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Cardinals continue Cinderella run, will meet division-rival Brewers in NLCS

Oct 8, 2011, 12:52 AM EDT

St Louis Cardinals v Philadelphia Phillies - Game 5 Getty Images

Do you know where the Cardinals were exactly one month ago? Oh, just 6 1/2 games behind the shoo-in Braves in the Wild Card race. Yet in the space of one month, not only did they leapfrog the Braves to win the National League Wild Card, but they also earned a trip to the NLCS by knocking off the heavily-favored Phillies in the division series. Way to mess with the narrative, guys.

It’s often said that the playoffs are a crapshoot and anything can happen over the course of a five-game series. And that’s absolutely true. If the ball bounces your way in October, unexpected things can and usually do happen. Roy Halladay was brilliant in his own right on Friday night and if he got even a little bit of help from his offense, we may have been talking about Cliff Lee facing the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLCS on Sunday. However, Chris Carpenter was just a little bit better and fortunate enough to get the razor-thin margin of support he needed, including some fantastic plays by his defense.

This isn’t to slight the Cardinals at all. The Rays understandably got most of the national attention after topping the Red Sox for the American League Wild Card, but the Cardinals actually had the better record between the two teams in September. With an 18-8 record in in the final month of the season, the Cardinals entered the playoffs as arguably the hottest team in baseball. It’s very easy to dwell on the negative of the high-profile losing team, as we saw with the “collapses” of the Red Sox and Braves and are already witnessing with the losses of the heavily-favored Yankees and Phillies, but the Cardinals are no pushovers. Armed with the league’s best offense, they belong here.

There might be less eyes on the NLCS than there would have been if the Phillies were involved, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fantastic baseball between the Cardinals and Brewers. I don’t think I need to remind you that these teams don’t like each other very much. Those games had playoff-level intensity way back in early August, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us now that a trip to the World Series will be on the line.

  1. spudchukar - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:21 AM

    Yes, this will not be a popular comment here on HBT, but TLR deserves a lot of credit.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:33 AM

      I agree with you. LaRussa is tortured unmercifully on this board and I don’t like it from a baseball fan’s perspective. I have stated it many times that I think he’s a great manager. But, let’s not lose sight of one fact. The Cards’ players won this series, not LaRussa. Managers should never be given too much praise nor too much scorn either way.

      • baccards - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:21 AM

        I think today shows why Stl and TLR can maintain above average performance.. Punto in the starting nine? schumacher in center? trade for Furcal and his mendoza line BA?, Minus Rasmus’s dad..and here they are again

      • stlfan22 - Oct 8, 2011 at 10:52 PM

        Sometimes the Cards manage to win even though TLR makes bonehead moves. He’s run out of pitchers on more than one occasion because he tends to overthink sometimes. Luckily it didn’t matter that he had DiScalso pinch run for Freese who was one of the most conistent hitters in the series. His personnel swappage can be very annoying and it isn’t always needed.

    • Utley's Hair - Oct 8, 2011 at 1:42 AM

      Congrats to your Cards, Taterbird. Good luck against the Brewers.

      • richeich - Oct 8, 2011 at 9:39 AM

        Bad luck to the Brewers!

    • paperlions - Oct 8, 2011 at 11:24 AM

      The players deserve a lot of credit….especially the bullpen that bailed out TLR in game 2 after TLR decided to start their 4th best starter in game 1 and Carpenter on 3 days rest.

      If you can outline how TLR put the players in the best possible position to succeed, I’m all for giving him credit (and I am grateful that he stayed out of the way last night, except for the silly substitution of Descalso, luckily no more offense was needed)….but it was the PLAYERS that were great during the last month and the series.

  2. hueylewis - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:23 AM

    Cardinals have been very lucky these past few weeks. They blew games against the likes of the Mets, Astros and Cubs – yet are headed to the NLCS.

    I agree this will not get ratings for TBS at all. Two clubs that have an interest in their area markets only. Should be an entertaining NLCS for those that watch. Brewers will be favored and I think the series will go atleast 6 if not 7 games.

