Even With Losses, Odds Still In Cardinals Favor

For 10 glorious games, the nightcap on Aug. 30 until Sept. 8, the St. Louis Cardinals lived up to everyone’s expectations.

9-12-14They went 9-1, compiling two wins via shutout (including a tense 1-0 victory against the Pirates to sweep the series), one win by 11 runs, another by 8 runs and came back from a 5-0 deficit to victory. The one loss, to the Brewers, ended Milwaukee’s nine-game losing streak — something that was bound to stop at some point. Best of all, and thanks to that Brewers streak, the Cardinals saw themselves rise from one game back in second place in the NL Central to a 4 1/2 game lead. Magic number countdowns began — 19 on down to 14.

Finally! What we’d waited for through all the Mathenaging of 2014 was at last here!

Now there’s today, Sept. 12.

Magic number stuck at 14 since Tuesday. Three straight losses for the first time since that great streak of 10 games began on the evening of Aug. 30 — plus three straight losses to the Reds, who hadn’t won three in a row since early August. The Mathenaging of Mark Ellis as a pinch-hitter against Aroldis Chapman in those three losses, two of which Ellis ended by (surprise!) striking out, including yesterday in a 1-0 game after Matt Holliday walked. Division lead now 2 1/2 games since the Pirates, after that sweep by the Cardinals, swept the Cubs and took three of four from the Phillies.

Just another bump in the pothole-filled road that is the 2014 Cardinals season?

In all likelihood, yes.

Especially when you take a closer look at what little of the season remains.

Continue reading

Remembering 9/11 And Jack Buck’s Tribute

9-11-tribute-1Each year we pause on this day and remember that there are more important things than the Cardinals, frustrating baseball games and egotistical umpires.

We recall what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, honoring the victims in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania on that horrific day, as well as remembering the unity we felt throughout the country in the days afterward.

We also remember Jack Buck and his incomparable eloquence with this tribute when baseball resumed.

We definitely remember.

Cardinals Announce Postseason Ticket Details

With the Cardinals magic number for clinching the National League Central currently at 14, the team just sent out the following press release regarding tickets for October. Here are the details.

saint_louis_cardinals_logoAs postseason play approaches, tickets for potential Cardinals Wild Card and Division Series games will go on sale Thursday, Sept. 11, at 10 a.m. Central Time.

Based on the final standings, the Cardinals could host one Wild Card game and as many as three home games in the National League Division Series (NLDS).

Tickets for all potential Wild Card and NLDS games will be available tomorrow at cardinals.com/postseason, via phone at 314.345.9000, and at the Busch Stadium ticket windows on 8th Street.

Ticketing details for possible National League Championship Series (NLCS) games and World Series games will be announced later in September.

Announcements regarding potential Tiebreaker game ticket availability and public purchase will come at a later date, if necessary.

Welcome, Welcome, Welcome: Cardinals Add Three To Roster

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they that they have added three additional players to their active roster with rookie infielder Greg Garcia, outfielder Tommy Pham and right-handed pitcher Sam Tuivailala (pronounced TOO-ee-vah-lah-la) being promoted from the Memphis (AAA) roster.

St_Louis_Cardinals_1998-present_logoTo make room for the additional players on their 40-man Major League roster, the Cardinals designated catcher Audry Perez and outfielder Rafael Ortega for assignment. The Cardinals active roster currently stands at 36 players.

Garcia, 25, will be making his third appearance of the season with the Cardinals, while both Pham, 26, and Tuivailala, 21, will be making their Major League debuts with their first game appearances.

The right-handed hitting Garcia, who has appeared in nine games with the Cardinals this season, finished the 2014 minor league campaign with a .275 batting average, eight home runs and 41 RBI in 110 games between Memphis (AAA) and Springfield (AA). Garcia was drafted by the Cardinals in the 7th round (229th player overall) of the 2010 draft out of the University of Hawaii, where he was teammates with Kolten Wong. Continue reading

What A Week, Cardinals Fans!

Last Friday, the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Chicago Cubs 7-2. It was their third straight loss and fifth in their previous seven games, and they remained stuck 1 1/2 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings.

Thats a winner-LGThe losing streak extended to four Saturday afternoon when the Cubs took the first game of their day-night doubleheader. But then came game two, and especially the 9-run eighth inning for a 13-2 win.

Nothing but W’s since, with the streak now 6 after last night’s tense and defensive-filled 3-2 victory over the Brewers.

That deficit in the standings has turned into a 4-game lead.

The Cards are a season-high 14 games over .500 at 77-63.

Michael Wacha is back.

Over the past seven games Peter Bourjos is hitting .462, Jon Jay .455, Matt Holliday .379 and Daniel Descalso and Randal Grichuk .375 each.

Trevor Rosenthal is tied for the major league lead with 42 saves (even if an incredibly high number of them are very nerve-wracking, like last night’s).

The Cardinals have a magic number of 19 to clinch the NL Central title for a second straight year.

Happy Friday, Cardinals fans, and what a week!

Have The Real 2014 Cardinals Finally Arrived?

Five-game winning streak, including a sweep of the Pirates with a tense 1-0 walk-off win yesterday. (Gorgeous job, Peter Bourjos, with that single!) A season-high 13 games over .500 at 76-63. First place after spending five months in second, with a three-game lead over the struggling Brewers. (Thanks for sweeping them, Cubs!)

9314-2

                            Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Is this the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals team we expected all season, finally arriving in September — just when it matters the most?

