The St. Louis Cardinals were a one-man hitting show for 13 innings on Oct. 11 and Oct. 12. Carlos Beltran made only three big plays for the Cardinals against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NLCS, but they were the three biggest plays of the night/early morning. Of course, such heroics are nothing new for Beltran in October -- yet driving in all the Cardinals’ runs, and throwing out the go-ahead run for the Dodgers in a 3-2 win was new.
Beltran helped get the Cardinals going when they had an early 2-0 deficit in the third. Zack Greinke retired the first eight Cardinals batters while St. Louis starter Joe Kelly struggled, yet Kelly got the ball rolling with a surprise two-out single. Once Matt Carpenter then got on, Beltran hit a long drive to tie the game up at 2-2.
Those would be the last runs scored for 10 straight innings, although the Dodgers and Cardinals both threatened along the way. Los Angeles’s best chance came in the 10’th, when Mark Ellis hit a one-out triple and Hanley Ramirez was intentionally walked. With Adrian Gonzalez lifted for a pinch runner in the eighth, Michael Young came up instead and flew out to Beltran, who then easily gunned Ellis down at home.
Three innings later, Beltran’s bat finished the job for the Cardinals, as he drove the night’s last pitch down the right field line to score Daniel Descalso from second. It increased Beltran’s career postseason average to .345 in 39 games, and gave him his 31’st career playoff RBI.
Even for Beltran, winning Game 1 almost singlehandedly for the Cardinals is a big October feat -- or it will be if St. Louis goes on to win it all. Given that Beltran’s playoff history has everything but a World Series title, that would be an extra boost.
Here is a list of the big showcases Beltran has put on in October, with the Cardinals needing at least a few more in the weeks ahead.