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Watch out, Nationals. Here come the Cardinals!

Oct 5, 2012, 9:30 PM EDT

Matt Holliday Getty Images

The Cardinals won in Atlanta on Friday and will host the Nationals in the NLDS beginning Sunday despite the fact that…

- they got outhit but the Braves 12-6

- they had just two extra-base hits to the Braves’ four

- their hitters failed to draw even a single walk, while their pitchers gave up three

That’s a recipe for a quiet plane ride home. Yet the Cardinals are returning to St. Louis triumphant thanks to some dreadful defense by the Braves — just their fourth three-error game of the year — and their ability to capitalize on mistakes.

Which is what we should have come to expect from these Cardinals. They’re at their best when they’re not very good.

The Cardinals have won two World Series since 2000. The teams that won the championships had the club’s seventh- and 11th-best records of the 12 years. Those Albert Pujols-led clubs won as many as 105 games, yet it was the teams that won 83 games in 2006 in 90 games in 2011 that claimed titles.

There’s no reason this Cardinals team can’t go far, too. While they used their most successful starter in Kyle Lohse today, they still have Adam Wainwright ready to go Sunday. Then they can throw Jaime Garcia at home, where he’s almost always successful, and Chris Carpenter and Lohse on the road.

Offensively, the Cardinals are more than a match for the Nats, scoring 765 runs to Washington’s 731 this year. If they’re still perhaps the lesser team overall, well, that just means they have the Nationals right where they want them.

  1. chill1184 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Dont sleep on these red birds

    • recoveringcubsfan - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:32 AM

      And MLB – be sure to change the Wild Card rules every few years to ensure that a mediocre, 5th or 6th (or hell, let’s let everybody in!) team gets to play a do-or-die game to unseat a team that vastly outplayed them for 162 games.

      The new playoff format has made the regular season even more meaningless. That’s not a good thing.

      And the play-in game is only going to be stomached by fans of the winning team and Bud Selig. Everyone else thinks it’s a shame that a superior team had to lower itself to play a 5th-place team and the superior team lost because random things happen in one-game scenarios. What, then, is the point of playing the regular season, Mr. Selig?

      The Cardinals can be relieved, happy even. But they didn’t win anything. And the further they go in the playoffs, the more unhappy everyone who doesn’t root for them is going to be. Way to go, Bud.

      • chill1184 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:46 AM

        Playoffs has always been a crap shoot thats the nature of the beast. All it takes is for one team to get hot and the others to get cold. The 2011 Cardinals and the Current Super Bowl Champion Giants are your latest examples. Teams that everyone else thought were dead, turning it on at the right time.

      • shea801 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM

        As a Cardinals fan, I agree the format is ridiculous and makes the playoffs a little less special. I, for one, can’t believe the 2012 Cardinals are in the playoffs. that being said, GO REDBIRDS!! ;)

        Look, the Braves were a better team during the season, but oh well. They should have showed it in the one game that should have showcased why they were as good as they were. They didn’t. They got beat offensively and they got beat defensively. Say what you will about the format (it is stupid), but the Braves should have gone into that game with the mindset of ‘Let’s put this baby to bed.’ They didn’t. And now they get to watch the playoffs just like the rest of us.

      • timstl - Oct 6, 2012 at 1:04 PM

        What?

        The new rules make winning the division more relevant. They make the 162 game season more relevant. The Braves didn’t win anything either. They were a wild card team. Which is why they aren’t playing anymore. See? The regular season is MORE relevant- they’d still be in had they won the division.

        I suppose MLB could drop the wild card altogether to put the ultimate emphasis on winning the division, but that’s obviously not going to happen.

      • albertmn - Oct 6, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        Did you recover from the cubs and become a whiny Braves fan?

  2. vtboo41 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:41 PM

    Make sure Holbrook is on the ump crew Cards fans

  3. robmar924 - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:44 PM

    Nats have a lineup full of really good bats and a rotation/bullpen full of really good arms but it would be no shock to see the series come down to a close game 5. Cant wait for this series.

  4. cowartsh - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    This is the result of the idiot selig pushing this one game free for all.

  5. natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Somehow, I suspect the Nats will show up.

    (sarcasm button)

    Should be a pretty good series.

