St. Louis, MO – The St. Louis Cardinals were 10 1/2 games out of the National League wild card spot in August, Sunday, they celebrated one of the most improbable World Series wins in baseball history.
After squeaking into the postseason party on the last day of the season, St. Louis went on to take down the heavily-favored Philadelphia Phillies in five games in the Division Series, then got past the division-rival Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Championship series in six games.
In the Fall Classic, many of the Cardinals came up with huge performances, including Albert Pujols' three-home run game in Game 3, and who could forget Game 6 as MVP David Freese hit a game-tying two run triple in the bottom of the ninth inning, then he won the game for St.Louis by belting a walkoff solo shot in the bottom of the 11th, seemingly swinging the momentum in the Cards favor heading into Game 7.
In Game 7, Chris Carpenter turned in an excellent performance, going six-plus innings on three days' rest while only giving up a pair of first-inning runs to the very powerful Texas Rangers offense to secure the franchise's 11th World Series title.
"We had so much fun together, these guys are amazing and I will never forget it," Carpenter said.
Baseball experts were skeptical of the Cardinals' trade-deadline moves as they pulled the trigger on a three-team deal that sent outfielder Colby Rasmus to Toronto and received reliever Marc Rzepczynski from the Blue Jays and starter Edwin Jackson from the Chicago White Sox. But the moves paid off as Rzepczynski pitched 8 1/3 innings in the postseason, recorded a win and six holds while striking out nine and walking only one batter.
The parade route began at 8th and Market Streets, went East down Market, right on 7th Street and ended in Busch Stadium.
Thousands of loyal fans lined the streets to watch the procession as Cardinals' Manager Tony La Russa led the parade vehicles, seated with his wife on a buggy pulled by eight of the world-famous Clydesdale horses.
"One of the best feelings we had as a team was to see the people in the organization without a uniform enjoying the fun," La Russa said. If every one of our guys hadn't of contributed, we wouldn't be here. It was really a perfectly blended team. This was very special."
Cardinals players followed with their families in Cardinal-red Ford pickup trucks.
Freese got the biggest cheer from the crowd after he saluted them from his truck en route to Busch Stadium. Once in the stadium, the packed house continued to roar as Freese's highlights were shown on the JumboTron.
He set an MLB record with 21 RBI in this postseason, surpassing the 19 held by Sandy Alomar Jr. (1997), Scott Spiezio (2002) and David Ortiz (2004). Freese finished the World Series with a .348 average and seven RBI in the seven games.
The hometown hero was also presented with a key to the city by St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay.
"I had one dream and that was to be in this position," Freese said. "To win a World Series with the best group of guys, this is amazing.
"You guys are the reason this was possible," Freese said to the fans.