Back in the postseason for a fifth straight year, the 100-win Cardinals return to October with an eye on capturing the 12th World Series championship in franchise history. The Cardinals will open the National League Division Series in St. Louis on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS) against either the Pirates or Cubs. With that best-of-five series on tap, here is a look at five reasons why the Cardinals can win the World Series for the third time in 10 years:
Garcia, who has emerged a key member of the Cardinals' rotation after starting just 16 games from 2013-14, was announced on Monday as one of 12 finalists for Best Bounceback Player. Martinez, an All-Star in his first season as a full-time starter, is up for Best Breakout Player; while Molina, winner of seven straight Gold Glove Awards, is among the nominees for the Best Defensive Player.
ST. LOUIS -- As a reward for good behavior and good grades, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter surprised a student at St. Louis' Lift for Life Academy with tickets to Game 1 of the Cardinals' National League Division Series. The Cardinals open postseason play at Busch Stadium on Friday against the Pirates or Cubs at 5:30 p.m. CT on TBS.
Posing as the school's principal, Carpenter called the student to his office, then congratulated him on being nominated by his teachers to receive the postseason tickets. Carpenter also presented the student with a personalized jersey and postseason hat.
ST. LOUIS -- Before Robin Ventura became a two-time All-Star, six-time Gold Glove Award winner and manager of the White Sox, he was an occasional babysitter for Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday.
Ventura, who acknowledged that he'll have a rooting interest as Holliday's Cardinals open the postseason with a National League Division Series matchup against the Pirates or Cubs on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (TBS), grew close to the Holliday family during his time playing under head coach Tom Holliday, Matt's father, at Oklahoma State University from 1985-88.
ATLANTA -- After a weekend of resting their regulars and scripting controlled appearances for others, the Cardinals closed the 162-game portion of the season Sunday and turned their attention to accomplishing a new set of goals.
The Cardinals were officially crowned as kings of what has been baseball's toughest division this season with an 11-1 win over the Pirates on Wednesday. A 2-0 loss to the Braves on Sunday completed an Atlanta sweep, but this was a series much more about preparation than it was immediate results. After spending six months holding off the Cubs and Pirates in the National League Central, the Cards will now face one of the two division foes in Game 1 of the NL Division Series at Busch Stadium on Friday on TBS.
Major League Baseball on Monday announced the start times for Division Series games through Sunday. FS1 and MLB Network will exclusively televise all American League Division Series games, while TBS will exclusively telecast all National League Division Series games. All postseason games will be telecast in Canada by Sportsnet.
In advance of the Cardinals' fifth postseason trip in as many years, general manager John Mozeliak sat down with MLB.com for a wide-ranging question-and-answer session. Here are some of his thoughts on how the season, notable individual performers and what's ahead as the organization seeks its 12th World Series championship:
MLB.com: If you had known before the season started that you would lose your ace, three-hole hitter, cleanup hitter, setup man and several other contributors, what would your expectations have been?
Cardinals righty delivers third solid relief outing
By Nick Suss
ATLANTA -- Mike Matheny was never nervous about Adam Wainwright's curveball.
"I saw him from his very first bullpen; the first time he threw his curveball he was sharp," the Cardinals manager said after a 6-0 loss to the Braves in Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday afternoon. "That's something that he falls out of bed throwing well."
By Mark Bowman and Nick Suss
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Finishing off the regular season on a high note, the Braves completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals with a 2-0 victory in the second game of a doubleheader Sunday at Turner Field. Rookie starter Matt Wisler turned in a gem for the Braves, finishing one out shy of his first career complete game and shutout.
While the Braves' season is over, the Cardinals move on to the National League Division Series and will host the winner of Wednesday's NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser between the Pirates and Cubs in Pittsburgh. Game 1 of the NLDS will be played Friday at Busch Stadium.
ST. LOUIS -- A postseason participant for the fifth straight season, the Cardinals have already accomplished something never before done in franchise history. But this is a club conditioned not just to play into October but also deep into it.
The Cardinals, who finished the season with the Majors' best record, are seeking to become the first team since the Braves (1995-99) to advance to the League Championship Series in five straight years. The club is also eyeing a third trip to the World Series in a five-year span. They have thus far advanced to the Fall Classic once under manager Mike Matheny.
The Cardinals outfielder, who suffered a concussion in an outfield collision with Peter Bourjos on Monday, passed every necessary test to return to the field, but said he needed to wait for his players' union paperwork to clear before he could return. Everything was in order Sunday, and as a result, Piscotty returned to the lineup, batting second and playing right field in a 6-0 loss in Game 1 of a doubleheader with the Braves.
Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Before they were postseason bound: Cardinals
Here is everything you need to know about the Cardinals, who are heading to the postseason for the fifth straight season.
Lance Lynn, RHP
Born: Indianapolis, Ind.
HS: Brownsburg (Ind.) High School
College: University of Mississippi
Minors: Batavia (A-), Quad Cities (A), Palm Beach (A+), Springfield (AA), Memphis (AAA)
• He played on the Brownsburg Little League team that appeared in the 1999 Little League World Series, competing against future Major Leagues Colby and Cory Rasmus, as well as Stephen Fife in the tournament.
• He was teammates with future Major Leaguer Drew Storen at Brownsburg. Lynn was named the state of Indiana's Gatorade Player of the Year in 2005.
• Lynn set strikeout records at Ole Miss, both in the single-season (146) and career (332) categories. He was teammates with Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart.
By Mark Bowman and Nick Suss
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
ATLANTA -- Shelby Miller ended a maddening four-month winless streak and frustrated his former Cardinals teammates over the eight scoreless innings he completed while helping the Braves claim a 6-0 win in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader at Turner Field.
