October 19, 2011: Cardinals win World Series Game 1

The Cardinals opened the 2011 World Series using the same recipe that got them there in the first place: dependable starting pitching, timely hitting, and sparkling relief.

Thanks to a diving play from starting pitcher Chris Carpenter, a two-run single by Lance Berkman, and three shutout innings from the bullpen, the Cardinals beat the Rangers 3-2 in front of 46,406 Busch Stadium fans in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series.

“I feel like we have to win the National League style of game if we’re going to win this thing, and tonight was a National League-style game – 3-2, good pitching, good defense, timely hitting,” Berkman said. “I don’t think we want to get into a gorilla-ball type series with these guys.”[1]

After beating the Brewers in six games in the NLCS, the Cardinals were able to turn to Carpenter, their ace, for the series opener. Through 17 innings that postseason, Carpenter had posted a 3.71 ERA, including a complete-game shutout of the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS.

“He’s our guy,” Berkman said. “When he takes the mound, we feel like we’re going to win the game every time.”[2]

The Rangers countered with their own ace, C.J. Wilson. The 30-year-old left-hander had gone 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA in 223 1/3 regular-season innings, but was roughed up in Game 1 of the ALDS when the Rays scored eight runs – six earned – in five innings. Wilson allowed two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in Game 1 of the ALCS, but received no decision in the Rangers’ victory. In Game 5 of that series, the Tigers scored six earned runs over six innings as Wilson took his second loss of that postseason.

In the early innings of Game 1, both Carpenter and Wilson looked sharp. Wilson worked around a two-out walk to David Freese in the second and a leadoff single by Nick Punto in the third. Carpenter, meanwhile, relied on the Cardinals’ defense, as Yadier Molina threw out Ian Kinsler attempting to steal for the first out of the game and Rafael Furcal started a 6-4-3 double play to end the second.

Wilson got into trouble in the fourth when he hit Albert Pujols with a pitch to lead off the inning and Matt Holliday doubled down the right-field line. On a 1-0 count, Berkman hit a chopper past Michael Young at first base to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead.

“Give up a ground ball right there that scores two runs, that’s unfortunate,” Wilson said. “Other than that, I thought I minimized damage and pitched strategically.”[3]

The Rangers tied the score in the top of the fifth. Adriane Beltre led off the inning with a single, and after Carpenter struck out Nelson Cruz, Mike Napoli launched a two-run homer to tie the game.

Texas threatened to tie the score in the sixth. Kinsler reached on an infield pop fly and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and a sacrifice fly. With two outs, Young hit a ground ball that Pujols fielded cleanly. However, with Young racing down the baseline, Pujols’ throw was offline and Carpenter was forced to dive headfirst to catch the relay before landing face-first on the base for the final out of the inning.

“I think we need to work on that one next spring,” Carpenter said. “It was just instinct. He threw the ball, it was a little out of my reach, and I dove. I was like, ‘I’m going to get it,’ and it turned out to work out.’”[4]

After six innings and four strikeouts, Carpenter had allowed two earned runs on five hits and one walk.

“The thing about Carp, he was exactly what we needed,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said.[5]

While Carpenter’s diving play got him out of the inning, Wilson wasn’t able to escape the sixth for the Rangers. David Freese got things started with a one-out double, then advanced to third on a wild pitch. After Wilson struck out Molina for the second out, he walked No. 8 hitter Punto on four pitches.

“I’m not going to let him get a hit,” Wilson said. “I know the situation there with the pitcher’s spot coming up.”[6]

With Wilson up to 94 pitches, Rangers manager Ron Washington turned to Alexi Ogando, the 27-year-old all-star who had started 29 of his 31 regular-season appearances. La Russa, in turn, called upon Allen Craig to pinch-hit for Carpenter.

Craig smacked a 1-2 pitch from Ogando into right field, just inches in front of a sliding Cruz, to score Freese and give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

“Man, he’s tough,” Craig said of Ogando. “He came right at me with fastballs and I missed the first two. Then that last one, I was trying to get the barrel on it, make the defense make a play.”[7]

“Craig is the best pinch-hitter we’ve got,” La Russa said, “but to come off the bench, in your first World Series, in your first at-bat, against that guy? Wow.”[8]

For his part, Washington refused to second-guess the decision to bring Ogando into the game.

