Wow. A great game gone absolutely terrible that produced one of the defining moments of October baseball in St. Louis. The scenario: Houston leads the NLCS 3-1 over our beloved Redbirds. We carry a slim 2-1 lead into the seventh when an error, a single and a Berkman poke into those goddamn Crawford boxes in short left at Enron (I will NOT call it Minute Maid) Field makes it 4-2 Astros.
Cue Brad Lidge. Cue curtains.
In the top of the 9th, with the Fox broadcasting crew waxing poetic about the Astros and how all of their great teams never made it to the World Series, rookie John Rodriguez comes to the plate. Strikeout. Last night’s goat (but all around great guy and team player) John Mabry comes to the dish. Strikeout.
Next victim: little David Eckstein.
With a 1-2 count, the man who has been the butt of “looks like a twelve year old” and “listed generously in the media guide as 5 foot 7” jokes from “Psycho” Steve Lyons all series pulls a sharp grounder through the left side.
Next up: Jimmy Baseball.
Edmonds, a 1 for 13 career hitter against Lidge walks on five pitches (none of which were in the strikezone).
Runners on first and second. The go-ahead run is Albert Pujols.
Now I’m excited.
Albert (thus far 0-4 in this potential elimination game) whiffs badly at the first slider from Lidge. Crisp, sharp and diving into the dirt, that pitch made a fool of the MVP. The next slider was neither crisp nor sharp.
Albert Pujols, the face of this franchise, a god among men, was not happy going 0-4 up to now. I can’t imagine a scenario in which he could live with himself going 0-5 in an elimination game. Fortuanately, that ugly scenario will not play out tonight, as Albert turned on Lidge’s floating slider and sent it on the fast train out of Enron. Landing above the train tracks (yes, their ridiculous stadium has freaking train tracks) Albert’s blast was so formidable that Psycho was forced to draw a comparison between Pujols bomb and Berkman’s looping liner to left. Let’s just say that Berkman’s “home run” did not compare favorably.
After such a display of awesomeness, Isringhausen came on for a second inning of relief and got a painless 1-2-3 inning (Ed – has that sentence been typed once this year?) to complete a miraculous come from behind victory for our boys in red. Call off the wrecking ball, Busch Stadium has at least one more night on the town. At least one more time for the magic to be made. At least one more time for the best fans in baseball to pay homage to their heroes.