Bottom Line On Game Three: A Win Is A Win

We know the final score of last night’s Game Three of the World Series: Cardinals 5, Red Sox 4.

And, by now, we do believe what we just saw in the bottom of the ninth — we’ve all watched replay after replay after replay.

The bottom line: this …

10-26-1was obstruction, since it illustrated the very example given in the MLB rule book:

BXjm3GDCAAA_SSB.jpg largeWe as Cardinals fans are thrilled.

Baseball fans who understand the rules — and appreciate the umpires not only making correct calls but also having a press conference with Joe Torre after the game to further explain, by reading the rule book, how the correct call was in fact made — are pleased with the outcome, even if the ending was something none of us have ever seen in a World Series game.

Everyone else? Not happy, to put it mildly. Red Sox fans (and players) in particular.

Plus those furious it’s the Cardinals benefiting from this call — Cubs fans, Reds fans, Pirates fans, probably Dodgers fans. Especially Braves fans, remembering last year’s wild card game and the infield fly call.

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Cardinal Love Letter: Carlos Beltran

Dear Carlos,

So here we are, the morning of your first home World Series game. Hopefully you will get a great and well deserved ovation from the Cardinals fans at Busch Stadium tonight, both as recognition that after 2,064 regular season and 45 postseason games you finally reached the Series and also for what you’re playing through just to be in there at all. Because, ouch.

Carlos BeltranLiterally and figuratively.

That literal and figurative pain both came on the same play Wednesday night, of course, and I found myself getting angry at the baseball gods. Like, what kind of deal has David Ortiz made with them anyway? Why does Fenway Park have to be so cruel to the opponents? (Seriously, Red Sox fans are arrogant enough anyway.) How can it possibly be that you finally make it to the World Series after all this time only to have to leave your first game in the second inning, and after saving a grand slam?

Yet there you were, back out there in Game Two despite the pain of your bruised ribs. Singling your first time up and driving in the final run as the Cardinals won and tied the Series. What you endured physically to be out there is so apparent in this video that was posted yesterday, especially in that sigh as you walk down the long hallway to get to the clubhouse.

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Cardinals Game Two Win Taught Us Six Valuable Lessons

Game Two was so much better than Game One for the St. Louis Cardinals, to state the absolute obvious. Then again, winning has a way of making everything better, doesn’t it? And the Cardinals were definitely better last night as they beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2 and tied the World Series at one win each.

collage 10-24As it unfolded, Game Two also taught us some valuable lessons. Such as lesson one: a “bad” Michael Wacha is still really, really good. Last night was Wacha’s worst start since mid-September and, obviously, still incredibly impressive.

Yes, his October has been so unbelievable that we have to go back to Sept. 19 to find a game in which Wacha allowed more than the two earned runs he gave up on one swing by David Ortiz last night. And the only other time in his short big league career that he walked four, as he did last night, was on Sept. 14 against the Mariners. Yet even with those “bad” numbers from last night, Wacha gave up only three hits, struck out six and won his fourth game in October — and the Cardinals have won eight games this month so far. He’s been so very good that, going back to his final regular season start (his near no-hitter against the Nationals) through last night, he’s allowed just three runs in 35 2/3 innings pitched for a 0.78 ERA and struck out 37.

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Twas The Morn Of Game One

2013 WSTwas the morn of Game One, when all through the land
Every creature was scurrying ’round, every fan.
The schedule was cleared for that evening with care,
With hopes of a Cardinals win finding them there.

The ballpark sat ready, all quiet and snug,
But, soon it’d be roaring with noise from above.
Ringing through Fenway, from foul pole to foul pole
As 40,000 strong cheered loudly, with one goal.

For Boston or St. Lou, the die-hards would clatter,
Two cities alike, two rich histories that matter
Because, as they worked for a trophy, a ring,
They played for those lost, who could no longer sing.

