“It’s stupid,” he said, shaking his head. “My buddy sent me the Marcum homer earlier that day and he was like, ‘Get ready!’ And I was like, ‘C’mon, man, that’s not going to happen’ — and I popped one. To do that in the first inning, same stadium, seven years later, same game? Just wild.”
To Freese, the wildest moment of all was not his famous World Series homer, but the triple that made it possible. The Cardinals trailed, 7-5, with two outs, two on and a 1-2 count, when Freese rifled his game-tying hit to right off the hard-throwing rookie Neftali Feliz, whose fastballs helped him focus.
“My mind was on: I’ve never faced Feliz before,” he said, punctuating the thought with an expletive. “How are we going to go about this? Not necessarily what happens if I get out. I think he started off with maybe some off-speed, but on 3-1, he went 98 or 99 low and away and he spun me. I waved right through it.
“My thought process was still, Out, over, hard, stay back if he hangs a slider.’ I just remember: ‘Don’t be late on his heater.’ He threw it in the exact same spot, and that probably helped a little.”
Freese felt such a surge of adrenaline after sliding into third that, looking back, he joked that he probably could have beaten up Yasiel Puig, his brawny Dodgers teammate.
The winning home run — after another tying rally in the 10th inning, on Lance Berkman’s two-out, two-strike single — was almost lucky by comparison.
“The homer was cool because Gary Cederstrom was back there, and the 3-1 was up and he called it a strike,” Freese said, referring to the plate umpire. “I was furious, because I was leading off the inning and you just want to get on base. That call kept me in the box, and I hit the next one out.”
The World Series does not always make sense, and does not always offer second chances. The modern Mr. October is on his third.