Cardinals, Brewers Even Again In NLCS Race

In a perfect world, the St. Louis Cardinals punch their ticket to the World Series at home. But in a perfect world, they don’t leave runners in scoring position eight times. Or make errors in crucial moments. Or depend on the bullpen to be perfect, yet again.

I guess this isn’t a perfect world.

Matt Holliday hit an early homer and went 3-for-4 in the Cardinals' 4-2 loss to the Brewers in Game Four.

With Kyle Lohse pitching on 12 days’ rest, it was a toss up whether he’d be lights out or knocked out. Against the Brewers’ bats, with the home crowd support, either option was entirely plausible. For the first three innings, it looked like the extended rest left him calm and collected with lighting stuff.

With Tony La Russa playing a handful of gut feelings by starting Allen Craig, sitting recently crowned Comeback Player of the Year Lance Berkman, and flip-flopping David Freese and Matt Holliday in the lineup, the chips looked to fall in his favor early.

Matt Holliday — working on breaking out of a slump — hit a shot that sneaked over the right field corner for his first home run in 57 at bats.

In the third, it was another of La Russa’s gut feelings, Allen Craig, who did it for Torty and blasted one into the Cardinals’ bullpen.

2-0 Cardinals.

But with Freese and Holliday on with two outs, Molina grounded into a force out and the rally ended.

Two doubles, a single and an incredible Jerry Hariston slide to avoid Yadi’s tag at the plate tied it up in the third, and you just had a feeling that the momentum had shifted. Especially after a one-two-three inning from Wolf and another runner stranded in the fourth.

Yes, as an official member of the Ryan Theriot Fan Club, I’m obligated to gawk at his stellar double play that killed the Brewers rally in the fourth. Prince Fielder hit a hot shot to Theriot’s right. He dove, snagged it, and started the inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. I believe my exact tweet was, “NICE PLAY THERIOT!!” Continue reading

NLCS Game Four At A Glance

After last night’s thriller that saw the Redbirds jump out to an early 4-0 lead, the packed Busch Stadium was ready for another celebration. And for a while, it looked like they would get it.

Matt Holliday — moved to the number five slot for the night — eked out a home run (his first in 57 at bats) that looked like it was hooking foul. Could it be a good sign? If so, it was short lived.

Cardinals 2, Brewers 4 (Series tied 2-2)

A solo homer by Craig in the third was the last time the Cards would score, despite eight times having a runner in scoring position. They also extended their scoreless streak with runners in scoring position from the first inning of yesterday’s game.

The good news? David Freese kept up his hot hitting, going two-for-four, and Matt Holliday worked out of his slump going three-for-four. But, two runs on eight hits just didn’t cut it. Not against Randy Wolf pitching the game of his life, not with Kyle Lohse less than spectacular, and not with a few unfortunate bounces that threw the defense for a loop.

And after a long layoff, Lohse — who started out sharp and working quickly — got tripped up in the fourth and fifth, giving up three runs on six hits. And unfortunately for the St. Louis crowd, that was all the Brew Crew would need (although they added one more for insurance).

There were highlights — like a diving, rally-killing play by Ryan Theriot — and there were lowlights — like a run-costing error by, um, Ryan Theriot. But it wasn’t a one-problem loss. There were several issues that cost the Cardinals this game, but none more than the lack of run production.

Alas, the Rally Squirrel was quiet tonight as the Brewers end their eight-game postseason road losing streak and tie the series up at two games a piece. But, perhaps more importantly, the 4-2 Milwaukee win forces the series back to Miller Park for a game six.

But, before that happens, we have game five. And it’s crucial that Garcia is his usual, crisp-at-home self.

Cards Berkman Named NL Comeback Player of the Year

Lance Berkman: NL Comeback Player of the Year

Remember when Lance Berkman signed with the Cardinals last offseason?

He’s washed up? He stinks? He’s too old?

Throughout the season, Lance performed big and shut those bad thoughts down!

Berkman’s performance was so big, in fact, that he is this season’s National League Comeback Player of the Year.

According to Derrick Goold of the Post-Dispatch:

Major League Baseball announced Thursday morning that Lance Berkman is this year’s National League Comeback Player of the Year. The American League award went to Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

Berkman, 35, had his most productive season since 2008, batting .301 with a .547 slugging percentage and 31 homers. Berkman drove in 94 runs and scored 90, spending most of the season as the Cardinals’ No. 5 hitter.

The switch-hitter had a trying 2010 season that included a knee injury and knee surgery before it started. The lack of healthy compromised his swing, and he struggled to a season dotted with career lows. He hit only .248 with 12 homers and 58 RBIS. His slugging percentage in 2010 was .413, and he almost matched that with his .412 on-base percentage in 2011. He spent the 2010 season mostly with the Houston Astros, the only team had played for until a late-season trade to the New York Yankees.

The Cardinals re-signed Berkman for 2012 to a one-year, $12-million contract.

Berkman’s honor is no big surprise to us at Aaron Miles Fastball. Very early in the 2011 season, we formed the Lance Berkman Fan Club. We quickly fell in love with that guy we used to hate when he was with Astros. We gained members throughout the season … even the final day we gained the membership of our friend, and long time club holdout, Ann.

