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.
I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.
Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.
This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.
Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.