David Freese plays the hero again as Cards force Game 7

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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.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.