Congratulations Lance! We’re looking forward to seeing you more in this postseason and all of 2012!

Miranda Remaklus is lead St. Louis Cardinals contributor to Aaron Miles’ Fastball. She is also senior reporter at Aerys Offsides. Follow her on twitter, @missmiranda

Cardinals Bullpen Boys Deliver Big Win

Not Closer Jason Motte

What’s that adage — good pitching stops good hitting?

The St. Louis Cardinals received plenty of good pitching last night, though ace Chris Carpenter was not at his best. And the bullpen boys — yes, strictly the youngsters this time around — stepped up and led the Cards to a 4-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. They now have a 2-1 NLCS lead.

How good were those bullpen boys? They didn’t even allow a Brewer to reach base — and they pitched four innings. The final hit by the Brewers was a Yuniesky Betancourt single in the fourth off Carpenter. Prince Fielder was the last one to reach base when he was intentionally walked in the fifth.

So that was 12 Brewers to the plate and 12 Brewers sent back to the dugout by Fernando Salas, Lance Lynn, Marc Rzepczynski and Jason Motte. And the Not Closer earned his first save of the NLCS and third of the postseason.

Of course, it didn’t seem like it would be tense at all in the first inning. After CC escaped a first inning jam, the Cardinals came out swinging against Yovani Gallardo. Rafael Furcal singled and scored the first run on a double by Jon Jay, marking the fifth consecutive postseason game the Cardinals have scored in the first inning. With Albert up and first base open, the Brewers chose to pitch to him — and he smacked the first pitch to deep center, where it bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double.

Then came back-to-back walks to Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. Yadi was then up with the bases loaded and … of course he did. The Cardinals like grounding into double plays as much this postseason as they did from April to September. But Albert scored to make it 3-0.

Continue reading

NLCS Game 3 At A Glance

Cards beat the Brewers 4-3 to move to 2-1 in the NLCS.

The Cardinals scored all the runs they needed in the first inning. Chris Carpenter was a little shaky but he and the bullpen were able to hold it together as the Cardinals beat the Brewers 4-3, to take a 2-1 lead in the NLCS.

The Cardinals got RBI doubles from Jon Jay, Albert Pujols and David Freese to take  a 4-0 in the first. Thankfully it was all the team would need thanks to some good pitching and defense.

Carpenter pitched five innings, gave up six hits, three earned runs – including a home run to Mark Kotsay. And he struck out three. Fernando Salas had a scoreless sixth inning. Lance Lynn effectively pitched the seventh and faced a batter in the eighth. Mark “Zepper” Rzepczynski faced Prince Fielder in the eighth and gave the crowd a jolt as he struck the big guy out.

Jason Motte, “not-the-closer”, faced the last four Brewers batters striking out three of them.

Great game for the Cardinals as they are now up 2-1 against the Brewers, with two games left at Busch.

Go Cardinals!


Miranda Remaklus is lead St. Louis Cardinals contributor to Aaron Miles Fastball. She is also senior reporter at Aerys Offsides over in the NFL section. Follow her on Twitter, @missmiranda. 

Cardinals Rally Squirrel: It’s An Epidemic!

They’re everywhere!

The phenomenon of the Rally Squirrel, our favorite good luck charm of the NLDS, still continues during the NLCS. In fact, squirrel sightings are spreading throughout all of Cardinal Nation.


My count: five squirrels in two days. True, squirrels are not uncommon around my office — the building’s adjacent to a wooded area and squirrels dart across the sidewalk or through the parking lot from time to time. But not like this.

As I walked into work Monday — disappointed in Sunday’s loss, already anxious about game two — a squirrel ran from a hedge next to the door onto the sidewalk. It paused for a moment before dashing over to the trees on the other side. Ah, my own Rally Squirrel, telling me not to worry!

But wait, there’s more.

Leaving for lunch, driving toward the parking lot’s exit, there was another one — running across the pavement. Hours later, going home for the day, I got into my car. As I went to turn the key, I noticed something in the parking lot: another squirrel was running through, but it paused for several seconds right in front of my car. Honestly!

Continue reading

Albert Tames The Beast

Albert Pujols

The Cardinals desperately needed to get out of Milwaukee with one win. With Albert Pujols leading the way with three doubles and a home run, the Cardinals boarded their HAPPY FLIGHT back to St. Louis after securing a 12-3 victory over the Brew Crew.

Yes, that was correct! Albert the Machine is back! Three doubles and a home run? That comes out to 5 RBI! Either Albert didn’t like Nyjer Morgan referring to him as Alberta in a tweet earlier this season or … he’s finally out of his post-season slump! Let’s hope all of the above, as he will have a very appreciative crowd awaiting him at Busch on Wednesday!

In addition to Albert’s big day, David Freese had a home run in the ninth inning. It was his second homer in the NLCS. The native St. Louis guy has come up big for his home town!

