Jon Jay

October 28, 2011 – World Series Game 7

The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Texas Rangers to claim their 11th World Championship on this date in 2011. Game 6 is the one burned into everyone’s memory, but that game wouldn’t have met anything had they not won game 7.

Games 1 and 2 were tight pitchers’ duels which the two teams split. Albert Pujols hit 3 home runs in game 3 to lead the Cardinals to a blowout win. After scoring 16 runs in game 3, Cardinals were shutout in game 4 behind 8 1/3 shutout innings from Derek “Dutch Stache” Holland. The Rangers again held the Cardinals’ offense in check to win game 5 by a score of 4-2, which set up game 6.

Game 6 is probably the most mind-numbing game in a season full of mind-numbing games. I watched it at my Dad’s house. I will never forget David Freese’s triple to tie the game in the 9th inning, which is probably the most electric Cardinals moment in my lifetime. I also remember Jon Jay’s key hit in extra innings, and scoring the tying run because he was one of my favorite players. Lance Berkman of course drove him in with two strikes. Freese’s home run in the 11th inning is still somewhat surreal when I see it.

A critical and probably underrated hit in that game was when Allen Craig homered off of Derek Holland in the bottom of the 8th inning. If Holland had shut out the Cardinals that inning, he may have pitched the 9th inning. He was the one pitcher who had shut down the Cardinals all series, except for this one inning. Instead of a 3 inning save for a championship, Neftali Feliz pitched the 9th inning and the rest is history.

All of that was game 6 though. This post is about game 7. My Dad had put his name into the lottery to buty tickets from the Cardinals before the World Series started. He was selected to buy tickets for game 7. The strangest thing was not knowing if there was even going to be a game 7 until nearly midnight the night before. After celebrating Freese’s home run, I remember telling my dad, “Well, I guess I better go pack!”

I took Friday afternoon off from work, and we drove down Friday afternoon. We stopped in Hannibal on the way down, and there were other Cardinals fans stopped at the same gas station, heading for the same destination. We got to the game about an hour before it was supposed to start. Sitting around us were families from all over the Midwest. There were a couple Rangers fans sitting in front of us. They were very cool, and everyone was great to them as well. People just talked baseball with them.

I was nervous that Chris Carpenter pitching on 3-days rest was not a good idea. The fears seem justified early on, when the Rangers scored 2 runs on back-to-back doubles by Josh Hamilton and Michael Young. The Cardinals immediately got the two runs back in the bottom of the first on a double by David Freese, that guy again. I remember the girl sitting behind us saying that the Cardinals were wearing the Rangers down with these constant comebacks. If that was true, I can’t blame them. It would take enormous mental strength not to get worn down by it.

The Cardinals added to the lead in the third inning on another solo home run by Allen Craig. In the bottom of the fifth inning, perhaps the mental fatigue started to set in for the Rangers. Scott Feldman came into the game in relief and walked Criag an hit Pujols with a pitch. The runners advanced on a groundout. Freese was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Yadier Molina then drew a walk to score a run, and then Rafael Furcal was hit by a pitch to score another run. The Cardinals had a 3-run lead and the mood in the stadium was giddy.

Maybe the most surreal moment I’ve ever seen at a game was in the top of the 6th inning. Nelson Cruz came up with one out and hit a towering fly ball to left field. The crowd went silent for a few moments as the ball sailed toward the left field wall. We were sitting in the upper deck in left field, and the left field wall was the one blind spot for us of the field. The ball disappeared from our view, and I had assumed it was a home run. I remember thinking “Here we go again”, with the way all of the games had been so back and forth. Then suddenly all the other sections in the stadium roared. No one in our section cheered, we were all just kind of dumbfounded. Then they replayed the catch on the video board and then our section cheered.

In the seventh inning, the two Rangers fans sitting in front of us left. People congratulated them on a great season, but I would not be confident until the final out was recorded. Things got a little less tense as Molina drove in another run to make it a 6-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Lance Lynn redeemed himself with a scoreless eighth inning, and Jason Motte threw a scoreless ninth to win the game.

We stayed in our seats to watch the trphy presentation and interviews. Once that was all done we headed out of the ballpark. I was high-fived by 100 random strangers. It was the wildest thing I’ve ever seen, hundreds of people all high-fiving each other and all seemed so releived and excited. It took us forever to get out of downtown. Everyone was honking and yelling. I think we got back to the hotel at like 2AM.

Of course, I will always be a Cardinals fan, but the 2011 season and getting to see them win the World Series in person will probably never be topped. Anything they win after this will be gravy.

One weird, random observation. The tickets for the World Series each featured a picture of a generic player. Games 1 and 3 were of a pitcher. Games 2 and 4 were of a hitter. Games 5 and 6 were of a fielder starting to track a fly ball. Game 7 was of a fielder reaching up to catch a ball. The picture for game 7 is in the same exact pose as Allen Craig when he robbed that home run. Concidence? Skip Schumaker said of the championship, “It was destiny, there is no other way to explain it.