    • staffordsyear - Oct 8, 2011 at 5:19 AM

      “Two clubs that have an interest in their area markets only”

      Brewers maybe but cardinal nation is alive and well…oh and we travel very well too.

    • paperlions - Oct 8, 2011 at 11:39 AM

      As opposed to the Phillies and D-backs? The Cardinals fan base is spread wider than either of those teams because they were the only team within several hundred miles (and some directions 1000 miles) of StL for decades, and KMOX had a transmitter capable of reaching all of those areas….so for decades the only games people heard on the radio in a huge portion of the middle US were Cardinal games…and that fandom has been passed down and still exists.

  3. baccards - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:28 AM

    they played 162 games.. won 90..lucky late, lucky early doesn’t matter.. was a thumbs down for your name..

  4. cardsfanstucknbmore - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    Thanks to all three of the classy Philly Phans who posted first. It was a great series and hard fought on both ends. It’s a tough pill to swallow as a Phils fan I’m sure but with any luck at least you will be able to say that you lost to the eventual WS champs. If you’all had won I would be routing for the Phillies to win it all and I trust a portion of the Philadelphia fan base will be doing the same for us. Always route for the team that beat you. I look forward to many hard fought games with you guys again next year. Hopefully we can do it and maybe just maybe we will get some more credit once we do. It’s not like our staff is horrible and it helps to have the best offense to support your guys on the mound. To be honest in the past I’ve not had much respect for the Philly fans but the three of you have changed my thoughts. Thanks again for the classy retrospective point of view and thanks more for such an intense series. With more respect than can be expressed thanks from Cardinal nation.

    • halladaysbiceps - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:40 AM

      I will be pulling for the Cards to win. I like the way your team plays. They hardly ever give up an at-bat. I have been an NL guy my whole life and always pull for the NL over the AL because of the obvious. Good luck.

      • baccards - Oct 8, 2011 at 3:07 AM

        thanks, Cepts as a Card fan, on a side note == NL is the bastion of baseball – gator has it right with designaterhitterball..just not the same
        The friendship between Roy and Chris shows us that how the world works does not rely on who scores the most runs

  5. hueylewis - Oct 8, 2011 at 2:53 AM

    Garcia vs Greinke in game one. Brewers have been very good at home against left handed starters, 26-19 over the last 45.

  6. cptnew1 - Oct 8, 2011 at 3:00 AM

    As a lifelong Cards fan, gotta say what a game by Carp, what a series. Congrats to the Phils on a great season, and I hope that Howards injury isn’t as bad as it looks. At least he tried to run out a ground ball. (Unlike some other superstar first baseman I see play quite a bit.)

    • baccards - Oct 8, 2011 at 3:45 AM

      If you are refering to Mr Pujols as the superstar you see play a quite a bit,does that include the nagging leg injuries, the stolen bases, the 1st to 3rds? I do hope as a Cardinal fan,lifelong, you are truly that.. And why refer to him as a superstar if you think he is a sluggard

  7. cptnew1 - Oct 8, 2011 at 4:12 AM

    LIttle bit of sarcasm. I’m well aware of how good he is. I’m also aware that he does tend to jog to first, run thorough stops signs, and stare at home runs. That being said he is still the heart and soul of Cardinal Nation, the best player in StL since Musial (my opinion) and I certainly don’t want to see him in any other uniform.

  8. cintiphil - Oct 8, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I only have two things to say. You Philthy’s lost a lot of money for me. I figured Halladay, at home on a must win day. Got to bet them. But I was fooled by the birds. Great job Carpenter. And, how do you think Rasmus & Toronto feel now? They gave up two of baseballs best pitchers, and ended up with Colby. I am not betting on the next series.

    • cintiphil - Oct 8, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      One more thing before I get out of here. The cards played a great series, but now you have to face the Brewers, at home. They hit much better than the Phills did in this series. You will not have a cake walk, and might be packing it up after the pennant series. I picked the Brewers in April to go to the W-S, and I still think they will. I will take the Brewers in 5 or 6..

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