Cards' Beltran gets long-awaited shot at World Series

Wed Oct 23, 2013 2:05pm EDT
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By Julian Linden

BOSTON (Reuters) - Carlos Beltran has always saved his best for last. In the postseason, when the pressure of Major League Baseball (MLB) is at its most suffocating, the slugger has proven himself one of the great clutch performers.

His postseason on-base percentage and slugging average is seventh in MLB history, but his individual efforts have not materialized in a title.

Until this season, his 16th in MLB, he had never even made it to the World Series. But now he is off to his first Fall Classic, as an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Boston Red Sox.

"I'm very fortunate to be in this position," Beltran told reporters after the Cardinals clinched their place by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. "It's a great feeling to be able to come through and to be able to have this opportunity."

For Beltran, it has been a long and agonizing wait since he moved from his birthplace of Puerto Rico and made his MLB debut for the Kansas City Royals late in the 1998 season and earning NL rookie of the year honors in 1999.

Before this season, Beltran had been one win away from a World Series berth six times but lost them all. Each time, the Cardinals were involved.

In 2004, when he was playing for Houston, the Astros led the Cardinals three games to two, but could not close it out and St. Louis went to the World Series.

In 2006, Beltran was playing for the New York Mets. In Game Seven, the Cardinals won, with Beltran striking out looking in the final pitch of the series.   Continued...

Boston, MA, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran during practice the day before game one of the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports