It was Wilson who, 31
2 months ago, gave up the three-run homer to Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder in the fourth inning of the All-Star Game, sending the NL to a victory — which is how Game 7 of the World Series came to be played in St. Louis instead of Arlington, Tex., and, by extension, how the Cardinals became the ninth consecutive home team to prevail in Game 7 of the World Series.
When Craig took away a potential home run from Adrian Beltre with a leaping catch at the wall, helping Carpenter through a 1-2-3 sixth inning, the Cardinals were nine outs away from the title. And when Carpenter gave up a leadoff double in the seventh to David Murphy, La Russa yanked him — finally stopping Carpenter’s 2011 odometer at 2731
3 innings and 4,155 pitches — and initiated the nightly parade of mix-and-match relievers from his bullpen.
Behind series MVP David Freese the St. Louis Cardinals clinched the World Series with a win over Texas in Game 7, 6-2. (Oct. 28)
Lefty Arthur Rhodes recorded the first of those remaining nine outs. Right-hander Dotel was good for two. Lance Lynn breezed through his three batters in the eighth. Finally, closer Jason Motte entered for the top of the ninth, the entire stadium on its feet, the Cardinals’ infielders kicking anxiously at the dirt.
“Standing at first base, three outs left, and I’m just thinking about everything we’ve been through,” Pujols said. “. . . To be able to bring another championship to city of St. Louis is just amazing.”
A flyout, a groundout. And then the final pitch of the night, to David Murphy, sent a flyball to left, which almost perfectly traced the parabola of the Gateway Arch that stood in the distance. It settled into Craig’s glove — nine up, nine down for La Russa’s bullpen — and the Cardinals were champions for the 11th time in franchise history.
“It’s something we couldn’t have imagined eight weeks ago,” General Manager John Mozeliak said.
For these Cardinals, the feeling of standing at the pinnacle was a foreign one, given their day-to-day existence of pure survival-mode. You could even put a number on the improbability of their rise: At the end of play on Aug. 27, the computer-simulation Web site coolstandings.com calculated the Cardinals’ odds of making the playoffs at 1.1 percent.
In other words, at that instant, the Cardinals were 98.9 percent dead. But somewhere within the tiny, floundering organism that was their season, a faint heartbeat remained. And as the Rangers and all of baseball now understand, the Cardinals are never dead until it is silenced.