2011 World Series recap

September 29th, 2022

The Cardinals entered the Fall Classic having proven their mettle, overcoming a rash of early-season injuries and a 10 1/2-game deficit on Aug. 25 to sneak past the Braves in the National League Wild Card just to get into the postseason.

Manager Tony La Russa's club would face its greatest test in the World Series, however, as the Cardinals and Rangers went back and forth in an unforgettable seven-game set.

With Chris Carpenter and C.J. Wilson on the mound for Game 1 at Busch Stadium, an unsurprisingly low-scoring contest ensued. With the game tied, 2-2, in the sixth inning, Allen Craig burst onto the scene, lining a pinch-hit single to right off Alexi Ogando, scoring David Freese and giving St. Louis a one-run lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Game 2 followed a nearly identical script until the ninth. Craig once again singled off Ogando to drive in Freese, giving the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the seventh. This time, however, it didn't stand up. La Russa removed closer Jason Motte in the ninth with two runners in scoring position, then watched relievers Arthur Rhodes and Lance Lynn serve up consecutive sacrifice flies to Josh Hamilton and Michael Young that gave Texas a 2-1 victory.

The Cardinals bounced back with a 16-7 rout of the Rangers, scoring the most runs in a World Series game since 2002, but Game 3 will be remembered for Albert Pujols putting together arguably the greatest hitting performance in World Series history. Pujols had three homers among his five hits, drove in six runs and compiled 14 total bases. The St. Louis first baseman tied World Series records for hits, homers and RBIs while setting a record for total bases and becoming the first person to do all of that in the same game. Only Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth had homered three times in a World Series game.

Rangers starter Derek Holland silenced the Cardinals' bats in Game 4, a 4-0 Texas win. The left-hander allowed only two hits and struck out seven over 8 1/3 innings, and Mike Napoli broke the game open in the sixth with a three-run homer off St. Louis reliever Mitchell Boggs.

Game 5 came down to a memorable miscommunication between La Russa and his bullpen. The Rangers eventually won, 4-2, but the Cardinals still had a chance as the game headed into the eighth inning tied at 2. La Russa twice tried to get Motte warmed up, but bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist didn't hear either request, setting up Napoli's go-ahead two-run double off left-hander Marc Rzepczynski -- dramatically swinging the momentum in Texas' favor.

Game 6 has been called one of the greatest games in baseball history, as the Cardinals staved off elimination throughout an unforgettable 10-9 win in 11 innings at Busch Stadium. The Rangers entered the ninth with a two-run lead and their first World Series championship in sight. But with two on, two outs and a 1-2 count, Freese bashed a game-tying triple just over Cruz's outstretched glove and off the right-field wall.

Texas once again took a two-run lead in the 10th on Hamilton's home run, and after manufacturing a run to cut the deficit in half, St. Louis was again one out away from defeat. But Lance Berkman laced a game-tying single to center, making the Cardinals the first team in World Series history to come back from two different two-run deficits in the ninth inning or later. There would be no deficit in the 11th, however, as Freese -- the eventual Series MVP -- blasted a walk-off home run to center field off Mark Lowe to force a Game 7.

The Cardinals left little room for suspense in what was already a classic World Series. Carpenter, making his third start of the Fall Classic, allowed two runs in the first but pitched five more scoreless frames. Freese drove in two runs in the first, Craig homered in the third and St. Louis plated two on a walk and a hit batsman in the fifth to break the game open. The Cardinals held on, capturing a 6-2 win and the franchise's 11th World Series title.

Path to the World Series
ALCS: Texas over Detroit (4 games to 2)
NLCS: St. Louis over Milwaukee (4 games to 2)
ALDS: Texas over Tampa Bay (3 games to 1); Detroit over New York (3 games to 2)
NLDS: Milwaukee over Arizona (3 games to 2); St. Louis over Philadelphia (3 games to 2)

Managers: Tony La Russa, STL; Ron Washington, TEX

MVP: David Freese, STL: .348, 1 HR, 5 RBIs