Congrats, Cardinals, 2011 NL Champs!
After a “fun-filled” regular season, complete with injuries to your #1 pitcher, #1 hitter, #1 outfield cleanup hitter (twice!), and your #2 pitcher starting 1-7, you get a slot in the playoffs on the last day, clinching your spot after you are done playing your last game. 25 times you lost in your last at bat, 13 time with the opponent getting a walk off win. But you perservered, and you made it. For the privilege of playing the #1 team in the National League, the Philadelphia Phillies.
But that didn’t stop you either. You took down their #1 leftie, Cliff Lee, then your aforementioned #2 starter (now #1 by attrition) pitches a 3 hit gem against the Cy Young winning pitcher for the Phillies, Roy Halladay. And you did it with only 1 run being scored for your team, and in the Phillies’ back yard. Quite an ending to the series, and an exclamation mark to put on your season.
But you weren’t done yet. Ahead of you was the winner of your own division, the formidable Milwaukee Brewers, having one of the greatest seasons in their history. Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder head up their baseball crushing lineup, representing one of the fiercest offensive teams in the National League. But everyone forgot one thing, who was the #1 offense in the National League this year? That’s right, the St. Louis Cardinals. And what a series you had. You leveled a couple of offensive displays in Miller Park that lots of people aren’t going to forget soon. At the end of the series, you answered every onslaught that the Brewers gave you, and they gave you some doozies. But you perservered.
Your Bullpen might be the biggest heroes on the team. For once, the starters only pitched 46% of the innings in the series for you, and the Bullpen cleaned it up. Keep up the good work, you have the AL’s #1 offensive team ahead of you, starting Wednesday. Enjoy this now, but get ready for the coming battles. I know you have it in you.
Jayson Stark had a great roundup of the Cardinals today, along with a stellar video highlight of game 6. Check it out: ESPN.com (Jayson Stark): Cardinals’ wild run to World Series