* Cardinals Win NLCS Game 5 And Lead Series 2 Games To 3

Mark my words. It will be a White Sox and the Cardinals in the World Series.

I watched the NLCS Game 5 last night, which was another sloppy game (3 errors). The Astros, not known for their late inning comebacks, managed to score three runs in the 8th inning to take a 4-2 lead. Then, with Brad Lidge on the mound and two strikeouts in the bag, the Astros were one out away from going to the World Series for the first time. It would be the first World Series ever for the state of Texas.

Then they were one strike away. This is why I love baseball. Two strikes in an at-bat doesn’t count. Two outs in an inning doesn’t count. 26 outs in a game doesn’t count. The only thing that counts is the final score when the game is done. Baseball is the most democratic sport on the planet.

As if there was any doubt about it, David Eckstein showed he has the Right Stuff by singling on a 1-2 count to keep the 9th inning – and the hopes of the Cardinals – alive. Jim Edmonds then somehow managed to hold back swings to work a walk. Then up come Albert Pujols, the second-best right handed hitter in the game (after Manny). (Why second best? Look at Pujols. He is a back and/or a leg injury waiting to happen. He could stand to lose about 50 pounds.) On an 0-1 count, Lidge hung a slider. As soon as Pujols hit it, I yelled, “Oh, he LOST it!” Meaning lost about 500 feet out of whatever Houston’s park is called. A no-doubter monster homer.

It brought me back to 1986, game 5 of the ALCS, Red Sox vs. Angels, when David “Hendu” Henderson lost one to keep the Red Sox in the series. I started showing that reply to my kids as soon as they were old enough to sit up straight.

In 1986, games 6 and 7 were an afterthought. It was The Year for the Sox.

But when you live by the sword (or the one-strike-away miracle), you die by the sword (1986 World Series game 6).

Last night’s game was a good game, but it was not a great game. Too many errors. No great defense. No great base running. It was basically a boring game until the 8th inning. I’m sure that Astros and Cardinals fans will remember the game for a long time, but it should not ever be on ESPN Classic.

Mark my words. The Astros will not be able to recover from this. The cardinals will go to the World Series. And lose to the White Sox in five games.

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