Just as they’ve done all season long, the Cardinals got the job done with the season on the line and earned the right to play another day. Why am I not surprised? The Cards pulled off a 5-3 victory in game four to force a decisive game five as the NLDS shifts from St. Louis back to Philadelphia. It looks like Tony La Russa will get his dream matchup after all.
Edwin Jackson got off to a shaky start in game four, allowing a double, triple, and single to the first three batters he faced. However, one of the keys to the game was the Cards’ ability to bounce back immediately. Lance Berkman doubled home Skip Schumaker in the bottom of the first to cut the Phillies two run lead in half. From there, Jackson settled in quite nicely to go six innings while giving up just five hits and two runs to collect a win in his first postseason start.
Trailing and on the brink of elimination after three innings, St. Louis needed someone to step up. This time, it was hometown hero David Freese who did just that. Freese came up large with a two-run double in the bottom of the fourth, giving St. Louis the lead for good. He was hardly finished, though. Freese came back up to the plate in the sixth and delivered and two-run home run to deep center field, providing some insurance for the Cardinal bullpen. He had gone just 1-5 with three strikeouts in game three, but a four RBI game four erased those memories for Freese.
Rhodes, Dotel, Salas, and Rzepczynski combined to allow just two hits and one run over the seventh and eighth innings, and Jason Motte sealed the deal with a perfect ninth. In his return to the starting lineup, Matt Holliday singled and scored two runs. Albert Pujols was hitless in four at-bats, but his defensive play to throw out Utley at third base in the sixth was nothing short of spectacular.
I think I had, what, 20 strikeouts so far this series? I mean, you go up against pitchers like this, you might have bad nights, but that’s the beauty of this game. Ever since I got traded over from San Diego, I always just thought about the postseason, the playoffs and being a Cardinal in the postseason. That’s what this is all about. This is what you worked for, and just to do this in front of the fans of St. Louis and a bunch of friends and family, it’s amazing.
Our attitude has been that we have a good team, we’re going to go out there and play and see what happens, as hard as we can, and if it’s good enough, great. And if not, we’ve got nothing to hang our heads about. I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of the way we’ve fought. No matter what happens on Friday night, we’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. We’re not looking at this like we’re just happy to be here and it’s David and Goliath.
Berkman makes a good point. Although the Phillies were the clear favorites to win this series, the Cards have proven that they can hang right with baseball’s best team. Of course it’s great that this team has even made it this far, but know that they have proven to the world that they belong, it’s time to go out and take this series while it’s up for grabs.
This is the 13th straight time that the Cards leave St. Louis with a happy flight after a win. Despite every indication that the Cardinals’ run will soon come to an end, this team just keeps on winning. It’s truly remarkable. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realize it, but the St. Louis Cardinals are for real.