ST. LOUIS -- Though he has added plenty of unwanted tension along the way, Trevor Rosenthal joined select Cardinals company on Sunday when he nailed down the team's 9-6 win with his 40th save of this season.
Rosenthal, in his first full season in that role, becomes the fifth closer in franchise history to reach that benchmark, joining Jason Isringhausen, Bruce Sutter, Jason Motte and Lee Smith. Rosenthal also nudges his way back atop the National League saves leaderboard, matching Atlanta's Craig Kimbrel, who secured his fourth 40-win season last week.
"I don't really think about those things coming into the year, but it's definitely special," Rosenthal said afterward. "Obviously, being a part of a team that wins a lot of games helps to get in that position. As a player, to be fortunate enough to be pitching in winning games and a player that they trust in those situations is pretty big, and it's special."
Along the way, Rosenthal has blown just five saves despite complicating several opportunities with walks and hits. He has a 1.433 WHIP, a 3.60 ERA and six losses, but also the unwavering backing of his manager, who has resisted making a closer change along the way.
"That's a huge number, and it has been a lot of work to get him there, on his part," manager Mike Matheny. "He's continued to answer the bell. He comes out and has a nice outing today. He's been on the shelf here for a while, and that's been nice. He should be very proud of what he's been able to do this season."
With this milestone met before September, Rosenthal has a chance to make a run at the Cardinals' single-season record of 47 saves, set by Smith in 1991 and matched by Isringhausen in 2004.
Rosenthal doesn't focus much on individual milestones, but he is appreciative that the company that he is now among has helped him reach this one. He and Sutter spent many days talking about the mentality of a closer during Spring Training. Those conversations have continued with Isringhausen and Motte throughout the season.
"All of those guys have been big in giving their advice," Rosenthal said. "I think the organization, in general, does a good job of having the older guys help out. For me, it's been a great experience."
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.