Carlos Beltran. (USA TODAY Sports)
By Corey Noles for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- Baseball blah blah. October blah blah. Carlos Beltran-yeah, you already know this story. When the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers met up at Busch Stadium Friday night, I expected a tight game, but not 4 hours and 47 minutes tight.
Carlos Beltran was no surprise. That's just what he does.
Beltran didn't slump in September, he was storing up extra heroics.
I've watched some great games in my career and in my life as a baseball fan, but I can't recall watching two back-to-back games as good as the final game of the NLCS and the first of the NLCS.
Beltran had everything to do with it. He drove in all three runs and made a key defensive play in the 10th inning to save a run at the plate.
I won't bore you with Beltran career postseason numbers because you already know them. What I want to talk about is his mature approach to the game.
There are a lot of things you'll see from Beltran during the course of any baseball game-clutch hitting for power and average, solid fielding and veteran leadership. It's the stuff you don't see on the field or on television that make him a winner.
Beltran has an uncanny ability to make everything he does look effortless. He's a leader, both on the field and in the clubhouse.
In a recent interview, manager Mike Matheny was asked about Beltran and the comment was made that he was quiet. Matheny smiled and laughed before explaining that Beltran is quite the teacher.
"I think he's quiet to you guys," Matheny said in an Oct. 3 press conference following the Cardinals 9-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the NLDS. "But, there are days we have to change our meetings because he's in holding class and we can't stop him. He gets going and he's starting to teach some of the young players and 45 minutes later, they're still sitting there."
Matheny said that is one of the many ways he has helped to grow this team into what it is today.
His teammates also had kind words to say about Beltran after Friday night's (Saturday morning's?) game but none of those words were surprise.
Catcher and friend Yadier Molina explained that what happened Friday night is just how Beltran goes about his game.
"He's a good friend and a good teammate," Molina said. "Right now he's amazing. I'm so glad to be a part of that."
That effect is on everyone, not just the young guys.
John Axford, who is still rather new to the team, said Beltran's ability is nothing new to him. "He's unbelievable," Axford said early Saturday morning. "What an incredible hitter-he did everything for us tonight. He's the reason we won this game."
To have repeated success in the postseason is something more special than many people realize. That's why you hear Beltran's name mentioned alongside Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson.
Beltran says keeping focus is the key to everything for him. Letting yourself focus on the stage instead of the play isn't how winners play ball-no matter how hard that might be.
"Well, for me, it's just I try not to keep up with the numbers, because when you try to keep up with the numbers, you could get caught out there trying to do a lot of bad things and trying to look for homers and trying to change your approach," Beltran said. "I know that."
Sure, he knows what he has done and it's significance, but the humble right-fielder always wants to send the attention to his team.
"At the end of the day, understand this is not about me," he said. "This is about the team. In order for a team to win a ballgame, a lot of things need to happen right, the right way. We have to pitch, we have to play defense, and we have to come through offensively. Thank God it seems like I've been able to do that, too."
That quote sums up Beltran quite nicely. He's well-aware of what he's done, but he also believes with all of his heart that it couldn't happen alone. He said it has taken a great team, a supportive family and God to get him to where he is today.
"Like I say, I give the glory and the honor to God, because He's the one that's allowed me to put myself in this type of situation."
Something tells me that before October is over, Beltran will find
himself in yet another of those high-impact situations.
Corey Noles is a Cardinals Writer and Columnist for The Daily Statesman. He is also a regular contributor to KSDK.com, StLSportsPage.com and Bleacher Report. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @coreynoles.