A summer of victories, some home, some away,
Had led both the Sox and the Cards to this day.
As the hour crept closer, the sun fading fast,
The mission grew clearer, each knowing their task.

With Wainwright and Lester, the battle begins
Strikes early and often will help their team win.
Matheny will watch from his perch on the step,
Carefully planning which move he’ll try next.

Now Waino! Now Yadi! Now, Beltran, and Adams!
On David! On, Matt-squared! On, Jay, Pete and Allen!
To the top of the Monster! To the top of the wall!
Now smash away, mash away, bash that baseball!

Two teams that reflect one another’s best traits
Two fan bases ready to jump, shout and pace.
Since 2004 this reunion’s been wanted.
Revenge for the Birds, from the series that’s haunted.

The butterflies flutter, the energy builds
The team that we love soon will take to the field.
It’s this that they’ve worked for. It’s now that they can
Set the stage, stake their claim, finish the plan.

It’s the best time of year, it’s the autumnal classic
And baseball’s best teams hope for October magic.
With a chorus as one, clad in red fans will call,
“Let the series begin! Let’s go now! Let’s PLAY BALL!”

Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on twitter @tarawellman.

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Good, Better, Best Of Another Cardinals Classic Game Six

Six is storied number for the St. Louis Cardinals. The retired number of the greatest Cardinal Stan Musial, of course. A serious number, as we all know from the commercials. And October Games Sixes are pretty special as well.

3914_st_louis_cardinals-champion-2013Yes, “Game Six” immediately calls to mind the 2011 World Series — rightly so, as it’s one of the best World Series games in history with the majestic ninth and 10th inning comebacks and walk-off “we will see you tomorrow night!” 11th-inning moment.

But we can’t forget Game Six of the 1985 NLCS — against the Dodgers, no less — was another classic thanks to a ninth-inning game-winning pennant-clinching home run from Jack Clark. Or Jim Edmonds and his 12th-inning walk-off homer in 2004’s NLCS Game Six against the Astros.

Now we have another classic Game Six victory to remember fondly — and no home runs were necessary.

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Cardinals Are National League Champs!

Thats a winner-LGThat’s a National League pennant winner for the St. Louis Cardinals!!!

Yes — for the second time in three seasons, third time in eight seasons, fourth time in 10 seasons and 19th time overall the Cardinals are going to the World Series!

And, after all the national media talk/hype that seemed to dominate these past couple days, it’s what happens on the field that really counts. Which was the Cardinals dominating Clayton Kershaw with a 4-run third in which Michael Wacha batted twice and then scored 5 more in the fifth. Kershaw was charged with seven of the runs in the Cardinals 9-0 victory!

Once again, Michael Wacha was outstanding — allowing just two hits to the Dodgers all night and striking out five. Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal followed Wacha yet again, allowing no hits and striking out three.

Not surprisingly, Michael Wacha was named the NLCS MVP after his two scoreless and amazing performances — yes, the kid drafted last year, just in case you’ve forgotten! (Of course you haven’t!)

And, at last, Carlos Beltran is finally going to the World Series! At the same time, Yadier Molina is going to his fourth! It will be either a rematch of the 2004 World Series against the Red Sox or the 2006 World Series against the Tigers. (Go Detroit!)

What a team! What a ride–oh, wait. That was two years ago. What a team, though, for sure! And look for more on our 2013 National League champs tomorrow!

On-Paper Advantage Falls Through In Game 3 Loss

Ah, the best laid plans. Lion

On paper, things were lining up perfectly for the Cardinals headed into last night’s NLCS Game 3. They’d beaten the Dodgers’ two star pitchers, and had Adam Wainwright on the mound. They were up 2-0 over a Los Angeles team that had struggled offensively even more than the Cardinals had, and they had a golden opportunity to put the first nail in the coffin.

Unfortunately, it’s games where the odds are with them that the Cardinals tend to struggle. And struggle they did. Continue reading

Kelly And Company Escape With Game One Winner

It didn’t look good.