The Cardinals big inning came in the seventh off Kameron Loe. With one out, Albert got on board with a ground-rule double. Matt Holliday drove him in with a single to right field. Lance Berkman got on base, moving Matt up to second. Yadi Molina drove in Holliday with a single to right. Lance moved up to third. Freese singled to center fielder Nyjer Morgan and scored Lance. Yadi moved up to third. And then, Nick Punto singled to score Yadi.

After four runs crossed the plate, Milwaukee brought in LaTroy Hawkins to close out the inning. Continue reading

NLCS Game Two At A Glance

Sometimes a team just needs a big, dominating win to add to their own confidence and to cut into the obnoxious over confidence of their opponent. That’s what I was hoping for tonight in game two at Miller Park.

Ask and ye shall receive!

A 12-3 victory sends the Cards home "happy" once again!

The Cardinals, facing Shaun Marcum, got it going early with a much-needed Albert Pujols two-run homer, and the Brew Crew couldn’t ever stop the bleeding.

Albert had a 4-for-5 night, and was responsible for 5 of the 12 (yes, 12!) runs batted in. But he wasn’t alone.

Jay, Pujols, Holliday, Berkman, Molina, Freese and Jackson all scored, while piling up 17 hits. Nine different Cardinals knocked hits against the Milwaukee pitching staff, backing Edwin Jackson who wasn’t quite at his best.

In his defense, he seemed to be on a shorter leash than normal, perhaps because of how La Russa got burned by leaving Garcia in last night. But his 4.1 innings was enough. The bullpen held serve and, in fact, Lance Lynn — on the roster after spending time on the disabled list — came in with the bases loaded and one out, threw one pitch and got Rickie Weeks to ground into a double play. (Now, it was a questionable call, but not the first of the night. It just happened to work for the Redbirds instead of against them.)

Oh, and Lynn’s one-pitch outing earned a win.

We’ve been waiting on a big Albert Pujols game. Check.

We’ve needed to see how the bullpen would handle the offense from the Brew Crew. Check.

And we really wanted to silence the “beast mode” with some beastliness of our own. Um, check and check.

We may have even found a motion to combat the beast gesture. I’m not entirely sure what it was, but Yadier Molina pulled it off more than once. It seemed to me that he was mimicking a baby rubbing its crying eyes. Cry babies? Interesting comeback. But whatever provided that inspiration or determination to beat the Crew at home, I’ll take it!

Tonight’s 12-3 win extends the getaway day streak and ensures one more “happy flight” back to St. Louis.

Check back with Aaron Miles’ Fastball in the morning for all the glorious details and highlights from tonight’s win.

The Good, Bad And Ugly Of Game One

Just like the first game of the NLDS, game one of the NLCS was good for the Cardinals up to a point. Then everything went downhill quickly and they couldn’t recover.

The Cardinals lost to the Brewers 9-6 yesterday in a rollercoaster game. Thanks to some shaky fifth inning pitching from Jaime Garcia, the Brewers big sluggers were able to do their thing and take command. The relievers who followed him weren’t all able to keep things in control, while the Brewers bullpen was.

Here’s a closer look at the good, bad and ugly of the game.


  • The Cardinals took a 1-0 lead in the first, as a Jon Jay walk and Albert single allowed Matt Holliday to drive in Jay.
  • David Freese gave the Cards a 4-2 lead in the fourth with a nice homer to right-center. He had a great day defensively too.
  • Lance Berkman had an RBI single in the fifth to put the Cards up 5-2. He, Holliday and Rafael Furcal all had two hits each.
  • Lance Lynn pitched a scoreless inning, his first game appearance since Aug. 9. He’d been out with a strained oblique.

Continue reading

NLCS Game 1 At A Glance

Brewers 9, Cardinals 6

Giving up home runs can definitely hurt your chances to win a game.

Allow homers to Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder and Yuniesky Betancourt — each with a runner on? Uh, yeah. Kiss game one good-bye, just like all those balls flying over the fences at Miller Park.

The Cardinals lost game one 9-6, precisely because of those homers. Jaime Garcia had a rough game, allowing six runs (all earned) on six hits and pitching into the fifth inning. He left after giving up four straight hits, including a ground-rule double to Braun that scored two and then Fielder’s homer. Octavio Dotel had been warming up in the bullpen before that, so it was curious to keep Garcia in there to face Braun and especially Fielder.

Ultimately, though, it didn’t really make much difference — Dotel came in and promptly made an error on a ball hit to him, then gave up Betancourt’s homer.

The rest of the relievers used were up and down. Lance Lynn made his first appearance since August and pitched a scoreless inning. Kyle McClellan is back on the roster for the NLCS, but had a rough time of it and gave up a run. Marc Rzepczynski got two outs, including a nice strikeout of Nyjer Morgan, and Mitchell Boggs pitched a scoreless inning.

The Cards took a lead in the first inning on an RBI single by Matt Holliday, then took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on a homer by David Freese. Lance Berkman made it 5-2 with an RBI single in the fifth.

In the end, though, it wasn’t enough.

If there’s a plus, at least they lost game one of the division series as well.

Check back for more on this game tomorrow morning.