What they’re saying about the Cardinals winning the World Series

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The Cardinals defeated the Rangers 6-2 last night to win Game 7 of the World Series and their 11th World Championship. Here’s some reaction from around the baseball world:

Albert Pujols: “We had a 5 percent chance (to reach the playoffs) with 35 games left in the season. We knew we had to play great. The first five months of the season were pretty bad. But it doesn’t matter. We’re world champions.”

Bill DeWitt, Jr.: “[Losing Adam Wainwright] was a bad hit in Spring Training, and Tony was great. He said it’s not fair, but we’re not going to give up. This is a good club and we’ve got a shot. We’ll just do everything we can to win with what we’ve got.”

Tony La Russa: “It was overwhelming. We were on the edge game after game after game. You might lose one, but as it got closer, elimination games, the character on this club is off the charts. And we are more talented I think than some people realize, especially as we got healthy. But you play with that urgency, it’s a little scary at times and it takes a lot out of you, but it’s really fun to compete that way.”

Jayson Stark: No team had ever won a World Series after finding itself 10½ games out of a playoff spot on Aug. 25 or later. No team had ever won a World Series after finding itself 8½ games out in September. No team had ever won a World Series after being one strike away from extinction in back-to-back innings of the same World Series game. But this team is special.

Matthew Leach: If there’s one trait that defines La Russa teams, year in and year out, it’s a businesslike approach to the game. Win today’s game, don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. He hammered that home prior to Friday’s game, when he stopped reporters from pursuing a line of questioning regarding that already famous Game 6. If he was going to ask his players to focus only at the game at hand, he was going to do the same. And they certainly did, playing crisply while the Rangers stumbled.

Bernie Miklasz: That’s why, of the Cardinals’ 11 World Series champions, this may be the most unusual. A case can be made that these Cardinals pulled off the greatest comeback in MLB history. There are other legitimate candidates, such as the 1914 Boston Braves, or the 1978 New York Yankees. But no team had ever won it all after being 10½ games out of a playoff spot as late as Aug. 24.

Shane Victorino: Congrats to the Cardinals! Play the best baseball in October! Tip my hat! 11 in 11 whoa ironic!

Ron Washington: “Sometimes when opportunity is in your presence, you certainly can’t let it get away because sometimes it takes a while before it comes back. If there’s one thing that happened in this World Series that I’ll look back on is being so close, just having one pitch to be made and one out to be gotten, and it could have been a different story.”

Mike Adams: “We probably needed an extra day to come back from that game. It was so emotionally draining. I was so tired, and I threw three pitches. There’s a lot more to it than just the physical part of it.”

Adrian Beltre: “We all know we lost the Series yesterday. We shouldn’t have let it slip away. We came back today to try to win it, but the momentum just took them and they won it. It’s not a nice feeling.”

Ken Rosenthal: So, don’t compare the Rangers to the Buffalo Bills, the only NFL team to lose four straight Super Bowls. The Rangers, looking very much like newbies, were outclassed by the Giants in their first Series. But with this one, I keep coming back to the ball Cruz should have caught, and how different it all might have been.

Watch: Javier Baez snares a 106-MPH ground ball

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What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.

Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.