First off, welcome back to the comfortable confines of St. Louis! We missed you all while you were away. But we’ve been thinking — planning all along for the chance you’d have in game six tonight. See, we knew this series wasn’t going to be easy. But we’ve believed, all the while.
Now you’re home, and yes, there’s a lot riding on this game. I don’t have to tell you that, I’m sure. By now, you’ve been peppered with questions about how you will handle the pressure of pitching in an elimination game in front of a sold out Busch Stadium, with the Rangers ready to pounce on any chance they’re given. So I won’t go there.
Instead, I’ll remind you of something: sure, this is the biggest game of your life. But two months ago, you weren’t even supposed to be here! You — and the crazy group of guys behind you — have played this last-chance game every day since then. Back against the wall, win or go home … you know the drill.
Every time, you pulled off the unlikely, disproved the “inevitable,” and confounded the experts (not to mention the guys in the other dugout).
Your 9-4 home record this season sits well in your favor. But in October, it gets even better. The Rangers are coming in to take on your 0.77 ERA in your postseason home starts. That’s not a number any lineup is going to be excited to face.
Sure, there were some bumps on the road, but that’s the thing — you’re home! And everyone knows, there’s no place like home.
Game two was a beauty, at least on your end. You did your job, and you reminded Cardinal Nation just why it is that we Honk for Jaime, loud and proud! You kept your focus, trusted in Yadi, and methodically pieced together a gem of a World Series start.
Take pride in that. Own that night, and the good it did.
Now, go repeat it.
While the national media is in a tizzy about the bullpen mixup on Monday, you can get them all off the hook by doing what you do best. Pitch your game. Remember Duncan’s plan.
And, oh yeah, pitch like your life depends on it.
No do-overs. No time to worry about base runners or shifty strike zones. No energy to be wasted or focus to be compromised. Just you, and the guy at the plate.
Just one pitch, then the next.
Just you, doing whatever it takes to give your guys life for another day — and one more chance to do what they all said couldn’t be done. Because you can. And we all love you for it!
This team has given us all so much to be proud of, and tonight, we’re all depending on you.
But no pressure. You’ve got this!
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.