    • natstowngreg - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:02 PM

      The Nats and Cards have played 7 times since the last week of August. The Nats won 3 of 4 at home; the Cards won 2 of 3 at home. Each team won blowouts and close games.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 5, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      I would expect no less Greg. Good luck!

  6. butchhuskey - Oct 5, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    But Matthew, aren’t they the biggest dipwads in the league? Isn’t Yadier Molina a choke artist?????

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 5, 2012 at 11:11 PM

      Correct on both accounts Butch!

    • marteshoes1326 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      Hey Butchhuskey, Yadi is hardly a choke artist. Only a jealous Reds fan could come up with that crap. Your 2nd baseman called the Cardinals a bunch of bitches and Yadi called him out on it, then your female pitcher Cuetto kicked LaRue in the head like a girl. Yadi’s the best catcher in baseball, deserving of the MVP as the best defensive catcher in the last 20 years and the fourth best hitter in the NL this year. Any team would be improved with Yadi’s gold glove behind the plate. If the Reds don’t choke again in the playoffs, you’ll see first hand how Yadi “chokes”.

      • pdowdy83 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:39 PM

        Matthew was the one that called Yadi a choke artist martes. It was from another thread a few weeks ago.

  7. ninjasports - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    NL Division Series Preview – http://ninjasports.net/nl-division-series-preview/

  8. imaduffer - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:07 PM

    They should have not let Teddy win. The Nationals are toast.

  9. schmedley69 - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:28 PM

    Not a big Cards fan, but have to root for them against the Nats.

  10. randygnyc - Oct 5, 2012 at 10:44 PM

    There are a few Nat’s players that I really like and respect. Unfortunately, any team that would sign Jason Werth I’d have to fervently root against. He’s a dirtbag, IMO (and I’m being civil in my assessment.

    • kkolchak - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM

      Takes one to know one I guess.

      • jimeejohnson - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        randy’s no dirtbag. He’s just a NY a-hole!

  11. philly803 - Oct 5, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    Can someone explain how the cardinals are hosting the nationals please tell me that’s a typo. Wild cards getting the first game over the divisional winners is B.S.

    • stevequinn - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:45 AM

      Because it’s on a “best of 5″ series. The division winner get 3 of the 5 games at home. This is a Selig thing. By rights, the series should open in DC with 2 games, go to ST. Louis for 2, and back to DC for the 5th game. But Selig has never done anything the sensible way.

      • daveloewe - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:03 PM

        Doing it that way increases the travel expenses as each team has to pay for two flights and not just one.

  12. drewnichols81 - Oct 5, 2012 at 11:58 PM

    Divisional Playoffs against Eastern Division teams with great starting pitching, nuthen new for the Cards

  13. stevequinn - Oct 6, 2012 at 3:46 AM

    You can literally say the Braves threw that game away. Throwing errors gave the Cardinals 5 runs.

  14. stlducks - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    The cardinals did win something actually, they won the wild card spot. Can’t blame the cards for taking advantage of Seligs dumb rule.

    As a Cubs fan you should be pushing for more playoff spots, it’s the only way you would make it in.

    • imaduffer - Oct 6, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      The Cubs would only make it into the playoffs if they allowed every team into the playoffs.

  15. mungman69 - Oct 6, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    St Louis is amazing, they have won their last five elimination games.

  16. bbk1000 - Oct 6, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Someone is watching over the Cards….they beat a superior Mets team and went on to win the World Series a short time ago, won again last year with an average team.

    Now this, they get a joke of a call that helps them get past this game. I have a feeling if the ball was on the warning track this clown would have called the infield fly rule.

    • daveloewe - Oct 6, 2012 at 4:09 PM

      Those 2006 Cardinals had the best record in baseball at the 1/3 pole. Then they got injured. Their injured players either got better or the club got replacements and it all gelled at just the right time. They were much better, talent-wise, than their record indicated – easily the equal of the Mets or Tigers.

      • bbk1000 - Oct 8, 2012 at 8:38 AM

        Hey, the won the Series, good for them, but they stunk…it was a perfect storm….

  17. mindenjim - Oct 7, 2012 at 6:54 AM

    Cards in playoffs again? It’s Bush’s fault!

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