|Edmonds, the man who brought us a miracle in 2004, then gave us David Freese on his way out the door. |
On the 20th of October, 2004, Jim Edmonds
hit a walkoff home run in game six of the National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros
Bottom of the twelfth, Albert Pujols
standing on first base. The Cards had had to wait out the invincible Brad Lidge
for three innings as their own bullpen tried desperately to hold the Astros scoreless until the offense could break through. Edmonds came to bat against Dan Micelli
, a man whose name appears next to the term 'journeyman' in the Oxford English, and hit a towering drive to right field that set up a winner-take-all game seven. It was, to put it lightly, one of the great moments in postseason baseball history.
Seven years and seven days later, the man Jim Edmonds was traded for came to bat in the bottom of the eleventh inning of game six of the World Series and hit a walkoff home run to dead center field against Mark Lowe. It capped off one of the greatest games in postseason history with one of the greatest moments in postseason history.
Tim McCarver, in the wake of David Freese's heroics last night, for what I'm absolutely certain was the first time, spoke for everyone everywhere who witnessed that game and that moment.
"How did this happen?" he said.
Twice down to their final strike, the Cards somehow managed to pull it out in the end. I've compared this team to zombies on several occasions, and it still fits. A team that just chases and chases, stumbling along endlessly, until they've finally caught up to their prey. And now they're almost there.
There's really not much more to be said about the game last night. Or, perhaps, that's backward. There's far too much to be said about the game last night, enough that volumes could be written on the subject. Certainly one column, no matter how skilled or talented the sportswriter, could never suffice to put into words all we saw last night. All across America this morning, men and women are sitting down at their computers to try and capture the glory that was game six. Every single one of them will fail.
I left the Cardinals for dead after Nelson Cruz put a ball in the third deck in left that made the score 6-4 Rangers. Turns out that wasn't the end. It was only the beginning of the game, the same way 10.5 games back in September was only the beginning of the season.
Lost in the excitement and heroics of the later innings was just how sloppy a game it started out to be. Jaime Garcia was shaky, but pulled too early in my opinion. The defense tried to hand the game away. The Cardinals went eighteen outs without getting a ball out of the infield. Kind of like the May Cardinals, in fact.
Come to think of it, you could stick the whole 2011 season in this game if you wanted. The first inning run would be the Cards' slow start the first week of the season. Lance Berkman's two-run homer coincides with the solid second half of April. The dropped pop flies and offensive ineptitude give you the May/June doldrums. Back and forth, trying to tie the game up, treading water in July. Finally tying it, climbing back into the race. The back-to-back home runs off Lynn would be the darkest days in late August, when the team looked completely out of it. Tying the game off Neftali Feliz, the brilliant September run. The Josh Hamilton homer, the loss to the Mets late in September that put the Cards three games back and made us all think they had waited too long to get good. And then, finally, the tenth and eleventh inning rallies gave us the wins the last few days of the season, sneaking into the postseason.
Along the way to this moment, David Freese has won an MVP for the NLCS and established a new Cardinal franchise record for RBI in a single postseason with nineteen. He's also ensured free drinks and sex for the rest of his life in this town, I would imagine. Not a bad time to be that guy.
One more game to go. Someone is going to win, and someone is going to lose. And either way, I think we can all agree we've seen magic this October.