Daniel Descalso was not a big name player before last night, like David Freese or Yadier Molina, but he made his name last night’s 9-7 win of Game 5 of the NLDS against the Washington Nationals. After scoring four runs in the top of the 9th inning, the Cardinals regained control of the game and were able to pull off the win and move on to the NLCS to play a high powered San Francisco Giants team.
The Cardinals didn’t even look nervous in their sixth consecutive winner-take-all series, an MLB
record, as they were down to their last strike twice in a 5-7 game in the top of the 9th inning, before Nationals closer pitcher Drew Storen before he walked Yadier Molina and David Freese. Descalso steps up to bat next, and singles it out to center field, allowing Carlos Beltran and Adron Chambers to run in and score, tying up the game at 7-7. Small rookie Pete Kozma, who was referenced by Nationals manager Davey Johnson as “Cosmos” before Game 4, then send the ball out to right field for a single and allowing Freese and Descalso to run in and score, giving the Cardinals a 9-7 edge in the top of the 9th.
St. Louis closer pitcher Jason Motte takes the mound in the bottom of the 9th, and closes out the show with about 30 minutes left before midnight, and the Cardinals come out of the dugout for a quick celebration, as they already know the feeling of winning a winner-take-all series as defending World Series Champions.
First year MLB manager Mike Matheny, in his first postseason as an MLB manager, knew that his team would pull out a win tonight, and was humble about that with the press.
"It's just the kind of people they are. They believe in themselves. They believe in each other," Matheny said. "It's been this style of team all season long. They just don't quit, and I think that just says a lot about their character."
The Nationals, who led the majors with 98 wins on the year, had as good of a start to the game they could ask for, with three runs in the first seven pitches. (Werth double, Harper triple, and Zimmerman’s homerun)
Johnson, in a postgame interview, reflected on how the Nationals played this year, after winning the NL East and reaching the postseason for the first time since FDR was in office.
"We've had a great year overcoming a lot of hardship," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said, "and to not go after them at the end was not fun to watch."
The Nationals end their season as one of their best in recent memory, with a 98-64 record. The Cardinals move on to the NLCS to play the San Francisco Giants this Sunday at 8 p.m.
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