That moment many have feared since Joe Kelly returned to the starting rotation —  the Joe Kelly 1moment the league catches up with his magic tricks — appeared to have arrived. Too many pitches. Too many base runners. Too much adrenaline booming through his usually mellow veins.

That was the first three innings. The good news is, it takes at least nine innings to tell the whole story.

Yes, in the first three innings, Kelly struggled. A single, a hit batter, and a wild pitch in the first; another runner at second base with two outs in the second; and a double, two walks, a botched 1-2-3 double play and a base knock in the third, and the Dodgers — behind Zach Greinke — had a 2-0 lead.

But, we know how this story goes. Where Adam Wainwright is the Ace, Michael Wacha is the Boy Wonder, and Shelby Miller is the Near-Perfect Game guy, Kelly is the Escape Artist. He weaves his way into, and then out of, trouble. He ties himself in knots, bound with the chains of one of baseball’s most potent lineups. And yet, he escapes.

It baffles the minds of the sabermetricians. The numbers don’t always add up. He shouldn’t be this successful. He keeps getting lucky.

… I think he gets lucky a lot. And I have nothing against getting lucky. Continue reading

Cardinals Backs Against The Wall? That’s Familiar

The St. Louis Cardinals lose a heartbreaker in the postseason and now face a must-win game — where have we seen this before?

Oh, that’s right. Last October. And the October before that.

Photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

                      Photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

And how did those particular division series turn out?

Yes, it’s a very familiar October situation in which the Cardinals find themselves after falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 yesterday. The game was definitely winnable, which perhaps makes the loss even more painful.

Too many of the automatics from the 2013 Cardinals — hitting with runners in scoring positions, the rookies in the bullpen coming through when called upon — didn’t happen.

So here we are.

One person who is automatic in October, and continued the trend yesterday, was Carlos Beltran. You’ll remember that he tied Babe Ruth on Thursday with his 15th career postseason homer. Thanks to his eighth inning game-tying blast off Mark Melancon yesterday, he’s now surpassed The Babe with his 16th in 136 at-bats (compared to Ruth’s 15 in 129 at-bats). Surprisingly — or perhaps not, given the record at PNC Park this year — that was the first home run the Cardinals have hit there this season.

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Cardinals Cruise To Victory Thanks To October Stars

When October arrives and every game is more meaningful, some players shine brighter.

And those shining stars for the St. Louis Cardinals — Carlos Beltran, David Freese, Adam Wainwright — led the way to a 9-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in Game One of the National League Division Series.

collage10-3-13It began in a wild and wonderful bottom of the third inning with, of all things, a walk to Wainwright by A.J. Burnett. (What’s the saying about leadoff walks?) Next was a single by Matt Carpenter to bring up Beltran.

And he simply “continued his postseason surge,” as Dick Stockton phrased it, launching a home run to the right field corner. See it again here, or just watch that gorgeous swing over and over again in super slow-mo in this gif at CBS Sports.

Yet the Cardinals were far from done in the inning.

Matt Holliday was up next and he doubled, followed by a hit-by-pitch to Matt Adams’ lower leg that had him sprawled across home plate. Next: a walk to Yadier Molina to load the bases. Six up, six reached, no outs, Jon Jay at the plate — and he too is walked to score Holliday. 4-0.

David Freese was the eighth man up, bases loaded, still no outs and, hey — it’s October now! So it was no surprise that Freese singled past Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau as both Adams and Yadi easily scored. Wait, Marlon Byrd’s throw in from right field ended up somewhere by the Cards dugout so Jay raced toward home and was safe — seven runs. No outs. Anyone else remember why they love Cardinals October baseball?

Perhaps not surprisingly, that was all for Burnett in the game. Jeanmar Gomez came in and retired the next three, including Wainwright and Carpenter for their second at-bats of the inning.

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