 “He was my best pitcher I felt in that situation,” he said. “You have to give Craig credit. He beat him. We didn’t lose tonight. They beat us.”[9]

Before the Cardinals could claim that win, however, their bullpen needed to fend off the Rangers’ dangerous offense. In the seventh, Cruz singled and Fernando Salas walked Napoli to put runners at first and second with one out. Marc Rzepczynski entered the game and struck out Craig Gentry and Esteban German to end the inning.

In the eighth, Octavio Dotel retired Kinsler and Andrus before left-hander Arthur Rhodes got Hamilton to fly out to center field. In the ninth, Jason Motte retired Young, Beltre, and Cruz in order for his fifth save of the postseason.

“They had the pitching tonight,” Young said. “That was about it. Carpenter was really sharp and their bullpen pitched well. … They made pitches when they had to.”[10]


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Bernie Miklasz, “‘La Genius’ lives up to that label,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

[2] Joe Strauss, “Quality Start,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

[3] Drew Davison, “Postseason frustration builds for Rangers’ ace,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 20, 2011.

[4] David Thomas, “Cardinals build confidence with opening victory,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 20, 2011.

[5] Joe Strauss, “Quality Start,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

[6] Drew Davison, “Postseason frustration builds for Rangers’ ace,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, October 20, 2011.

[7] Ben Walker, “Craig’s single in 6th lifts Cardinals to win,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 20, 2011.

[8] Joe Strauss, “Quality Start,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

[9] Joe Strauss, “Quality Start,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

[10] Tom Timmermann, “Lumber Slumber,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 20, 2011.

October 16, 2011: Cardinals win the National League championship

The St. Louis Cardinals weren’t supposed to be here.

Not after Adam Wainwright went down with a season-ending injury in spring training. Not after they fell 10 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central Division and 10 ½ games behind the Braves in the wild card standings on August 24.

Yet somehow, they had gone 23-9 over their final 32 games to erase the Braves’ advantage and claim the wild card. Then they defeated the Phillies and their vaunted pitching staff in the NLDS. Now, with a 12-6 win in Game 6 of the NLCS over the Central Division champion Brewers, the Cardinals were headed to the World Series for the 18th time in franchise history.

“We had a long road,” said third baseman David Freese, the newly minted NLCS MVP. “We had to take the long way back after falling behind by 10 ½ games. We really had to work for this. We had to have a ton of heart, and this team deserves this reward.”[1]

“Improbably, incredible, overwhelming,” manager Tony La Russa said. “If you never lose your heart, and you keep trying, sometimes you can pull off something like this.”[2]

To pull it off, the Cardinals started right-hander Edwin Jackson, the right-hander they had acquired in a July trade with the Blue Jays that had included seven total players, including 24-year-old center fielder Colby Rasmus, who served as the centerpiece of the Blue Jays’ acquisitions in the trade.

Once in St. Louis, Jackson had gone 5-2 with a 3.58 ERA, helping the Cardinals make their late-season surge. Facing the Phillies in the NLDS, he allowed just two runs in six innings to earn the first playoff win of his career. In Game 2 of the NLCS, he pitched 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs in a game the Cardinals went on to win 12-3.

The Brewers started right-hander Shaun Marcum, who had struggled in each of his two previous playoff appearances for the Brewers. Despite going 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA in 200 2/3 regular-season innings, Marcum had allowed seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Diamondbacks in the NLDS. In Game 2 of the NLCS, the Cardinals roughed up Marcum for five runs in four innings.

Marcum’s struggles only continued in the first inning of Game 6 as Lance Berkman hit an RBI single and Freese followed with a two-out, three-run home run that gave St. Louis a 4-0 lead.

The front page of the October 17, 2011, St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“They were some kind of team in the first inning,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. “We couldn’t get away with anything.”[3]

With his one-inning appearance, Marcum finished with a 14.89 ERA in his three playoff starts, including a 16.20 ERA against the Cardinals.

“I’m not second-guessing anything there,” Roenicke said of starting Marcum. “It was the right decision.”[4]

Corey Hart led off the Brewers’ half of the first inning with a home run to cut the Cardinals’ advantage to 4-1.

