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Cardinals' youth serves notice in Series loss

Cardinals' youth serves notice in Series loss

Cardinals' youth serves notice in Series loss

BOSTON -- Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter didn't look over his shoulder Wednesday night at a celebration 95 years in the making.

Carpenter didn't bother to look at the elated Red Sox in a group pogo hug that broke out after Koji Uehara's nasty 81-mph changeup darted down and away from his bat for the strikeout that ended the World Series. He simply took the seemingly endless stroll to the dugout. It was the walk of defeat, after a 6-1 decision that ended the Series in six games. But Carpenter hopes it's the beginning of a long, hard trip back to a Fall Classic that will end with the Cards -- full of youthful contributors, like himself -- jumping in jubilation.

"There's one thing that was said, 'Remember how this feels,'" Carpenter said. "I know everybody's going to remember how this feels. That'll be something when we get after it in Spring Training. We'll think about this as we look to the future, because it's not good now."

It was the Cards' second World Series appearance in three years, and there is every reason to believe more are possible. Consider that starting pitcher Michael Wacha, who struggled on Wednesday (six runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings) but had much to do with the Cards being in the Series, is just 22. Five of the six relievers who didn't give up a run the rest of the way -- Lance Lynn, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal -- are 25 or younger.

The future is bright, even if it didn't seem that way in Beantown.

"There's been a lot of talk about that, and rightfully so," manager Mike Matheny said. "You look at the young arms. We've got experience behind the plate [Yadier Molina] and in left [Matt Holliday] and right [Carlos Beltran, who is eligible for free agency]. We've got a lot of young players out there. There are a lot of things to be excited about moving forward."

The challenge for a team that has accomplished so much in such a short period is not taking postseason trips and World Series opportunities for granted. The Cardinals appear to be well ahead in that game.

Lynn has been in the Series twice before his 26th birthday, and Carpenter was part of an NLCS and a World Series in his only two big league seasons. Starting pitcher Joe Kelly and shortstop Pete Kozma, both 25, and starter Shelby Miller, 23 (a forgotten man in the postseason after the emergence of Wacha and Kelly), have seen postseason time the last two seasons. All first-year players Wacha, Martinez, 22, Rosenthal, 23, Siegrist, 24, and Maness, 25, Siegrist, 24, know is finishing the season in the Fall Classic.

Pitching is a key part of the optimism. When the Cards were behind on Wednesday -- outside of 38-year-old Randy Choate, who walked the only batter he faced -- they trusted their youth.

"You've got to go out there, throw up zeros, try to do your job and swing the momentum back to our side," Siegrist said. "Our bullpen did a good job of that.

"There's a lot of great talent and this is an awesome group of guys. Getting back is a definite possibility."

Left fielder Matt Holliday, who has made five postseason trips and three Series appearances in 10 seasons, believe the young players are fine.

"We found out a lot about a lot of our young players," Holliday said. "They really stepped up and pitched, and played at an elite level in big situations. I think we've got a lot of talent coming back. I think they've got a decision in the front office with some of our guys, but we have a lot of young players that are really, really talented."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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