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Freese’s Heroics Put Cards 1 ½ Games Back In Wildcard Race
Posted By Chaz Ingram On Sep 22 2011 @ 6:53 pm In St. Louis Cardinals | No Comments
I will admit in my previous articles I gave the impression that if the Cardinals didn’t win the NL Central crown this year that their 2011 season was all but lost. I put no emphasis on the fact that there was a real possibility that the Redbirds could make it into the playoffs by way of a wildcard berth. The Cardinals inched their way closer to that possibility becoming reality by beating the New York Mets 6-5 last night at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
David Freese was the hitting star for the night as he drove in five runs and helped the Cardinals move to within 1 ½ games of the Atlanta Braves in the Wildcard Race. Atlanta lost Wednesday night to the Florida Marlins 4-0. Freese, who went 2-4 with a HR and a triple confessed after the game that the 3 run HR (his 10th of the season) was “the biggest hit of my career”.
Jaime Garcia pitched 7 2/3 innings and earned his 13th victory of the season and
combined with relief pitcher Jason Motte who went 1 1/3 innings for his 8th save to secure the Cardinals 12th win in their last 14 games. The Redbirds have gone 14-5 in the month of September and shaved 7 games off the Braves lead which once stood at 8 ½ games on September 1. Atlanta has gone 8-13 during the month of September.
The heart of the lineup, Freese, Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman did most of the damage combining for 5 of the Cardinals 9 hits. Thanks to Freese’s heroics the trio scored 5 of their 6 runs. With two outs in the bottom of the first inning Pujols doubled to right field. After Mets starter Chris Schwinden intentionally walked Cardinals RF Lance Berkman, Freese made him pay by lining a triple down the right filed line that scored Pujols and Berkman to give the Redbirds a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the third the Mets made Garcia pay for baseball’s “Cardinal sin“- pun intended – giving up a hit to the opposing pitcher. After striking out the first two batters in the inning and nursing a 3-0 lead Garcia allowed Schwinden to reach base on a single to right. Mets shortstop Jose Reyes followed that hit with a double of his own down the left field line. Cardinals shortstop Rafael Furcal committed his 13th error of the season allowing Angel Pagan’s routine ground ball to go under his glove into left field to make the score 3-2. After a David Wright infield hit pinch hitter Josh Satin hit a line drive to the gap in left center to score Wright and give the Mets a 4-3 lead.
That set the stage for Freese’s heroics in the bottom of the seventh inning. The inning started rather inconspicuously as Mets relief pitcher Miguel Batista got Furcal to ground out and leftfielder Allen Craig to strike out. Pujols began the dramatics with a two out single to center.
That forced Mets manager Terry Collins to summon lefthander Dan Herrera from the bullpen to force Cardinals switch hitter Berkman to the right side of the plate. The strategy backfired as Berkman singled to left. Collins went to the bullpen again and called on Pedro Beato. Freese stepped to the plate and lined a 3-1 pitch over the right filed wall for a 3 run homer and a 6-4 Cardinal advantage.
Despite giving up a ninth inning homerun to the Mets’ Willie Harris Cardinals relief pitcher Jason Motte recorded his 8th save and set up a possible sweep in the series finale today. With a win today the Cardinals could move within one game of Atlanta as the Braves have the day off.
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