In the second, former Cardinal Chris Narveson took the mound for the Brewers. The left-hander, whom the Cardinals had traded to Colorado in 2004 as part of a package for Larry Walker, had started 28 of his 30 appearances during the regular season, going 11-8 with a 4.45 ERA.

Narveson struck out Nick Punto and Jackson before Rafael Furcal hit a solo home run to make the score 5-1.

The Brewers answered with two home runs in the second inning. Rickie Weeks led off the frame with a solo homer, and after third baseman Jerry Hairston reached on an infield single, Jonathan Lucroy launched a two-run homer into the stands to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 5-4.

“When we got it to one run, everybody was excited, but we just couldn’t hold them down,” Lucroy said. “For me, calling pitches, it felt like Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams were all hitting against us. They were hot, real hot.”[5]

Albert Pujols started the Cardinals’ four-run third-inning rally with a line-drive home run. With the bases loaded, Punto hit a sacrifice fly to score Matt Holliday. After LaTroy Hawkins replaced Narveson on the mound, pinch-hitter Allen Craig hit a two-run single that extended the Cardinals’ lead to 9-4.

Fernando Salas entered the game in relief of Jackson and retired the side in order in the third, but allowed an RBI double to Yuniesky Betancourt in the fourth inning.

The Cardinals continued to add runs against the Brewers’ bullpen in the fifth inning. After Holliday and Freese each singled to begin the inning, Yadier Molina hit a ground ball to Hairston at third base. Hairston misplayed the ball, allowing Holliday to score, and two batters later, pinch-hitter Adron Chambers hit a sacrifice fly that scored Freese and extended the Cardinals’ lead to 11-5.

The Brewers added one more run in the sixth off St. Louis reliever Marc Rzepczynski and Pujols added an RBI single in the eighth to make the final score 12-6.

“Did they do anything wrong in this series?” Roenicke asked.[6]

Freese, who had gone 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored in the game, was named the NLCS MVP after going 12-for-22 (.545) with three doubles, three homers, and nine RBIs in the series.

“It means the world to me,” Freese said. “Not too many people get a chance to do this in their home town. It’s an unbelievable feeling. To be a part of this group of guys and this organization, it’s a dream come true.”[7]

Rzepczynski was credited with the win after throwing 2 1/3 innings of relief. Lance Lynn threw a scoreless eighth inning and Jason Motte shut the door in the ninth. When Motte struck out Mark Kotsay to end the game, he received a big hug from Molina.

The front page of the October 17, 2011, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports section.

“When I heard that ‘strike three’ called I looked at Yadi behind the plate and he’s standing there with his hands stretched out wide, so I figured I’d do the same thing,” said Motte, who threw the final inning in each of the Cardinals’ four wins in the series.[8]

For the series, the Cardinals’ bullpen had thrown 28 2/3 innings, more than the 24 1/3 innings thrown by St. Louis starting pitchers. Despite the workload, they posted a 1.88 ERA while holding the Brewers to just a .155 batting average.

“I wish I could chop the award up into pieces and give it to the bullpen. They deserve it,” Freese said.[9]

Pujols, Holliday, and Molina each had two hits in Game 6. For the series, Pujols went 11-for-23 (.478) with two homers and nine RBIs. Holliday was 10-for-23 (.435) with a homer and five RBIs, and Molina was 8-for-24 (.333) with two RBIs.

Now, they looked to carry that momentum into the World Series, where they were set to face the American League champion Texas Rangers.

“They earned this. They deserved this. And they will always be remembered for this,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote.[10]


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Bernie Miklasz, “A memorable journey,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[2] Bernie Miklasz, “A memorable journey,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[3] Joe Strauss, “Redbirds win slugfest; Freese earns MVP honor,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[4] Dennis Punzel, “Fright from the start,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 17, 2011.

[5] Dennis Punzel, “Fright from the start,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 17, 2011.

[6] Joe Strauss, “Redbirds win slugfest; Freese earns MVP honor,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[7] Dan O’Neill, “MVP Freese says winning is a dream,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[8] Bryan Burwell, “Improbably pennant wasn’t easy for Cards,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[9] Joe Strauss, “Redbirds win slugfest; Freese earns MVP honor,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

[10] Bernie Miklasz, “A memorable journey,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 2011.

