So, This Is It.

Fenway awaits. Bring it on, Boston.

Fenway awaits. Bring it on, Boston.

“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. Continue reading

Wacha Wows In One-Hit Winner

Wacha 2All too often, kids come into professional baseball hot off of a collegiate career with potential through the roof. It’s not unusual for the transition to pro ball to take some time. It IS unusual for a guy less than a year removed from his final college game to not only be invited to Spring Training, but also force his way into the conversation about the Big League rotation.

When Cardinal veterans like Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright jump on board, you have to believe there’s something to it.

This spring, Molina said the 22-year-old Michael Wacha was Big League ready. Wainwright, when asked about the 2014 rotation said, “He’ll be there.”

Cardinals fans know first hand what happens when a guy doesn’t live up to the astronomical expectations. Colby Rasmus? Brendan Ryan? Tyler Greene? Not pretty. And with a rotation of Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller (which left out Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal), there was no need to rush Wacha. Continue reading

Cardinal Love Letter: The Pitching Staff

Dear guys,

Now that the Super Bowl is over, next up — finally — is baseball. It’s just over a week now until you’ll all be in Jupiter, Fla., with Yadi and Tony Cruz and the minor league catchers and the St. Louis Cardinals will finally start moving toward the 2013 season.

Ah … Last October seems like forever ago, so it’s good that our countdown is in the single digits.

As if that alone isn’t enough to get me excited, the season preview articles I’ve read in the past couple days just up my admiration for you collectively all the more. There was this in USA Today last week, “Healthy staff generates optimism in St. Louis,” and a Yahoo Sports preview too. And Jenifer Langosch wrote the “Cardinals boast remarkable depth in rotation,” which of course doesn’t mention all of you in the bullpen who also are a strength of the team.

Pitching, and pitchers, have fascinated me for years, going back to my own very brief and ill-fated softball pitching career. Because you don’t realize, or at least I didn’t, the power the pitcher has over controlling the game. The pace, the momentum, the outcome — it’s all right there, resting on you and when you decide to throw that ball and set the next play in motion.

(And when you walk batter after batter after batter, and your coach ignores your frantic glances to the dugout as you internally plead for him to take you out of the game, so you keep walking batter after batter … well, it stays with you for a very long time. Obviously. Plus, way back in 2000, my own experience made me want to hug Rick Ankiel. And, more recently, made me feel sorry for Ryan Franklin. But enough of that …)

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Bullpen Woes, Dugout Decisions Cost Cards in Washington

Well then. (Where do you even begin with a game like this?)

On a day when the Cards had a great chance to get back on track after the terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad series against the Brewers over the weekend, it went from bad to worse and then some, come the sixth inning.

That newly dreaded sixth inning.

Jaime Garcia had done his job, allowing two runs on eight hits through six. Not mind boggling, but solid. Certainly good enough for his 7th win on the year. Plus, he left with a 4-run lead. With only three innings to play, that should be enough. Right?

Games like this are just plain hard to watch, as the Cards lose to the Nationals 8-6.

Or not.

Now, in all honesty, the drama started in the fifth inning on back-to-back errors by everyone’s favorite short stop, Ryan Theriot. Up until that point, he was doing his fan club proud, with two hits and a run scored. But it was all for naught, once the error machine took over.

To his credit, he did start the inning-ending double play, and no runs were scored, but the fifth-inning struggles were only a sign of what was yet to come.

Garcia would likely have made it out of the sixth unscathed  if Theriot would have fielded not one, but two ground balls that went down as infield singles. I’m really not sure what happened with Theriot, but neither play was made, and Garcia ended up charged with a run.

And instead of rallying to score some insurance runs, the bats went silent … as did Cardinal Nation when the bullpen call was made for the seventh.

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