Miller scattered three hits and needed just 110 pitches to complete his eight innings, which were supported by Adonis Garcia's first multihomer game. This marked the third time the Braves right-hander received at least six runs of suppor and first since he had last earned a win on May 17.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Postseason Quiz: Which NL team should you root for?
By Gemma Kaneko |
It's officially October, and it's time to start making some decisions about your fandom.We know that choosing things is hard, so we've simplified the process with a handy set of quizzes. Today: Which National League team should you root for?
ATLANTA -- The Cardinals' already complicated center-field situation may become even more so as the team weighs the viability of Randal Grichuk as an option at that position.
Manager Mike Matheny acknowledged Saturday that playing Grichuk in center field "might be a bit of a push with his limited ability to throw still." While Grichuk, still working his way back to full strength after a mid-August shutdown related to a right elbow injury, has been throwing from a distance of 150 feet during pregame work, he is not yet entirely uninhibited.
ATLANTA -- With the National League Central title and home-field advantage in their pocket, the Cardinals will use this weekend's final regular-season series to ready for the start of their NL Division Series next Friday in St. Louis.
On Friday night at Turner Field, that meant resting several everyday position players and giving a bunch of bench players the opportunity to log a few at-bats. With the organization still sifting through its postseason roster options, how some players perform this weekend could determine whether they fit on the 25-man NLDS roster.
ATLANTA -- Julio Teheran completed his season in impressive fashion and the Braves marred Jaime Garcia's final tuneup for the postseason with a two-run third inning that proved sufficient during Friday night's 4-0 win over the Cardinals at Turner Field.
With the Cardinals resting most of their regulars in preparation for the postseason, Teheran surrendered five hits and escaped multiple scoring threats over six innings. The Braves right-hander concluded a frustration-filled season by notching a 1.62 ERA over his final six starts.
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals, though picked by many to finish as National League Central champs, navigated to that end in an unexpected way as they posted a 100-plus-win season. With the Cards in the postseason for a franchise-record fifth straight season and preparing to host the Pirates or Cubs in the National League Division Series beginning on Oct. 9, here is a look back at five events that changed the season.
ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward grew up in Atlanta and spent the first five seasons of his Major League career as one of the Braves' most popular players. But when he returned to Turner Field on Friday for the first time since being traded to the Cardinals, Heyward was not necessarily feeling sentimental.
Beginning with the November trade that sent Heyward to the Cardinals, the Braves have spent much of this past year overhauling the organization through a flurry of trades. Freddie Freeman, Andrelton Simmons, Julio Teheran and Christian Bethancourt are the only members of Atlanta's current roster who played with Heyward last year.
PITTSBURGH -- With an 11-1 victory over the Pirates in the second game of Wednesday's doubleheader, the Cardinals were crowned kings of what has been baseball's toughest division this season. And now that the National League Central title is theirs, they can turn their attention from holding off the Cubs and Pirates to preparing to host one of those two division foes in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.
The Cardinals, 100-game winners for the ninth time in franchise history, have already wrapped up home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series by virtue of being guaranteed to finish with more wins than any other NL team. It marks the second time in three seasons that the Cardinals can boast of being the NL's best over a 162-game stretch, and the last time, in 2013, the Cardinals parlayed home-field advantage into a trip to the World Series.
PITTSBURGH -- It has been an extraordinary season for the St. Louis Cardinals, so why wouldn't they raise a third consecutive National League Central pennant in extraordinary fashion? That was the case on Wednesday night, when lefty Tyler Lyons filled an emergency with the best start of his career and was backed by Jason Heyward's third-inning grand slam as the Cardinals personally knocked out the Pirates, 11-1.
St. Louis' 100th win officially eliminated the second-place Bucs, who posted their 96th win in the opener of Wednesday's split doubleheader but have to settle for a third straight appearance in the NL Wild Card Game presented by Budweiser. The Cardinals will play the winner of that game in the NL Division Series, which begins on Oct. 9.
You know the Cardinals -- perennial postseason favorites, they've won 19 National League pennants and 11 World Series titles. But do you know which Cardinal you are? Sure, you might not look in the mirror and see Jason Heyward or Matt Carpenter, but that's because you're just not looking hard enough. Let our quiz help you figure it out.
PITTSBURGH -- Before Game 2 of Wednesday's doubleheader, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak had a gut feeling. All season long the Cardinals have been defined by the success of their "next man up" mentality. When one player went down, someone else stepped up.
So perhaps it was fitting that left-hander Tyler Lyons, starting in place of the injured Carlos Martinez, led St. Louis to its National League Central-clinching victory. Lyons fired seven scoreless innings in his longest start since 2013, and set the tone as the Cards rolled to an 11-1 win over the Pirates at PNC Park.
PITTSBURGH -- In a season where so much of the focus has been on who went down and who came up to fill a void, it was Jason Heyward, one of the constants from season start to season end, who uncorked Wednesday's champagne celebration with a mighty grand slam that highlighted a dynamic night from the right fielder.
With the second grand slam of his career, Heyward deflated a PNC Park crowd that had hoped to see the Pirates tighten the National League Central race. Instead, the Cards cruised to an 11-1 win that sealed win No. 100, and set off a party for the official NL Central champs.
Jon Jay used sleight of hand to turn a Pirates run into a pretend ground-rule double
By Gemma Kaneko |
Let's just take a look at Jon Jay's resume for a moment. He played for the University of Miami, was drafted by the Cardinals in 2006, made his debut in '10, is clearly a member of the Magician's Alliance and picked up a World Series ring in '11.