October 14, 2011: Cardinals capitalize on Brewers’ errors to win NLCS Game 5

It’s an old baseball axiom that pitching and defense win championships. The Cardinals certainly used that formula to beat the Brewers 7-1 in Game 5 of the 2011 NLCS.

With the series tied 2-2, the Cardinals pounced on four Brewers errors and once again relied upon a bullpen that had allowed just four earned runs in 17 1/3 innings in the series.  

“It was a big game for them but it was a bigger game for us,” said Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman. “You don’t want to have to go back to Milwaukee and have to win two games back to back. It’s going to be tough to win one game.”[1]

Game 5 was a rematch of Game 1’s pitching matchup, with Jaime Garcia taking the mound for the Cardinals against the Brewers’ Zack Greinke. Neither pitcher had much success in the series opener. Greinke earned the win despite allowing six runs over six innings, while Garcia took his second loss of the postseason after allowing six runs over four innings.

While Game 5 proved to be a much-improved outing for Garcia, it was a disappointing outing for Greinke. After the 2009 Cy Young Award winner cruised through a 1-2-3 first inning, the Cardinals rallied for three runs in the second.

Berkman led off the inning with a line-drive single into center. Two batters later, Greinke hit David Freese with a pitch and Yadier Molina followed with one of his three hits on the night, a double into right field that scored Berkman. With two outs, Garcia hit a ground ball that went between the legs of Brewers third baseman Jerry Hairston, who had just made a nice diving catch on a Nick Punto line drive. Freese and Molina both scored on the play to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 3-0.

“I look back at it and there’s nothing I would have done different,” Hairston said. “The pitch was up. He’s a good athlete, so I’m playing up because he might bunt for a hit. He hits a rocket and it hits the lip and just stays down. Sometimes at the hot corner at third base, you’re at the mercy when a guy hits a bullet. He hit a bullet and it just stayed down.”[2]

St. Louis played a bit of small ball in the fourth, as Freese and Molina each singled. After running down to the third base coach’s box to make sure he’d read the sign from Jose Oquendo correctly, Punto laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Freese scored when Garcia grounded out to the shortstop to make the score 4-0.

Punto credited the run to Cardinals manager Tony La Russa.

“Tony’s creative,” Punto said. “His thinking was ‘get them over’ and we might get lucky with the pitcher, and if we don’t, we might get lucky with (Rafael) Furcal coming up and runners at second and third, and that’s what happened. Tony’s always a step ahead. It was a great call and it worked out.”[3]

Milwaukee got on the board in the fifth when Corey Hart hit an RBI single off Garcia. When Hairston followed with a single into left field, bringing Ryan Braun to the plate with two runners on, La Russa turned to his bullpen. Octavio Dotel, the 37-year-old right-hander acquired from the Blue Jays in July, struck out Braun to end the inning, then returned to the mound in the sixth to retire the side in order.

“Righty against righty is better than lefty against lefty,” said Dotel, who had eight strikeouts against Braun in 10 career meetings. “I guess I’m lucky against him.”[4]

“I wasn’t shocked at all by the move,” Berkman said. “If it was the regular season, yeah, I would’ve been surprised, but it’s not. It’s the playoffs. It’s a situation where it’s better to make a move too early than to make it too late.”[5]

The Cardinals added another run in the sixth when Furcal hit a two-out double and Jon Jay reached on an error by Brewers shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt. Albert Pujols capitalized on the extra opportunity with a single to left that scored Jay and gave the Cardinals their third unearned run of the evening.

With a 5-1 lead, Lynn threw a scoreless seventh inning. After Hart and Hairston each reached base in the eighth, Lynn retired Braun and Marc Rzepczynski entered the game to strike out Braun. With four outs remaining, Jason Motte was called upon to retire Rickie Weeks to close out the eighth inning.

Matt Holliday hit a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth, extending the lead to 7-1 before Motte retired the side in order in the ninth. With Motte’s perfect ninth, the Cardinals’ bullpen had a 0.82 postseason ERA.

“It was a very important game for us, a must-win,” Holliday said.[6]

Dotel earned the win after striking out two of the four batters he faced.

“I feel like I saved the game,” Dotel said.[7]

Garcia threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits and no walks. He struck out five.

Greinke took the loss for the Brewers after allowing five runs – two earned – in 5 2/3 innings.

