Action, Drama And The Right Ending In Game Four Blockbuster

Game Four of the NLCS was like an epic action movie — dramatic moments, heroes both predictable and less so who face rough times, villains also predictable and less so, enough tension to keep you interested up until the very end. And, thankfully, the right ending with the heroes emerging triumphant: Cardinals 4, Dodgers 2.

collage 10-15Yes, the win gives the Cardinals a 3-1 advantage in the NLCS. But all Cardinals fans should know well enough nothing is guaranteed yet — didn’t we see a certain movie last year where the “heroes” ultimately wore black and orange, not red as good guys always should? So this epic tale is not finished quite yet …

But the latest installment was ultimately quite fulfilling.

And, as with any good story, it’s outcome was not predictable at the beginning.

To start with, not everyone was happy with director Mike Matheny’s choice for last night’s lead role, Lance Lynn. And those who voiced such displeasure before the game felt like they were the correct ones when Lynn ran into trouble in the second inning — a quick check of Twitter at the time more than made that perfectly clear. Then again a one-out single, walk, line out and another walk to load the bases, albeit to the catcher with pitcher Ricky Nolasco up next, can cause such reactions. But perhaps Lynn just wanted to keep everyone watching involved in the game, as Nolasco was called out on strikes.

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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

Yadi Proving His Value Even More In NLCS

Through two games, the story of the NLCS for the St. Louis Cardinals has been pitching. A subplot to that story, however, is catching — or specifically the influence on the young Cardinal hurlers from Yadier Molina.

collage 10-13-13Which is not a surprise, obviously — Yadi is who Yadi is, and that’s arguably the best catcher in the majors — but his influence has perhaps never been more apparent than in Games One and Two.

It’s been noticed. It’s been mentioned. And not just by the Cardinals.

Lyle Spencer of writes that Yadi’s impact “is so pervasive Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, without prompting, made several flattering mentions of him on Sunday.”

Such as when it came to the struggles at the plate thus far in the NLCS of Yasiel Puig.

Asked about Puig, 0-for-10 with six strikeouts after batting .471 in the Division Series against the Braves, Mattingly referenced how “Yadier and their pitching staff” were “kind of yo-yoing and keeping him in that rocking chair where it’s back and forth — and got him guessing a little bit. They’ve done a nice job with him. I’m sure he’s feeling pressure to do something.”

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Wacha, Rookie Relievers And Thankfully A Passed Ball

While Michael Wacha didn’t come close to a no-hitter during Saturday’s Game Two of the NLCS, there were no complaints. Instead, it was just continued awe — of him as well as rookie relievers Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal.

Photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Photos: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The quartet (plus Randy Choate, who tripled his production to three pitches in Game Two) shut down the Dodgers in a no-room-for-error 1-0 Cardinals win, as the Cardinals managed to score with their only hits of the day being a first inning triple and fifth inning double.

It was the first 1-0 Cardinals postseason victory since that guy hugging Wacha in the picture at left beat the Phillies in Game Five of the 2011 NLDS.

Pitching really was the story of the game, as it has been whenever Wacha starts. And while he gave up five hits, scattered through four innings, he struck out eight — none bigger than the last.

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Letter To The (Now) Cardinals Enemy: Skip Schumaker

Dear Skip,

Ah, yes indeed, our dearest and beloved Skippy! Congratulations should be in order first of all, to you and your Dodgers on making it to the National League Championship Series. Way to go!

LOS ANGELES DODGERS WORKOUTYou guys definitely have had quite a season, from being in last place in the National League West on June 30 to being the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot when you won your division — and the team definitely knew how to celebrate that accomplishment, right? Then you took care of the Braves in the NLDS rather easily in four games.

Which leads us to where we are today: Dodgers vs. Cardinals in the NLCS for the first time since 1985, first team to four wins moves to the World Series while the other team goes home.

Should be quite the match-up. As you are well aware, it’s the third straight year for the Cards in the NLCS — and your third straight year there too. But, adored as you still are among Cardinals fans, we’re rooting that you’ve had your last celebration in 2013. We have to, unapologetically.

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Going To The NLCS? Here Are Details

After beating the Pittsburgh Pirates in a winner-take-all Game 5, the St. Louis Cardinals advance to the best-of-seven 2013 National League Championship Series that starts Friday in St. Louis against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

With the best record in the National League at the end of the regular season, the Cardinals have home field advantage throughout the series.

2013_nlcs.jpgThe Cardinals are making their 10th appearance in the postseason since 2000 and the 26th postseason appearance in franchise history (#PostCards).

A very limited number of NLCS tickets may be available. For updated ticket availability, visit

Here are details on how fans can enjoy postseason baseball in St. Louis.

