Cardinals win 11th World Series behind Chris Carpenter

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It looked bleak early.

Chris Carpenter, who had never started on three days’ rest before getting roughed up by the Phillies to start the NLDS nearly four weeks ago, managed to give up two first-inning runs despite a boneheaded move by Ian Kinsler, who got picked off first base after a leadoff single. Seemingly without his best fastball, he gave up a walk and back-to-back doubles before he retired a batter and eventually escaped the inning.

Who knew then that the entire rest of the game would belong to the Cardinals?

Game 6 hero David Freese delivered a game-tying two-run double in the bottom of the first, and Carpenter bounced back to pitch five scoreless frames as the Cardinals beat the Rangers 6-2 to claim an 11th World Series crown.

St. Louis took a 3-2 lead in the third on an Allen Craig homer. It was in the fifth, though, that the Rangers really gave the game away. A walk, a HBP and an intentional walk to David Freese loaded the bases and then a walk to Yadier Molina and the second HBP of the inning plated runs. An insurance run came in the seventh, as Molina singled in Lance Berkman to make it 6-2.

Carpenter, who received another chance to start on three days’ rest only because of Wednesday’s rainout, got better every inning. He escaped a jam with runners on the corners in the second and then allowed just a HBP and a single over the following four frames. He even talked his way into coming back out for the seventh, only to leave immediately after giving up a leadoff double.

The bullpen finished the job done from there. Arthur Rhodes and Octavio Dotel pitched around the double in the seventh, Lance Lynn worked a perfect eighth and Jason Motte was sharp in the ninth.

The Rangers showed surprisingly little life after the first. Nelson Cruz hit their long drive of the night, a shot to left that may have snuck over the wall if not for a jumping Craig. Still, it only would have been a solo shot. Texas had just one baserunner during the final four innings.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.

“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”

Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.

The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.