National League to win more than 88 games–against the scrappy 83-win Cardinals. Peak superstar Carlos Beltran against untested rookie Adam Wainwright.
Then, the curve. Oh, that curve.
Down 3-1 in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Mets had rallied to load the bases with two outs. A single would have tied the game, an extra-base hit might have won it.
And Beltran was frozen.
It’s the ultimate moment in the midst of the title run–the lid on a magnificent, classic Game 7, complete with an Endy Chavez homer-robbing catch and a Yadier Molina go-ahead shot. The prequel to the World Series win, which ended with another Wainwright curveball.
It’s one of the most memorable moments in Cardinals history, featuring a Redbirds legend and a worthy opponent. This one will be tough to beat.
Who is moving on to the semis, and who is going home? You decide!