It certainly seems like it. And that’s definitely good to see.

They’re coming from behind to win — in four of the five games in this streak, the Cubs and the Pirates scored first. They’re scoring plenty of runs, with 34 in the past five games. They’re getting good pitching, especially with the nine shutout innings yesterday from Shelby Miller, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal.

And the national media — remember, those who were just like all of us in picking them to win the NL Central and go far into October — are certainly back on board these days too.

Here’s Bob Nightengale in USA Today:

Just when it looked like the National League Central race would be a doozy, a three-headed showdown between the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates, leave it to the Cardinals to ruin the drama.

Continue reading

A Positive Stat For The Cardinals Offense

The season-long struggles of the 2014 Cardinals on offense are much discussed and well documented, so there’s no need to get into those. And that might be why I was surprised to hear last night of an offensive category in which the Cardinals lead the National League — a positive category, that is.

thumbs-upDid you know the Cardinals are tops in the NL in two-out RBI? That little tidbit was courtesy of Greg Brown on the Pirates radio broadcast last night (and, yes, I will often listen to the other team’s announcers instead). The Cardinals may be 13th in the NL in total RBI with 474 for the season, but 196 of those have come with two outs. That two-out total is six better than the second-place Dodgers, and just two behind the AL leading A’s.

The game-tying RBI by pinch-hitter Randal Grichuck (welcome back!) in the seventh inning last night was with two outs to add to the Cards lead in that category. Of course, the ultimate outcome of the game was not good as the Cards lost 5-2 on a pinch-hit home run by Ike David off Seth Maness in the bottom of the eighth.

Sigh.

The Cards and Pirates are back at it in just a few hours, with game time at 11:35 a.m. Central and a pitching match-up of Adam Wainwright vs. Jeff Locke. Here’s hoping the Cardinals can win to take the series — then at least they can have a split for this Pennsylvania road trip.

Appreciating Again The Magic Of 2011’s Comeback

Three years ago, the Cardinals began today with a record of 67-63 after being swept by the National League West’s fourth place Dodgers. The Cards were second in the National League Central to the Brewers, 10 games back, and third in the wild card standings, 10.5 games behind the Braves and one game behind the Giants.

2011-WORLD-SERIESWe know what happened from there, of course.

We’ll never tire of recalling how the Cardinals went 23-9 from Aug. 25 through the final day of the regular season on Sept. 28, when Chris Carpenter and Company beat the Astros 8-0 for a historic comeback to win the wild card. As those games — and wins — went by, we marveled at the contributions from The Shredder and The Riot and Freeser and even Carlos Marmol and his walk-off wild pitch in addition to the season-long contributions from Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Yadi and That Guy Who Used To Play First Base.

Yet one thing seems to be forgotten in all our giddiness and our magical memories of Happy Flights and reaching October and the incredible ride that culminated in glorious World Championship No. 11 in ’11.

The Braves.

It’s so easy to forget the absolutely vital role the Braves played in making it all possible for the Cardinals.

Continue reading

A Look At This Weekend’s Cardinals-Phillies Series

Ah, a Friday night game where the Cardinals play the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park … that reminds me of my favorite Cardinals game ever. And while the Cardinals could definitely find themselves playing Game Five of the National League Division Series again this year (although minus Chris Carpenter), the 56-71 Phillies definitely won’t. But they will take on the Redbirds this weekend — and here’s a preview of the series ahead.

Phillies-LogoHow We Got Here
The Cardinals begin a six-game road trip that takes them to both Eastern and Western Pennsylvania, with the first stop being Philadelphia. The Cards enter tonight’s series having won four straight, including a sweep of the Reds, and seven of their last 10 games. They’re a season-high 12 games over .500, just 1.5 games behind the Brewers in the National League Central standings and currently hold the top spot in the NL wild card race with a two-game lead over the Giants.

The Phillies, on the other hand, are … well, not very good. They’re solidly in last place in the NL East, 17.5 games behind the first-place Nationals, and have spent much of the season there too. They did just win two of three from the Mariners, although they did not face Felix Hernandez, but have won just four of their previous 10 games. Continue reading

A Hard Team Not To Love, Mike? Well …

“It hasn’t been easy,” Matheny said. “There haven’t been a lot of laughers one way or the other. They show grit. They show fight. It’s a hard team not to love.”

571eea2e-3e4e-4d1d-acab-86c899b22278The Cardinals won last night 5-4, their second straight walk-off win over the Reds — this one on a walk-off hit by pitch to Jon Jay (although it wasn’t the first time this season the Cards won in that way.) The victory put them at a season-high 11 games over .500. And, following the game, manager Mike Matheny said the above words.

It’s a hard team not to love. Hmmmm. How many fans feel that way about the 2014 Cardinals?

There’s certainly been a lot of discontent among Cardinals fans this season, more than I remember seeing in a very long time, and I am right there with those not enjoying things much. The main reason: Mike Matheny.

In a post from Monday at Viva El Birdos — Mathenaging: Mike Matheny doubles down on double standards — Ben Humphrey really captures the discontent well. If you just need a quick summary, the subhead from that post will do: “Manager Mike Matheny is not the Leader of Men the Cardinals sold us upon his hire.”

Sure, I know not every fan feels that way — I see the giddy social media posts and the tweets exclaiming how their record is even better now than it was at this point in 2011 and the continued gushing over Matheny’s looks. Continue reading