It has been a running theme for 2011, that’s for sure.
One more game. One more time. Backs against the wall. Here come the Cardinals.
After a thrilling night in Busch Stadium that seen the underdog Cardinals once again show the Phillies that they were not afraid of one of the “four aces”, game five will go back to Philadelphia and see two former teammates and current aces of their respective staffs square off for National League supremacy.
The Cardinals may have benefited from the appearance of the local Busch Stadium wildlife during game four, with antics being provided by a squirrel who has now made consecutive appearances in the LDS. More likely, the team benefited from the young man the fans call Batman, David Freese, who established himself in the lineup in game four.
A local boy who grew up in the St. Louis area, Freese became the first St. Louis native to hit a post season home run since the man that was announced as a finalist for the Ford C. Frick Award early that day, Mike Shannon. Freese’s two-run, sixth inning homer capped off a night that had already seen him drive in two runs with a double just two innings before. The four runs would be enough, though it was Lance Berkman’s RBI double that plated the Cardinals’ first run in the first inning. That play featured one of the most bizarre looking outfield plays in a long time with Shane Victorino falling down as he went to throw the ball back in from deep right center field. Victorino fell at the track and the ball rolled harmlessly away further towards the fence. Berkman moved to third on the error before being stranded.
Game five may not see the same amount of scoring, however.
Roy Halladay. That name strikes fear in Major League Baseball players across the country. The man can be dominant to the point of perfection. His previous start in this series showcased his talent in the form of the most retired batters consecutively in a post season game since Don Larsen through a World Series complete game. Not only did he decimate the Cardinals lineup after they put up a strong first inning, but he did it during a night start in game one, so the guys couldn’t even complain that it was the shadows that kept them from performing.
Drop by Baseball Digest and take a look at my article there concerning the epic pitching matchup that is brewing in the NLDS. Click here to read that article.
Chris Carpenter. A bulldog pitcher that reminds this writer of Orel Hershiser in his prime, he takes the mound and commands the field like very few pitchers of this generation. Coming off one of his worst starts to a season in 2011, he got strong down the stretch and was rewarded with a two year extension to his contract during the month of September (surprisingly enough, he was able to negotiate and sign that deal without any distraction to the team). This season was a down year for the Cardinal ace, but he prepares to show the rest of the league why with 11 wins he is still considered this team’s ace. He pitched on three days rest for the first time in his career in his only start in this series and it was not pretty. He comes back for game five with full rest.
With the win in game four, the Cardinals continue their prowess of winning games on “get away” days, or days that the team will board a flight after the game. Game five will give them the opportunity to continue on the new tradition of “Happy Flight” should they be able to solve Roy Halladay and put themselves back into the League Championship Series.
I wonder if there are squirrels in Citizen’s Bank Ballpark?
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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