“It starts with Game 6…” Adam Wainwright said, after predicting a “legendary” comeback for his Cardinals.
The team ace and Game 5 starter was certainly not satisfied with his performance in the final game at Busch Stadium. He knew that his leadership could have shifted the series in favor of the Birds. Instead, the offense that has been sputtering came nearly to a stop. (Kind of like the plane the team sat on for roughly six hours yesterday awaiting their takeoff to Boston…)
And with that, it all comes down to this.
…no pressure or anything, guys.
As a Cardinals fan, October baseball is almost expected these days. As a baseball fan, it’s never taken for granted.
I’ve been told this week that I should just be content that my team made it this far; that I should, essentially, care less because my team made it to the final week of the postseason. Somehow, I’m not supposed to be upset if they lose, but I should instead simply be satisfied that they got the World Series t-shirt.
Trouble is, it doesn’t quite work that way.
Sure, I’ve seen October baseball before. But, I’ve never seen a game end on a walk-off obstruction call. That was new. And I certainly didn’t anticipate a game ending on a pick-off at first base, either.
I’ve watched with my dad as our Cardinals won it all — twice, no less — but, I’ve never watched so many players that I followed through the system make it to the Bigs. Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martiinez, Kolten Wong … their presence makes me even more invested in the team’s success.
And yes, I’ve watched this team match the Red Sox game for game in the regular season, then into the postseason, until now. I’ve seen this group of ballplayers blow minds with both their youth and there effectiveness. Except, now, I’m seeing them in that all-too-familiar position of having to fight their way out of a corner. Do or die. Win or go home. Backs against the wall.
So sure, I’ve seen it (almost) all before. But this nervous energy, the cautious optimism, the butterflies, the superstitions and all … this never gets old.
The Cardinals are back in Boston (finally) with as daunting a task before them as any they’ve faced thus far. That’s saying a lot, considering what this team has been burdened with this season. Losing Rafael Furcal, Chris Carpenter, and Jason Motte for the season, then Jaime Garcia and his multitude of replacements, watching the demise of Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski, pushing Edward Mujica to the 9th inning then losing him late, dealing with injuries for David Freese, Yadier Molina, Tony Cruz, Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig, and Matt Adams …
It hasn’t been easy for this squad. They’ve faced challenges before, and they always take them head-on. No ducking the issue. No pretending everything’s going as planned. Instead, they simply stare it down and somehow, often inexplicably, they win.
There are countless reasons why the Cardinals’ season should end tonight.
They’re in Boston. The Red Sox are on a roll. The Cardinals can’t score runs. They don’t have bench depth. They’re too young. Too slow. Too cautious. The pressure will simply be too much.
Eventually, their magic has to run out … right?
It’s a good thing none of that seems to scare them.
If there is a team that can go into Boston and steal back this series, it’s this group of insanely talented and admittedly naive youngsters backed by veterans hungry to go out on top. So, this is it. This is the exact moment they’ve prepared themselves to face. This is when they learn who they really are.
Like Wainwright said, it all starts with Game 6 and Michael Wacha’s golden arm. It wouldn’t hurt, though, if the bats created some golden opportunities and capitalized on them, too. He might be able to, but it’d be nice to not make Wacha do all the work!
He’ll face off against red-hot David Ortiz and Company tonight at Fenway, looking to yet again make the impossible possible.
Here’s to extending the season one more day.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on twitter @tarawellman.