“He can’t control the defense,” Berkman noted.[8]

Holliday and Molina each had three hits for the Cardinals. Holliday’s three hits represented a big step forward for the slugger in his recovery from a hand injury that kept him out of the starting lineup in the first three games of the NLDS. In the NLCS, La Russa moved Holliday out of his traditional cleanup spot after La Russa said it was “unfair” to the left fielder.[9]

Now Holliday and the Cardinals were just one win away from the World Series.

“We didn’t play our best game and they took advantage of it,” Hairston said. “It’s one of those things where you can’t give that team extra outs, any big-league team, but especially that team. It was a little uncharacteristic of us.”[10]


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[2] Dan O’Neill, “Brewers’ bungling adds up,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Punto gets a chance, does the right things,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[4] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[5] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[6] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[7] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[8] Joe Strauss, “Bullpen does it again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[9] Derrick Goold, “Holliday is back on track,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

[10] Dan O’Neill, “Brewers’ bungling adds up,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 15, 2011.

October 12, 2011: Cardinals’ bullpen stars in NLCS Game 3 win

Early in the 2011 season, a five-inning start from Chris Carpenter wouldn’t have been enough for the Cardinals and their beleaguered bullpen.

By October, however, the Cardinals’ once-shaky bullpen had become key to their success, as evidenced by the four innings of scoreless relief provided by Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski, and Jason Motte in a 4-3 NLCS Game 3 victory.

Heading into the series, the Cardinals recalibrated their bullpen. Jake Westbrook, who had been a starter throughout the regular season and was moved to the bullpen for the NLDS vs. the Phillies, was left off the roster. When Skip Schumaker suffered an oblique injury, his roster spot also went toward reloading the bullpen, as the Cardinals added Kyle McClellan and Lynn, both of whom were capable of pitching multiple innings.

It was just one more step in strengthening a bullpen that the Cardinals upgraded when they traded Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays in July for outfielder Corey Patterson, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson, and relievers Octavio Dotel and Rzepczynski.

“What they did at the trade deadline and what we’ve done since then is we’ve gotten pretty deep and they’re not afraid to use us,” Lynn said. “Guys started to figure out their niche out there. Things got smoother.”[1]

Carpenter was coming off a three-hit, complete-game shutout of the Phillies in Game 5 of the NLDS, but he never seemed to get settled in against the Brewers. In the first inning, he walked Mark Kotsay and hit Ryan Braun with a pitch. With runners on first and second and one out, Prince Fielder flied out to center fielder Jon Jay, who ended the inning when he threw out Kotsay as he tried to advance to second.

The momentum of Jay’s double play carried over to the bottom of the first against Brewers starter Yovanni Gallardo, who entered the game with a 1-7 career record and 5.66 ERA against the Cardinals. Rafael Furcal led off with a single up the middle and advanced to second when Gallardo uncorked a wild pitch. Jay doubled to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard, and Albert Pujols followed with a ground-rule double that scored Jay.

Battling his control, Gallardo walked both Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman before Molina hit into a double play that scored Pujols. David Freese followed with the Cardinals’ third double of the inning to make the score 4-0.

“I think I was off the whole game, to be honest with you,” Gallardo said. “Even after that first inning, the four innings after that, I was just struggling. I was battling to put the ball where I wanted to.”[2]

The Brewers immediately cut the Cardinals’ lead in half in the second inning as Rickie Weeks, Jerry Hairston, and Yuniesky Betancourt hit consecutive singles and Gallardo added a sacrifice fly. One inning later, Kotsay homered to cut the Cardinals’ lead to 4-3.

“I got a first-pitch fastball and put a good swing on it,” Kotsay said. “At that point, I thought we had the momentum on our side.”[3]

Carpenter worked around an infield single in the fourth and two walks in the fifth. After five innings and 89 pitches, his night was complete. The Cardinals ace had allowed three earned runs on six hits and three walks.

“All night long it was a battle, but you know what? That’s what it’s all about in the postseason,” Carpenter said. “Our bullpen did a phenomenal job to finish it out.”[4]

Salas, who had posted a 2.28 ERA and saved 24 games during the regular season, retired Hairston, Betancourt, and Jonathan Lucroy in order in the sixth. The rookie Lynn followed with a 1-2-3 seventh, getting fly balls from Nyjer Morgan, Corey Hart, and Kotsay.

