Big League Stew

Five important moments that helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the NLCS

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(Yahoo Sports)

The St. Louis Cardinals topped the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games to advance to their 19th World Series. The series featured a little bit of everything, including some Mickey Mouse activity, a bizarre pregame standoff between Joe Kelly and Scott Van Slyke in Game 6 and an injury that probably changed the course of the series.

The on-field play was fun, too, if not a little reckless at times. But it was the Cardinals who made more plays and created more moments en route to the fall classic.

Here are the five most important moments from the series.

1. Carlos Beltran's game-saving assist in Game 1
There are postseason legends, and then there are guys like Carlos Beltran, who somehow perform on a level higher than legendary when it matters most. His postseason impact was felt again in the NLCS, particularly in the Cardinals 3-2, 13-inning victory in Game 1. Beltran was basically a one-man wrecking crew, and in the 10th provided arguably the biggest moment in the entire series when he threw out Mark Ellis at the plate as the go-ahead run.

And it wasn't just the throw, though that was incredible. It was the way he took charge of the play, calling off center fielder Jon Jay because he knew he had a better shot to make the throw. It was a postseason moment they won't soon forget in St. Louis.

2. Carlos Beltran's walk-off hit in Game 1
Beltran further cemented his legacy three innings later with a walk-off single off Kenley Jansen. It was an expert at-bat, too. Jansen had just entered with manager Don Mattingly hoping to kill the rally, and Beltran just calmly waited as the Dodgers closer attempted to find the strike zone. Then, on the 3-1 pitch, he turned on a fastball and ripped it into the corner. A simple approach coupled with a good swing to complete a three-RBI game. It was Beltran's world on that night, and the Dodgers were unfortunate to be living in it

3. Matt Holliday goes deeeeeeeeeeeep in L.A.
After the Dodgers won Game 3 when the series moved back to L.A., Game 4 was going to be an important one. The Dodgers, if they could muster another win at home, could tie the series. St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday made it known early in the game that he wasn't a fan of that idea. He came up in the third inning and smashed a homer off Ricky Nolasco. Holliday was hitless in the series before that moment, and his two-run blast was crucial to the Cardinals' 4-2 victory.

4. Michael Wacha strikes out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe with the bases loaded in Game 2
It was a collection of big moments that made rookie right-hander Michael Wacha the NLCS MVP, but none were bigger than the sixth inning of Game 2. The Dodgers loaded the bases against Wacha with one out, but the young man showed tremendous poise and a degree of fearlessness in striking out both Puig and Uribe to end the inning. It wasn't the Dodgers last chance, but it was by far their best in a game that ended 1-0.

5. Matt Carpenter's 11-pitch at-bat against Clayton Kershaw in Game 6
A pitcher's duel seemed set in stone until Carpenter kept spoiling Kershaw's best two-strike offerings in the third inning. Eventually, he wore the soon-to-be Cy Young down and pulled a double into the corner, setting off a four-run rally that required 48 pitches to escape. It was game, set and match at that point, but there's no telling how different the inning and the game would have played out had Kershaw disposed of Carpenter quickly and got back to the dugout in say, 15-18 pitches.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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