Monday, October 7, 2013

It's Cardinals Baseball Craziness (Again) in the Postseason...

Wow. That was a close one.  Thank you Cardinals for staying alive!

Every October, my husband teases me about being a 'fair weathered' St. Louis Cardinals fan...or at least, he claims I don't really get into it until the Postseason.  What he is forgetting, is that (a) since we live in Cleveland, we don't actually get TV coverage for most of the regular season Cards games and therefore (b) I am just as content to follow the games on my little iphone app....I know, I know, nerd alert.  In other words, my 'fan-following' is slightly more discreet than his (I don't plan our entire calendar around the season as he does with Michigan football each fall)...Nevertheless...

Regardless of where we have lived, we have always supported our local teams (Cubs, Royals, Red Sox, Braves, Indians, etc...) until the Cardinals come to town.  I will forever be a loyal fan.  This is just what growing up in St. Louis does to you...Not sure if it is from one too many Imo's pizzas, trips up the Arch, or Budweisers, but you can't really shake it out of your system.

Tonight, the Cardinals came frighteningly close to elimination, when they pulled off a slim 2-1 win over the Pirates to even the series 2-2.  Luckily, with home field advantage, they head back to St. Louis on Wednesday, October 9th for Game 5 of NLDS.

As I was skimming over recent articles about my hometown team favorite, I discovered this interesting piece from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  The following article includes season summaries, analyses, and tidbits about the St. Louis Cardinals, from sports writers across the country...some impressive and interesting statistics included (this is baseball, after all!).  I also included a few links to other interesting articles...

Oh, and if you need to get into the spirit with some Cards photos...check out my post from last fall...

Enjoy, Cards fans!

Tipsheet: Cards earn national media love

October 03, 2013 3:20 pm  •  By Jeff Gordon

As our colleague Bernie Miklasz notes, the Pittsburgh Pirates are destiny’s darlings this year. Pretty much everybody outside Cardinal Nation is pulling for them to take a deep playoff run.
Their storybook season deserves a storybook finish, right?
But the Cardinals are garnering lots of respect for overcoming a slew of injuries to win the National League Central title. The loss of Chris Carpenter, Jason Motte, Jaime Garcia, Rafael Furcal and then Allen Craig turned the 2013 season into a transition year.
One young player after another stepped up to fill a void. They learned how to win on the fly, following the lead of champions like Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday.
Here is what the pundits are writing about the Cardinals as they head into postseason play once again:
Marc Normandin, Sports on Earth: “There are many people -- none of them from St. Louis -- who are tired of the Cardinals. They organization has been incredibly successful, both historically and currently, so that Cards fatigue is understandable. They've produced a winning record in 13 of the last 14 seasons, making it to the World Series three times (winning twice), and reached four additional National League Championship Series on top of that. If you're hoping that eventually the players that power the Cardinals' core will get old and vanish, well, that can certainly happen. Matt Holliday won't be around forever, Carlos Beltran is a free agent after this year, and we've already possibly seen the end of Chris Carpenter. The thing is, though, that St. Louis isn't going anywhere, because the pieces of the next core, the pieces that will form the next great Cardinals team, are already in place, and, in many cases, already in the playoffs. You're likely already familiar with some of them, as they've been key pieces in this season's push for the best record in baseball.”

Mike Bauman, “You have to like this about the St. Louis Cardinals. They are the epitome of strength and stability, and they are on their fourth closer of the season. They are an established force -- with two World Series championships in the past seven seasons, and the only National League team to have winning records in the past six seasons. Right, and they have used 20 rookies this season. As the Redbirds approach the opener of their NL Division Series matchup against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday at Busch Stadium, there is no doubt that they have more experience at this sort of thing than the Bucs, who are making their first postseason appearance in 21 years. But the Cards' roster will be dotted with young and relatively inexperienced pitchers in crucial positions: Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal, Carlos Martinez, Kevin Siegrist, Seth Maness. None of these pitchers has reached age 25. Some of them are closer to teenaged than 25. The Cardinals, unofficially, will carry 10 rookies on their playoff roster, six of whom will be pitchers. This would be astounding in other circumstances, but it is business as usual for the 2013 St. Louis club. The Cards have depended heavily on rookie pitchers throughout. When other clubs do this, they are typically referred to as ‘a work in progress,’ and their results vary dramatically. When the Cardinals do it, they emerge with the best record in the NL.”
Tim Kurkjian, “Nearly 40 percent of the Cardinals innings this year were thrown by rookies. They won 37 games, had an ERA under 3.20 and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning. Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Trevor Rosenthal and a few others are good enough to pitch their way through the pressure. Talent is often more important than experience. Plus, Rosenthal and Joe Kelly, in his second season, got a taste of the postseason in 2012.”
Jon Heyman, “Baseball's most consistent winner/October threat over the last decade didn't disappoint, posting the best record in the National League. Pluses: ‘Everyone's a hitter’ in their lineup, an NL scout said . . . Adam Wainwright is a bona fide ace with excellent postseason experience . . . Its history is special, and this team has shown it can hold up through October.”
Jayson Stark, “The Cardinals have balance, toughness, the best catcher in baseball (Yadier Molina), the best lineup in their league and an ingrained culture that breeds winning. ‘There's a reason,’ said one NL executive, ‘they've been there the last three years.’ But I worry about Allen Craig and their rotation questions beyond Adam Wainwright.”
Stan McNeal, “Remember this number: .330. That was the Cardinals' batting average with runners in scoring position, and it was the best in the majors over the past 40 seasons. Against the Pirates, the Cardinals weren't quite as proficient with RISP, but their .313 average was plenty robust. The Cardinals have been without the majors' leading hitter with RISP, Allen Craig (.454), since Sept. 4, but they hardly missed him. The Cardinals led the NL in scoring in the final month, and they finished first for the season. Rookie Matt Adams stepped into Craig's cleanup spot and hit .326 with a team-leading eight homers in September. A couple of other Matts, Holliday and Carpenter, also finished strong. Holliday hit .378 in September; Carpenter, the NL leader in runs (126) and hits (199), hit .349 over the final month. And then there's MVP candidate Yadier Molina, the league's best catcher.”
Cliff Corcoran, “Stat to Know: 2.53/8.10. Those are the respective ERAs at Busch Stadium this year for St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright and Pittsburgh’s A.J. Burnett, who, if this series goes five games, should get two starts each at that ballpark. Wainwright’s ERA, which came in 17 starts at Busch, is impressive but becomes more so if you toss out his 2 IP, 9 R disaster start against the Reds from Aug. 28. The result is a 1.89 ERA in his other 16 home starts, in which he averaged more than 7 1/3 innings per outing. That’s the pitcher the Pirates have to beat, a true ace who should finish in the top five in the Cy Young voting for the third time in his last four seasons. Meanwhile, Burnett was 5-7 with a 4.22 ERA on the road this season and has allowed 10 runs over 7 1/3 innings in his last two appearances in St. Louis.”

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