2011-world-series-tickets

Allen Craig robs Nelson Cruz of a home run - Photo credit: Doug Pensinger Getty Images

Photo credit: Doug Pensinger

Here are the rest of the pictures I took from before, during and after the game:

Jon Jay catches a deep fly ball in game 6 vs the Brewers

October 16, 2011 – Cards close out Brewers

The St. Louis Cardinals faced off against their division rivals the Milwaukee Brewers. The rivalry had been simmering all season. It may have peaked back on August 2, when the Cardinals won a wild game involving controversy and ejections. After that, it seemed the two agreed to let their play settle things. This would be the final showdown.

Both teams were coming off of emotional 5-game series from the NLDS round. The Cardinals won a pitching duel for the ages 1-0. The Brewers had defeated the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 10 innings in game 5. They actually had blown a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth. They finally rallied in the 10th to win it. The game-winning hit was by Nyjer “Beast Mode” Morgan.

The Brewers won game one of the NLCS 9-6. The Cardinals actually led this game 5-2 at one point before the Brewers rallied for 6 runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Rafael Betancourt all homered for the Brewers.

The Cardinals evened the series 1-1 with a 12-3 blowout. Seven different Cardinals pitchers combined to only allow 3 runs in the game. Jon Jay had 3 hits, and Albert Pujols had 4 including a home run. Yadier Molina, David Freese and Nick Punto each had 2 hits.

The Cardinals took game 3 in a much tigher game. They scored 4 runs in the bottom of the first, and that was it. The Brewers got two runs back in the second and one more in the third, but were shut out the rest of the game for a 4-3 Cardinals win.

The Brewers evened the series 2-2 with a 4-2 win in game 4. The Cardinals lead the game 2-0 early before the Brewers chipped away and got ahead. Randy Wolf threw 7 innings for the Brewers allowing the 2 runs on solo home runs by Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.

The Cardinals won game 5 by a 7-1 score. Jaime Garcia only pitched 4 2/3 innings but only allowed the one run. The bullpen was perfect. The offense was provided by Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina who each had 3 hits. The Cardinals were one win from the World Series but would have to win it on the road.

Game 6 was a slugfest that the Cardinals won 12-6. Each team hit three home runs. The Cardinals built a big lead early, building a 9-4 lead by the third inning. The biggest blow was probably David Freese’s 3-run home run in the first inning. Freese had 3 hits, and Molina, Pujols and Holliday each had 2 hits. The win was punctuated by Jon Jay’s jumping catch at the center field wall in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The National League had won the All Star Game, so they were heading back to St. Louis for game 1 of the World Series.

AP Photo/Mel Evans

October 2, 2011: Cards come back to win game 2 vs Phillies

The St. Louis Cardinals lost game one of the National League Division Series to the Phillies 11-6. The Phillies had a chance to push them to the brink of elimination in game two.

They got off to a good start by taking a 4-0 lead after two innings. Chris Carpenter was starting on short rest and it looked like a bad decision by Tony La Russa. He pulled Carpenter after three innings. The Cardinals’ bullpen came up big, throwing six shutout innings the rest of the game.

The Cardinals rallied for three runs in the top of the 4th inning to get back into the game. Lance Berkman led off with a walk. With one out, Yadier Molina singled. Ryan Theriot doubled in a run, and then Jon Jay singled in one more. Rafael Furcal singled in the third run and Jon Jay was thrown out at home trying to tie the game. Jay went in hard trying to dislodge the ball but Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz held on for the out.

The Cardinals finally did tie the game in the top of the sixth on a double by Theriot and a single by Jay. They took the lead in the sevethn on an Allen Craig triple, and a single by Albert Pujols. Jason Motte retired the Phillies in order in the bottom of the ninth to earn the save. The series was tied 1-1.

Box Score

Video Highlights

Low A Jon Jay

Jon Jay

Photo credit: Paul Gierhart/MiLB.com

One of my favorite Cardinals from recent years is Jon Jay. He played 60 games for the Swing of the Quad Cities in 2006 after getting drafted in the 4th round that year. He ended up with great stats, hitting .342 with a .416 OBP, and an OPS of .877. He played in 3 different games that I attended.

I saw him first on July 27. He played left field, while his teammate Shane Robinson played center field. Jay went 0 for 3 with a walk that day, batting 3rd. Robinson went 0 for 3 with a run and a stolen base. The Swing lost that day 4-2 to the West Michigan Whitecaps. Pretty uneventful game.

Jon Jay

Photo credit: Paul Gierhart/MiLB.com

It’s too bad I had not been at the game a couple days earlier. The Swing crushed the SW Michigan Devil Rays 13-1, and 11 of the runs were scored in 1 inning. Jay went 5 for 6 with 2 RBI and 3 runs in that game. You can read the game recap here and check out the box score here.

On August 31 the Swing played the Kane County Cougars. Jay went 2 for 3 with a double and 2 walks. Teammate Jason Motte took the loss in this game, going 1 2/3 innings 4 runs, 3 earned.

September 6 was the last game that I saw that featured Jay. He went 2 for 4 with two singles and a stolen base. Shane Robinson was back in center. He led off and went 1 for 3. The Swing lost again, this time 2-0.

Here is another article that mentions Jay, written in the offseason after the 2006 season. It talks about how much of the Cardinals’ talent was homegrown, coming off the 2006 World Series win. Little did they know…

Jon Jay

Photo Credit: Quad City Times