The matchup most of the media wanted when the MLB playoff teams were finalized has come to fruition. It is not every year that the two best teams record-wise reach the World Series. However, that is the case in 2013. There are now just two former KC Royals players still playing.
One of those is St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran, who was probably the second choice for National League Championship Series MVP honors. Beltran is headed to his first World Series at the ripe old age of 36, as he helped carry the Cardinals offensively and defensively to the 3-2 series victory over the LA Dodgers in the NLCS. Without him, the Cardinals may have been beginning their offseason.
It actually started in the Division Series against Pittsburgh, where he hit two big home runs. Though he went 0-for-6 to finish out the NLDS, he heated up in Game 1 of the LCS against the Dodgers and former teammate Zack Greinke. In the third, he delivered a two out, two-run double to tie the game. The game would stay tied until the 13th inning when the Cardinals walked off on his RBI single. Oh and he threw a runner out at the plate in the tenth.
Beltran would not collect a hit over the next three games (0-for-8), but he walked four times. He got back in the hit column in Game 5 in LA with an RBI triple in the third. He would then score a run (he also walked). Unfortunately, the Cardinals could not beat Greinke.
In Game 6, the clincher, he went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs, and a run scored. All of those at-bats came from the right side of the plate (he had been lighting it up from the left side). Beltran also made a great diving catch in right field.
Over the NLCS, Beltran went 6-for-21. His double in Game 6 was his 30th career postseason extra base hit, which is third in NL history. He has 12 RBIs this postseason, which leads all hitters.
Beltran and his previous teams were one win away from going to the World Series in previous seasons and had lost seven times. He was considered the greatest postseason hitter to never reach the Fall Classic. The curse is finally broken.
Three former Royals were eliminated with the Dodgers on Friday night. I mentioned Greinke earlier and he made two starts in the NLCS. He started the 13-inning affair in Game 1 and allowed two runs on four hits (two were to Yadier Molina) and a walk over eight innings. He struck out a season-high ten batters. In the win or go home Game 5, Greinke picked up the win.
It did not start out well for him, as the Cardinals loaded the bases with nobody out in the first. He escaped without allowing a run. He helped give the Dodgers the lead with his bat, as he delivered an RBI single in the second to give LA the 2-0 lead. In seven innings, Greinke allowed two runs on six hits and a walk. He struck out four, as he threw 63 of his 104 pitches for strikes.
Second baseman Mark Ellis started every game of the postseason and batted second in the Dodgers order. He struck out swinging against Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal in Game 6 to end the game and set off the celebration.
Ellis went 2-for-5 in Game 1, but was thrown out at the plate to end the tenth (by Beltran) after tripling. In Game 2, he went 1-for-4 with a stolen base, but popped up with runners at second and third base and nobody out in the sixth (with LA trailing 1-0). In Game 3, he went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, but went 0-for-4 in Game 4. After going 1-for-4 in Game 5, he went 0-for-4 in the final game of the series.
Overall, Ellis went 6-for-25.
Lefty JP Howell made four appearances in the LCS after pitching the final three games in the NLDS against Atlanta. He was a little wild in his final three appearances. With Game 1 tied at 2-2, Howell entered in relief in the 11th inning and gave up one hit in his inning of work (15 pitches, eight strikes). He needed 20 pitches (ten strikes) to get through the 8th inning of Game 2.
Howell struck out three in his one inning of work in Game 4, but walked one and allowed two hits, including a pinch-hit home run. In the Cardinals clincher, he entered with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, but all three runs scored.
Overall in the NLCS, Howell allowed one run on four hits and two walks over 4.2 innings. He struck out three.
On Saturday night, Boston beat Detroit, also in six games in the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox have one former Royal, outfielder Quintin Berry. He made the team mainly as a pinch runner and did that just once. He pinch ran in the 9th inning of Game 1 with one out and the Red Sox trailing 1-0. Berry ran for Daniel Nava, who had just collected the team’s first and only hit. Berry stole second base but was left stranded.
The Tigers also had one former Royal, backup catcher Brayan Pena. He only made one appearance in the entire postseason and that came in Game 5 of the ALCS, as starter Alex Avila was injured on a collision at the plate (though he held on to the ball to record the out). Pena grounded into a double play in his first plate appearance in the fourth, but drove in a run with a single later in the game (though the Tigers’ comeback fell short).
The 2013 World Series begins on Wednesday at 7:30pm ET in Boston on FOX.