Thriving Berkman marvels at Series' drama
Cardinals slugger hitting .435, comes up big in classic Game 6
ST. LOUIS -- Lance Berkman called Thursday's the greatest game he had ever played in. And it would be hard to argue otherwise.
From a personal standpoint, Berkman went 3-for-5 with a two-run homer, drove in three runs and scored four, getting key hit after key hit in the Cardinals' 10-9 victory in Game 6 of the World Series.
Berkman improved his career batting average in the World Series to .417 (15-for-36) with one home run, three doubles, 11 RBIs and seven runs scored. Over the six games of this World Series, Berkman is batting .435 (10-for-23) with a homer and five RBIs.
On top of all that, there was the incredible back-and-forth between the Cardinals and Rangers throughout the game, but especially over the final three innings. And Berkman played a big role -- from Rangers starter Colby Lewis' first pitch, to when David Freese's game-winning home run cleared the center-field fence in the 11th inning.
"What a roller-coaster," Berkman said. "That was awesome."
Prior to that roller-coaster, the Cardinals were having some trouble with Lewis. For the 5 1/3 innings Lewis was in the game, Berkman was the only Cardinals hitter to experience success. Berkman hit the first home run of his World Series career off Lewis in the first inning, adding a single and a run scored in the sixth inning. Those accounted for two of the three total hits Lewis would give up.
And when the Cardinals rallied late in the game, Berkman was right in the middle of it.
Berkman drew a one-out walk in the ninth, setting up Freese to tie the game with a two-run triple two batters later.
In the 10th, Berkman came to the plate after Albert Pujols was intentionally walked to put the potential go-ahead run on first base. With two on and two out, the Cardinals needed a run to keep the game going, and two to win.
Down to his final strike, Berkman hit a 2-2 fastball to center field for a game-tying single, scoring Jon Jay from third and extending the game.
"We've done this all year," Jay said. "It's been crazy."
Even at that point, Berkman had helped the Cardinals do something never before seen in the World Series. No team had rallied from both a ninth-inning deficit and an extra-inning deficit before.
"It would only be a great game if we ended up winning it," Berkman said.
They did end up winning in the 11th, on a walk-off home run by Freese.
With that, this ranked at the top of the list for Berkman, who has played in more than 1,800 games over the course of his career, including 51 in the postseason.
And Berkman has never seen anything quite like it. One of the only games that even came close was Game 4 of the National League Division Series in 2005, when Chris Burke -- who pinch-ran for Berkman in the 10th inning -- hit a walk-off homer in the bottom of the 18th to beat the Braves, 7-6, and win the series for the Astros.
"I've been a part of some pretty special postseason games, on both ends," Berkman said.
"That 18-inning marathon we played against the Braves in the NLDS, we were down in that game by [five runs] and came all the way back, tied it, played 18 innings. ... But this is the World Series, it was an elimination game, we were down to our last strike twice -- I think that's the only time that's ever happened in the history of the game."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.