Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Amazing tale a step from completion

Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina embrace after the wild-card Cardinals clinched the NL pennant Sunday.

Getty Images

Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina embrace after the wild-card Cardinals clinched the NL pennant Sunday.

MILWAUKEE — Left behind in the postseason race, the Cardinals decided they'd focus on small goals in September. Now, the ultimate one is within reach.

St. Louis' wild ride is headed to the World Series.

"It's kind of surreal that we're here," said third baseman David Freese, who took MVP honors in the NL Championship Series. "But this team deserves what we've been rewarded."

Freese hit a three-run homer in the first inning and manager Tony La Russa again turned to his bullpen for seven sturdy innings as St. Louis captured its 18th pennant with a 12-6 victory over the Brewers late Sunday.

"For two weeks in August, we started mugging games left and right and we had to say, hey, look, unless we go about this better, we're going to ruin everything we accomplished as far as respect," La Russa said. "And we started winning a little bit. And literally played every game like it was the last game of our life."

Trailing by 10½ games in the wild-card race Aug. 25, the Cardinals surged down the stretch and took advantage of the Braves' monumental collapse to win a playoff spot on the final night of the regular season.

Once in the postseason, Albert Pujols and the Cardinals took out the heavily favored Phillies then dispatched the division rival Brewers on their own turf in Game 6.

"I mean, you could have never known," Pujols said.

It has been such a frenetic run, it seems fitting that a squirrel has become the team's unofficial mascot.

The rally squirrel started in the NL Division Series when the rodent scampered across home plate during Game 4. Another squirrel was on the field before Game 5 when Chris Carpenter shut out the Phillies.

Reliever Octavio Dotel carries a small, stuffed squirrel with him after a Philadelphia fan tossed it to him in jest.

"I lay in my bed thinking, 'Wow, we are in this position,' " Dotel said. "It's crazy to be where we are right now."

Amazing tale a step from completion 10/17/11 [Last modified: Monday, October 17, 2011 11:01pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick and Tom podcast: Bucs' Gerald McCoy frustrated with disrespectful fans

    Bucs

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones discuss Gerald McCoy's latest comments on disrespectful fans who attack his teammates, Donald Trump, protests by DeSean Jackson and Mike Evans, and his respect for the …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Gerald McCoy (93) warms up before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  2. NFL owners' unity with players might be short-lived

    Bucs

    The image was striking — several owners of NFL teams locking arms with their players on the sidelines Sunday, and the Cowboys' Jerry Jones on Monday night, in a dramatic statement of defiance to a president who ridiculed their sport and condemned players for refusing to stand during the national anthem as a …

    Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, currently without a team, has cited racial injustice and police brutality among the reasons for not standing during the national anthem. [Associated Press]
  3. Anthem protest, the latest: Jerry Jones joins Cowboys on field in show of solidarity

    Bucs

    As President Donald Trump continued tweeting Monday about his displeasure with NFL players for staging demonstrations during the national anthem, the Cowboys took a knee on the field just before the anthem was performed on Monday Night Football. Dallas players were joined by owner Jerry Jones, and they quickly …

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, center, joins the team in taking a knee before the national anthem Monday night. They stood and linked arms for the anthem.
  4. Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says players who kneel have team's support

    Sports

    TAMPA — Receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson were the only Bucs players kneeling during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Vikings, but DT Gerald McCoy said the team supports their protest "100 percent."

    Bucs tight end Cameron Brate pulls in a touchdown catch as Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (34) hits him in the back of the head.
  5. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)