“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 →
This time, though, it was on a stage far brighter — and louder — than he’s ever known before. You wouldn’t know that from watching him, though.
Just 18 months removed from college ball, Wacha was given the daunting task of beating the fairy-tale Pirates at home with the Cardinals’ season on the line. No pressure, or anything.
Just five months removed from his very first big league start, Wacha, who had made a couple trips back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis, took the mound with a rare combination of wide-eyed innocence and unflinching competitiveness. He wasn’t afraid of the rowdy crowd, the high stakes, or the hungry lineup he’d face. Perhaps he didn’t know to be scared. Perhaps he’s just that mature beyond his 22 years.
He was also just 13 days removed from his last start. You know, that one-hit affair with the Washington Nationals that could have been no-hitter, save for the infield hit with two outs in the ninth. That performance may have given Mike Matheny the extra confidence he needed to hand this rookie the ball on Monday.
Like Matheny has said before, a lot of things could have gone wrong. Fortunately for him, they did nothing of the sort. Continue reading →
With the Pirates handily beating the Reds in last night’s Wild Card game, they are now set to return to face the team that snatched the division title out from underneath them. A team they’ve beaten 10 times this season, including four in a row during one abnormally difficult stretch for the now NLC Champs. The Pirates have been a thorn in the Cardinals’ side all season. And it’s not over yet.
Sure, the Reds would have likely been an easier challenge. They seemed to run out of steam about a a week ago. Not to mention, the Cardinals have fared far better against Cincy than Pittsburgh in 2013. Avoiding the pesky Pirates in another five-game series would have boosted the Cardinals’ chances.
But, as they say, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. And between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati? The best team is headed to St. Louis.
One more time this season, the Cardinals better be doing their homework on the Pirates.
Two games up with six games left and a magic number of five definitely means the numbers are on the Cardinals side for being Central champs for the first time since 2009.
Even if the Cardinals go 3-3 against the barely-hanging-on-to-a-wild-card-possibility Nationals and the Chicago Cubs, the Pirates or Reds would need to go 5-1 in their final six games just to tie and thus force a one-game playoff for the division title. And that’s definitely an “or” situation — there’s no way both teams could both go 5-1, given they play each other next Friday through Sunday.
Interestingly, with the Nats five games back in the wild card race and also with six left to play, both the Pirates and Reds would benefit from the Cardinals winning tonight. Think they’ll be cheering them on during their respective games against the Cubs (Pirates) and Mets (Reds)? Scoreboard watching, certainly.
Here we are, Saturday, Oct. 1. The September to remember is over. Now it’s October baseball.
Yes, the Cardinals are one of only eight teams left. No more looking at standings or scoreboard watching. The calendar page flipped, and so does the focus.
The National League Division Series starts late this afternoon, with game one between the Cardinals and Phillies at 4:07 p.m. Central Time. The goal remains the same as what got the Cardinals to this point: keep winning. But let’s start small. Let’s just win one game first.
Oh, sure — we all want them to win more than one. But, as we learned in “Bull Durham” and from countless cliche-spouting baseball players through the years, you’ve got to play them one game at a time. Win one, that’s all I ask.
Besides, an NL Central team winning just one game in the NLDS has been a rare thing since the Cardinals beat the Padres five years ago. The 2007 and 2008 Central champ Cubs? Swept each year. 2009 Cardinals? Same story. 2010 Reds? Uh, yeah. By these Phillies. The only NL Central team to win a game in the past five years was the wild card Brewers in 2008 — beating the Phillies 4-1 in game three.
This is the fifth straight season the Phillies are in the playoffs, and they’ve won the division series for four consecutive years. The last time they even lost a division series game was Oct. 8, 2009, game two against the Rockies. And of course we remember what today’s starter, Roy Halladay, did in his postseason debut last year against the Reds — we loved it. (We laughed at Brandon Phillips being the last out in the no-hitter.)