With a record of 96-65, the St. Louis Cardinals currently top the National League — thanks to the Philadelphia Phillies hanging on to beat the Atlanta Braves last night.
A Cardinals win today, or a Braves loss, would give the Cards home field advantage throughout the playoffs as well as the wild card winner of either the Pittsburgh Pirates or Cincinnati Reds as their division series opponent.
Once again, a magic number of one.
While it seems like Cardinals fans are all for achieving that best record, manager Mike Matheny doesn’t necessarily share that sentiment as Jason Mastrodonato writes at Cardinals.com:
“Maybe I should put more [emphasis on home-field advantage], but I don’t,” Matheny said. “My theory is people start overthinking that and over planning and trying to be a master puppeteer in how that all plays out. I think that stuff comes back and bites you. I think there’s too many good teams in this right now and we got to respect that, respect the game, just like we’ve done all season long and what we do is we go out and set our priorities.
“I made it clear to you guys right now, our priority is getting these guys ready for Thursday. But whenever we walk out there we also don’t want to lose that culture that we developed of going out and maximizing everything we’ve got while we’re out there out. No matter who we put out there, we’re playing to win all the time.”
So, does it look like Mike is saying “take that, everyone complaining about Jake Westbrook starting today”?
Anyway, yesterday’s game was a rather easy 6-2 win over the Chicago Cubs, and it was cruising along as another shutout until the ninth inning.