Mujica acquisition marked turning point of 'pen

Mujica acquisition marked turning point of 'pen

SAN FRANCISCO -- The move seemed underwhelming at the time, but the Cardinals' acquisition of reliever Edward Mujica at the Trade Deadline turned out to be the point at which the club's bullpen began its turn from liability to strength.

Mujica, acquired on July 31 from the Marlins for Minor League infielder Zack Cox, began his tenure in St. Louis with 18 straight scoreless appearances. He settled into the seventh-inning setup role with ease, allowing manager Mike Matheny a better bridge from his starters to his two late-inning righties.

"He is someone who we identified as the right fit, not only from a statistical sense, but also on who he was as a person and the teammate he was," general manager John Mozeliak said before Game 2 on Monday. "After I made that trade, I remember I got a couple of texts from other GMs, and they said, 'Great guy.' That was really the key for us, because it was such a seamless transition for him into the seventh-inning role, and he really dominated at it."

Mujica, who is participating in his first postseason, had not had as defined a role in Miami as he has since arriving in St. Louis. He credits that consistency in usage, as well as his manager's belief in him, as reasons behind his immediate and sustained success as a Cardinal.

"The confidence when I get here, the confidence Matheny gave to me, is amazing," said Mujica, who struck out the side in his inning of relief in Sunday's 6-4 Game 1 win. "He told me what was going to be [the role] for me. And I tried to put my mind in that situation. I am so happy right now to be on this team, because we're just playing pretty good ball right now."