What’s your greatest memory from a series your team lost?

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A friend reminded me that today is the 15th anniversary of Derek Jeter becoming “Mr. November.” That was in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series — which started on October 31 but ended after midnight, on November 1 — when Jeter hit his famous walkoff home run in the 10th inning.

Because I’m a jerk sometimes I remind him that the Yankees actually lost that series. I likewise remind Red Sox fans who talk about Carlton Fisk’s homer in the 1975 Series that Boston lost that series. Of course my friend and those Sox fans know this, but there is a tendency among Yankees and Sox fans to talk-up those events in ways that almost makes it seem like they’ve momentarily forgotten or that they want you to, so it’s fun to mess with them when they do.

In all sincerity, though, those were great moments. A lot of fans have “greatest moments in a losing cause” memories, actually. In some ways the defeat which follows makes those memories resonate even more because, at the time, you had to try to reconcile those disparate feelings. You had to find a way to be happy that a moment happened and to not let the ultimate loss sully it too terribly much. If you could.

For me, it’s probably Andruw Jones’ two homers in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series. It was the national coming out party of a superstar and a ton of fun to boot. Unfortunately for Braves fans 1996 was more properly the coming out party of the Yankees Dynasty. A Mark Wohlers slider and a Jim Leyritz homer was not far in the future, and those made most people forget about what Jones did in Game 1. But I remember it fondly. A lot of Braves fans do.

Older Cardinals fans have Bob Gibson’s 17-strikeout performance in Game 1 of the 1968 World Series to chew on. It was the most dominant World Series start ever. It was also a reminder that one pitcher cannot win you a World Series, as the Tigers won it in seven.

There are a lot of others. Barry Bonds’ homers and overall dominance in 2002. Josh Hamilton‘s home run — which he said God told him he’d hit — in Game 6 of 2011. Curt Schilling’s shutout in the 1993 Series. I’m sure there are a ton I’m forgetting.

Which now makes me think of tonight’s Game 6 and, if necessary, tomorrow’s Game 7. It makes me wonder what the most dramatic/traumatic ending of this Series would be for each team and its fans. They probably almost have to include some signature-moment-in-a-losing cause to truly sting. Off the top of my head, I got this:

Worst case for Chicago: A Carlton Fisk-style homer tonight — can’t be a walkoff because they’re on the road, but close enough — most likely by Kyle Schwarber. Joe Buck gets such a case of the vapors over it all that Smoltz has to call the bottom of the ninth and no one remembers to say “And we’ll see you . . . Tomorrow night!” In Game 7, Corey Kluber is dominant, the Cubs get three-hit and score no runs. Alternatively, there’s a second Bartman moment involving a Cubs fan in the Indians stands and/or a goat runs out on the field, injuring Kyle Hendricks in the first inning, leading to a bullpen game the Cubs lose badly.

Worst case for Cleveland: A loss tonight, obviously, followed by the Indians building a large lead in the late innings tomorrow, centered on Francisco Lindor doing something amazing like hitting for the cycle or something. The crowd is ecstatic and, out of an abundance of caution, Terry Francona calls on Andrew Miller to close it out. The Cubs mount a John Elway-style rally against Miller, knocking both him and the overall “Indians Bullpen” narrative out of the series. An Earnest Byner-style error by the Indians allows the Cubs to score the go-ahead run.

Oh well, enjoy Game 6, everyone. And Game 7 if we need it. And remember: baseball moments are often complicated.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.


Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”


The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.


Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.


Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.


Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.