Cardinals saved their worst for last

Posted by Scott Wuerz on October 31, 2013 

It didn't pan out the way we wanted.

But at least the nightmare World Series in which the high-scoring regular season St. Louis Cardinals couldn't get a hit when they needed it is finally laid to rest.

The Redbirds couldn't give us the break of not making the Game 6 loss the most excruciating of the four they dropped. Runners were all over the bases and, even after they fell back by six runs, there were moments when they made us think they could get back into it.

Allen Craig, the Birds' most consistent hitter in the World Series with a .375 batting average, came to the plate down 6-1 with the bases full. And, based on what I saw during the 2011 and 2012 playoff runs, I was just sure the hobbled slugger was going to find a pitch to pop over the Green Monster at Boston's Fenway Park to make it a one-run game.

When he grounded out sharply to second base the Fall Classic, for all intents and purposes, was over.

I'm alright with the fact that the Cardinals didn't win the World Series. I understand that they weren't at their best with Craig's ankle injury and Matt Carpenter slumping at the worst possible time. David Freese MUST be injured because he was absolutely terrible throughout the playoffs -- and not much better for much of the regular season. He had no power whatsoever at the plate and, instead of waiting on the ball and hitting it where it's pitched, he lunged wildly at pitches and was always in lousy hitting position.

The thing that bothers me about this Fall Classic is that I don't believe the country saw the Cardinals play anywhere near their best on the national stage. This is a club that never said die all season. They scored runs early and often and were almost always in games whether they were ahead or behind. But they just seemed listless and unfocused in the World Series.

The Boston Red Sox, by definition, deserve their World Series championship because they successfully navigated all the obstacles in their path to win. But I don't think they were a better team than a Cardinals club that played the way it could have. The team's rotations were similar. The Red Sox had an excellent leadoff man and cleanup hitter. But second baseman Dustin Pedroia had a thumb injury that has sapped his power all season and the bottom half of the Boston batting order, especially when playing without the DH in St. Louis, was nothing to write home about. The Cardinals could match leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury with Matt Carpenter who batted .318 with a .392 on base percentage and led the Senior Circuit in hits. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday were better hitters than what Boston could field in their two and three spots in the order because of Pedroia's injury. And then in the bottom of the order you've got .315 hitter Yadier Molina and Freese, a guy who has until lately always seemed to shine when it mattered most.

With no disrespect intended, I thought both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Detroit Tigers were more imposing foes than the Red Sox. Is there anyone who would argue that Los Angeles and Detroit didn't have significantly more dominating pitching than Boston?

And it's not like Boston played the perfect series and overwhelmed the Cardinals. The Red Sox made tons of fielding errors throughout the series that should have resulted in many more St. Louis runs. The difference was that the Red Sox were able to get hits when it could do the most damage. And the Redbirds, time and time again, were not.

 

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