I've had the chance to see a lot of great things as a Cardinals fan. But I've never seen anything quite like watching a team that had most of pulling our hair out in mid-August turning the whole thing around to make the play-offs, beat the number one seed, beat their chief rival and make it all the way to the World Series.
Five games over .500 and drifting, the Birds re-started their motor and stormed back from 10 1/2 games to win the wildcard berth. If this was a movie, I'd walk out of the theater in disgust that someone would try to pass off such an unrealistic story.
Congratulations to St. Louis native David Freese who won the NLCS most valuable player award with a huge performance both at the plate and in the field. He hit .545 for the series and added another layer of protection to the Albert Pujols/Lance Berkman/Matt Holliday core of the St. Louis line-up.
I don't think there's any point of going through the blow by blow because, if you care enough about the Cardinals to come to this site, you've probably already heard how the game went. But let me say that I have never seen such an offensive free for all as what happened in the first half of the game.
The Birds jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to Freese's first inning three-run homer. But they let Milwaukee get one run in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-1. Rafael Furcal hit a two-out homer in the top of the second to get the run back and the Brewers answered with three runs to make the score 5-4.
Fortunately, the Cardinals didn't call off the dogs. In the top of the third they scored four runs in an inning for the second time of the game to build a 9-4 lead. After surrendering one more run, the relief crew settled in and held Milwaukee to a lone run the rest of the way to secure the 18th World Series appearance in team history.
Fortunately for the Redbirds, the six-game NLCS win will allow the club to use ace Chris Carpenter in the first game of the World Series. The Cardinals also seem well set for a match-up with an American League club. In the past they have suffered in interleague play without an obvious DH. But the emergence of Allen Craig changes all that. I suspect Craig will spend most of the time in the AL park in the DH role, but St. Louis manager Tony La Russa might give Lance Berkman or Matt Holliday one game off from fielding duty.
More on that later. Now is the time to celebrate and hope the Birds can win their 11th World Series championship in 2011.