Game Schedule & Highlights

NLCS Game 1 – Friday, Oct. 11
Busch Stadium – 7:37 p.m. Central Time on TBS

  • 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Pre-Game Pep Rally in Ballpark Village Parking Lot
    • Live Music from That ’80s Band, entertainment, prizes, Fredbird, Team Fredbird, 2011 World Series trophy and more
    • Former Cardinal pitcher and current FOX Sports Midwest broadcaster Rick Horton will sign autographs from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
    • Budweiser Clydesdales will be staged in the Ballpark Village Lot
  • Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
  • 40,000 fans receive a Cardinals Rally Towel, courtesy of Phillips 66
  • Pre-Game Ceremony starts at approximately 7 p.m.
    • Budweiser Clydesdales will parade the warning track
    • Introduction of both teams to the line and introduction of Cardinals Hall of Famers
    • Colors presented by Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop C Honor Guard
    • Cardinal Hall of Famer Bob Gibson and current Cardinals Jason Motte and Adam Wainwright will throw out the ceremonial first pitches. Each threw the final out of a Cardinals World Series Championship (Gibson ’67, Wainwright ’06, Motte ’11).
  • “God Bless America” will be sung by Generald Wilson, retired Navy Petty Officer 1st Class, during the 7th Inning Stretch

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Division Series Times Through Saturday Announced

Major League Baseball today announced the start times for all Division Series games through Saturday. TBS will exclusively televise up to 18 of the 20 potential Division Series games, while MLB Network will carry two Division Series games – one on Friday, October 4, and the other on Monday, October 7.

3471__nlds-primary-2013The National League Central Champion St. Louis Cardinals will host the winner of the National League Wild Card Game (either the Pittsburgh Pirates or the Cincinnati Reds) in Game 1 of the N.L. Division Series at Busch Stadium on Thursday, October 3, at 5:07 p.m. (ET)/4:07 p.m. (CT).

In the evening, the N.L. East Champion Atlanta Braves will host the N.L. West-winning Los Angeles Dodgers with an 8:37 p.m. (ET) first pitch in Game 1 of the NLDS at Turner Field. Both of Thursday’s games will be exclusively televised by TBS.

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What’s to Make of the Cardinals Last 14 Games?

Think back to two weeks ago this morning, July 26.

We were feeling good, right? The Cardinals just swept the Phillies the night before for their fourth straight win, were 62-37 and lead the National League Central by 2 1/2 games over the Pirates. They were starting an 11-game road trip to Atlanta, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati followed by a four-game series at Busch Stadium against Dodgers — the chance to challenge themselves against the two other NL division leaders and the two Central contenders.

questionWe’d see what the Cardinals were made of during this stretch, see how they stacked up against their competition. Bring it on, right?

And now here we are.

This morning the Cardinals are 66-48 after last night’s 5-1 loss, in second place in the NL Central four games behind the Pirates. In the last two weeks, those important 15 games, they went 4-11 and had a season-high seven-game losing streak. The only series they won was against the Reds, the only team that trails them. Swept by the Braves. Losers of four of five to the Pirates, three of four to the Dodgers.

So what to make of this test?

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Hopefully, Cardinals, That Will Be The Only Star Wars Night

What’s that saying — it’s all fun and games until somebody takes a line drive off the elbow?

Westbrook 8-7

Yes, Jake, we felt the same way. (Photo: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Yeah. That was Star Wars Night at Busch Stadium. Two pitches, a Carl Crawford liner, Shelby Miller out of the game.

Then there were the nine runs allowed by Jake Westbrook (including six during his first inning of relief), four allowed by Keith Butler and four RBI by Skip Schumaker as the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 13-4.

But, hey, Rob Johnson pitched! Yes, the Cards backup catcher faced Dodgers relief pitcher Paco Rodriguez — and got a strikeout. (Not even our blog namesake ever got a K in his five career innings pitched.) It was the first time a Cardinal position player took the mound since Mr. Schumaker himself, back on Aug. 23, 2011, coincidentally against the Dodgers (and our namesake had a role in that game as well).

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Cardinals Frustrate Yet Again

Remember July 25? That was the last time the Cardinals won a close game, as they beat the Phillies 3-1 for a sweep. In the 12 games since then, of course, the Cards have only won three times — when they scored 13, 13 and 15 runs.

frustration20logoYet chances to break that streak were plenty last night in the 3-2 loss to the Dodgers. The Cards had eight hits — one more than the Dodgers — as every starter but Daniel Descalso had one (and Matt Carpenter had two) but they left eight runners on base and grounded into one double play.

And once again bunting haunted them, as Carlos Beltran made the curious decision to sacrifice Adron Chambers and Carpenter up from first and second in the seventh inning — a move that, given Mike Matheny’s non-answer when asked about it during post-game press conference pretty much told the story anyway about who actually decided that was a bunting situation. (All he would say was “Sometimes we put a bunt on. Sometimes we do it on our own,” and that pretty much said it wasn’t him.) And then Jon Jay attempted to bunt in the eighth when David Freese was hit by a Paco Rodriguez pitch — and was unsuccessful.


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