ST. LOUIS -- Though the National League Championship Series closed with a runaway 9-0 win by the Cardinals at Busch Stadium on Friday night, St. Louis was quick to recognize amid its celebration that the Game 6 score was hardly indicative of how tough an opponent the Dodgers had been.
While it was the Cards who carried a 3-2 NLCS lead home to St. Louis, they took the field on Friday having actually been outscored, 13-12, by the Dodgers in the series. The Redbirds' first two wins had been by one-run margins. Their cushion in a Game 4 victory was just two. The offense had been held to a batting average of .178.
"I think it was the same with Pittsburgh, one of the best staffs in the league. Then we go up against some of the best pitchers in the league," said David Freese, one of four players to reach base three times on Friday. "I think that just describes how this postseason is going. You look at the other side and it's the same way. Obviously, every year can be defined differently, but this year is the postseason of the pitcher."
"We've faced two really good pitching staffs with the Pirates and the Dodgers," added hitting coach John Mabry. "These guys just kept grinding out at-bats. You know at this time of the year, runs are going to be scarce. They kept battling and grinding and found a way to win."
For all the talk about the contrasting personalities between these two clubs, there was a mutual respect for the seasons each put together. The Dodgers won four out of seven games against the Cardinals during the regular season before St. Louis capitalized on home-field advantage to win four games that mattered more.
While the Dodgers are still seeking their first trip to the World Series since 1988, the Cards have clinched a spot in the Fall Classic for the fourth time in a decade.
"We're excited right now," Adam Wainwright said. "We don't have an opponent yet. We haven't started Game 1 yet, so we're not there yet. But you know what, the fact that we beat the Dodgers, a very good team ... we're excited. We're fired up."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.