The fairytale continues for a certain St. Louisan.
Cardinals third baseman David Freese, a child of the Gateway City’s western suburbs, played the hero two different times in Thursday night’s thrilling 10-9 Game 6 victory over the Rangers, continuing to build on his magical 2011 postseason run.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Cardinals down 7-5, Freese ripped a ball over the head of Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz to score Albert Pujols from second base and Lance Berkman from first. Then in the 11th, with the Redbirds needing a final knockout punch, Freese launched a walkoff home run to straightaway center field.
Freese muffed an easy pop-up earlier in the game, and he’s struggled at other times defensively throughout this improbable October run, but his bat has more than made it up for his misgivings at the hot corner.
The 28-year-old was 5-for-18 with a home run, two doubles and five RBI in the Cardinals’ NLDS defeat of the Phillies, then went 12-for-22 with three home runs and nine RBI in the Birds’ NLCS defeat of the Brewers. And now he’s 7-for-21 with a home run, two doubles, a triple and five RBI in this stunning Fall Classic.
Freese has tallied 48 total bases in these playoffs, setting an all-time record. Behind him is teammate Albert Pujols, who has 47. We’d bet that will might find a long-term crown-wearer in Friday night’s Game 7.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.