Lynn returned for the eighth inning, getting Braun to ground out to Nick Punto at second base before Cardinals manager Tony La Russa called on Rzepczynski to face the left-handed Fielder. Rzepczynski struck out Fielder on four pitches before La Russa once again played the match-ups, turning to Motte to get the final four outs of the game.

Motte struck out Weeks to finish the eight, then rolled through the ninth, getting Hairston to ground out before striking out Betancourt and pinch-hitter Casey McGehee to end the game. It was the perfect way to cap a dominant performance from the Cardinals’ bullpen, which held the Brewers hitless over four innings of work.

“To me, the thing that has gone the furthest has been Motte stepping up and being the closer,” Berkman said. “Now we’ve got a guy throwing 100 with a nasty slider. It’s a presence, a force out there.”[5]

For the postseason, St. Louis relief pitchers had held opponents to a .185 batting average.

“We knew their bullpen was good, but when you have guys that are throwing that hard, they don’t walk people, they have good sliders … they’ve got good arms,” Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said.[6]

“The bullpen is feeding off each other right now,” Rzepczynski said. “One guy is going in, getting a guy out, and then another situation calls someone else in. We’re succeeding right now. We’re going to keep it going in this series.”[7]

Though he wasn’t his sharpest, Carpenter earned his second win of the 2011 postseason and his seventh career postseason win, tying a franchise record set by Bob Gibson. Motte was credited with the save.

Freese led the Cardinals’ offensive efforts with three hits, including a pair of doubles. Pujols added two hits and was intentionally walked twice.

With the win, St. Louis was entering Game 4 with a 2-1 series lead.

“They’re way too good over there for us to take victories for granted,” Freese said.[8]


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Derrick Goold, “Bullpen saves the day,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

[2] Tom Oates, “It’s official: Trouble is brewing,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 13, 2011.

[3] Dennis Punzel, “Rally out of reach,” Wisconsin State Journal, October 13, 2011.

[4] Joe Strauss, “High-stakes performance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

[5] Joe Strauss, “High-stakes performance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

[6] Bryan Burwell, “Drama continues,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

[7] Derrick Goold, “Bullpen saves the day,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

[8] Joe Strauss, “High-stakes performance,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 13, 2011.

October 10, 2011: Pujols drives in five as Cardinals even the NLCS

Game 1 of the 2011 NLCS had been a tough one for Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals. After jumping out to a 5-2 lead, the Cardinals allowed a pair of two-run home runs in the fifth inning of what turned into a 9-6 Brewers win.

Most frustrating for Pujols was his at-bat in the seventh inning with the Cardinals trailing 8-5. With runners on first and third and no one out, Pujols bounced into a 5-4-3 double play that scored leadoff man Rafael Furcal but also effectively killed the chance at a rally.

“Going to bed I was just thinking of so many opportunities I had to help the team win,” Pujols said. “I turned the page. I thought what could I do to help the team win. I turned the page. I thought what could I do to help the team win today.”[1]

Prior to Game 2, Pujols had been relatively quiet through the Cardinals’ Division Series win over the Phillies and the opening game of the NLCS. As Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, “Pujols had a .333 batting average through his first six postseason games of 2011. But it was a quiet and rather blah .333; Pujols had no homers and only one run batted in. Pujols had the hits, but where was the thunder?”[2]

In Game 2, the thunder came in the form of a home run, three doubles, and five RBIs from Pujols to spark a 12-3 victory that evened the series before it returned to St. Louis for Game 3. Cardinals second baseman Nick Punto said he could see Pujols’ intensity in pregame batting practice.

“He didn’t have a lot to say but I knew something was going to happen,” Punto said. “I’ve seen that a few times with him. I saw it a few times with (former Twins teammate Justin) Morneau. If you ever get him down, watch out.”[3]

Pujols and Jon Jay, who finished with three hits of his own on the day, sparked the Cardinals in the first inning. Jay laid down a bunt for a one-out single.

“It was one of those feelings I got, just go for it right there,” Jay said. “I went with my gut feeling that now was the good time to do it. It was the first inning, time to get something going.”[4]

Pujols, who had been 1-for-9 for his career against Brewers starter Shaun Marcum, followed with a two-run homer to get the Cardinals on the scoreboard. The home run was Pujols’ ninth NLCS home run, breaking a tie with Steve Garvey for the most in a career.

“Marcum has had success against Pujols this year,” Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “You look at those balls. They’re all elevated in the zone, but you elevate balls to a guy like Pujols, he’s going to make you pay for it.”[5]

In the third inning, starting pitcher Edwin Jackson and Jay each singled before Pujols doubled to the center-field wall. Nick Punto added an RBI single in the fourth to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 5-0.

In the bottom of the fourth, Brewers cleanup hitter Prince Fielder doubled and second baseman Rickie Weeks followed with a two-run homer that cut the Cardinals’ lead to 5-2.

That was as close as the Brewers would come. Jay and Pujols hit back-to-back doubles to lead off the fifth and, with two outs, Pujols scored on a wild pitch to put the Cardinals ahead by five runs once more.

The Brewers threatened again in the bottom of the fifth when Jackson walked Corey Hart and allowed a ground-rule double to Ryan Braun. Arthur Rhodes entered the game to face Fielder, but walked him to load the bases.

With just one out in the inning, La Russa turned to Lance Lynn, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound right-hander out of Ole Miss, to face Weeks. Lynn had come up through the Cardinals’ system as a starter, but been used primarily out of the bullpen in his rookie year, making 16 relief appearances and even earning a save while posting a 3.12 ERA. An oblique strain had kept him out of action late in the season, but the rookie was reactivated in time for Game 1 of the NLCS.

“The best way to say it is this: We’re not reluctant to use him,” Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan said. “There’s no reluctance on Tony (La Russa)’s part or my part to put him in the game. You might see him in any situation.”[6]

In this situation, Weeks swung at Lynn’s first offering and hit a ground ball to the shortstop Furcal to begin a 6-4-3, inning-ending double play.

With the momentum on their side, the Cardinals rallied for four more runs in the seventh inning off Brewers reliever Kameron Loe. Among their six hits in the frame, the Cardinals got RBI singles from Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, David Freese, and Punto to extend their lead to 11-2. Pujols started the rally with a one-out double down the right-field line, setting a new League Championship Series record with his third double in a nine-inning game.

“Sometimes when they come, they come in a bunch,” Pujols said.[7]

“He was Albert,” Fielder said. “It’s no surprise. Former MVP. That’s what he does.”[8]

Fielder hit a solo home run off Mitchell Boggs to lead off the eighth, and Freese answered in the top of the ninth with a home run of his own.

Jason Motte retired the side in order in the ninth to cap off the win and even the NLCS at one game apiece.

Complementing Pujols’ five-RBI day was Jay, who went 3-for-5 and scored three runs – all on Pujols hits.

“I have all these veterans tell us take advantage of every opportunity you have,” Jay said. “Even in the offseason, when I’m working out, I’m not saying, ‘Hey, I want to have a good season.’ I want to get to the postseason. My goals aren’t, ‘Hey, let’s play the season and see what happens.’ I want to win. I want to be known as a winning player. That is one of the things that drive me.”[9]

Lynn’s single pitch was enough to earn him the first postseason win of his career. Fernando Salas, Marc Rzepczynski, and Motte each threw scoreless innings.

Marcum took the loss for the Brewers after allowing five earned runs in four innings.

“They did a great job hitting tonight,” Fielder said. “That pretty much wraps it up.”[10]


Enjoy this post? Follow STLRedbirds.com on Twitter or enter your email below to get new posts sent directly to your inbox!


[1] Joe Strauss, “Power surge for Pujols,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[2] Bernie Miklasz, “So, what do you think now?” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[3] Joe Strauss, “Power surge for Pujols,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[4] Derrick Goold, “Jay finds comfort in two spot,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Game 2 is bumpy for Brewers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[6] Derrick Goold, “Lynn proves his value to Cards as reliever,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[7] Chris Jenkins, “Cards get even,” Green Bay Press-Gazette, October 11, 2011.

[8] Rick Hummel, “Game 2 is bumpy for Brewers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[9] Derrick Goold, “Jay finds comfort in two spot,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.

[10] Rick Hummel, “Game 2 is bumpy for Brewers,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 11, 2011.