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Cardinals grab top seed in National League playoffs

Sep 29, 2013, 5:22 PM EDT

mike matheny getty Getty Images

One of the few things still undetermined at the start of play Sunday has now been … determined.

Despite a lineup that was without Matt Holliday and an oddly-timed substitution of Tony Cruz for Yadier Molina just before first pitch, the Cardinals rolled to a 4-0 victory over the Cubs in Sunday’s regular-season finale at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Jake Westbrook threw a scoreless first inning and Joe Kelly went five-plus. Jon Jay, Daniel Descalso, Shane Robinson and Cruz all contributed RBI.

The Cardinals have secured the top seed in the National League with a final regular-season record of 97-75 and will open their five-game NLDS on Thursday against the winner of the National League Wild Card Game — Reds or Pirates — which is set for Tuesday night at Pittsburgh’s PNC Park.

The Dodgers (92-69) will play the Braves (96-66) in the other five-game NLDS.

  1. misterj167 - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    As much as I’m a Braves fan, this is why the Cardinals are the Cardinals and the Braves are the Braves. faced with hitting against one of the worst bullpens in baseball yesterday, and against a team that finished 22 games behind them in the regular season, the Braves couldn’t score but one run in 8 innings. The Cards took care of business and weren’t going to let the Cubs win a single game.

  2. dodger88 - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Anyone taking bets on McCann and Puig getting into some sort of fight?

  3. missingdiz - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Considering the season-ending injuries to two starters, the closer, and the starting shortstop, along with other injuries (Craig, Molina, Holiday), plus other problems such as Freeze slumping for much of the season, Westbrook wearing out and Mujica melting down, this team has done really, really well. Considering all that, plus dealing with all the rookies on board, Mike Matheny has to be considered seriously for Manager of the Year.

  4. taz101 - Sep 29, 2013 at 5:52 PM

    Matheny should be in consideration, but Hurdle will walk away with the award… and I bet the voting isn’t even close.

  5. spudchukar - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Great finish to gain the coveted home field advantage throughout. However, the Pirates scare me, will have Burnett and probably Cole in St. Louis for games #1 and #2. Liriano waits for game #3 or #4. The Pirates weakness at this point is their #4 and #5 starters. Morton probably gets the nod in the game Liriano doesn’t pitch, and then back to Burnett for game #5, if necessary.

    Still the Cards are better off in a 7 game tilt against the Dodgers than a 5 game. The Kershaw/Greinke duo will have to pitch at least 3 on the road, and Greinke has a history of struggling in St. Louis, and the Cards handle Kershaw better than most, but he is still a beast.

    Hopefully, gaining the home field, and thus WC match-up will pay off. It probably helps but the Pirates in five isn’t much easier than the Dodgers in five. Should be fun. And gut-wrenching.

    • spudchukar - Sep 29, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Didn’t mean to snub the Reds. A victory Tuesday, leaves them with Latos (I think), and Bailey, two tough customers. Certainly a challenge, but like the Pirates their #4 and #5 Leake and Arroyo have struggled, especially in the homer friendly GAB.

      • missingdiz - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:05 PM

        You’re still snubbing the Braves–not that I care. I’m rooting for the Cards of course, but I think probably the Dodgers have the best odds of winning the whole thing. I agree with you about them. Either way we would have been facing Kershaw and Greinke twice–much better to do it in a 7-game series.

        But who knows…I can close my eyes and see Barry Zito mowing down Cards last year.

      • spudchukar - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:20 PM

        You are probably right. But in my heart of hearts I fear the Braves the least. They are tough when ahead late, but I just don’t believe their starters are as intimidating, and their OBP is weak, and history hasn’t favored teams that rely on the home run in the play-offs.

    • paperlions - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      At this point, there are 5 good teams left, each of which have some high quality starters….the 5 teams left are 1st through 5th in the NL in starter ERA with 4 of the teams starters having ERAs between 3.42 and 3.52….those numbers are indicative of the quality and depth of the starting options for each of the teams….there really aren’t any easy advancements in the NL this year….each team is going to have to earn each and every victory.

      • jm91rs - Sep 29, 2013 at 9:52 PM

        Who are you guys kidding? You know you’re hoping the reds luck into a win against the pirates. The way they have been in September they’re the easy out in the NL. I think they’ll beat the pirates just so they can embarrass themselves in a sweep.

      • gibbyfan - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:04 PM

        what about the problems Waino has with the Reds—would rather see them face the Pirates

  6. missingdiz - Sep 29, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    Oops. No, in a 5 game series probably Kershaw twice but Greinke just once. Still I think it’s better to go 7 with the Dodgers.

  7. redbirdfan81 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    Please post the correct record, 97-65, not 75 losses. Those extra 10 games mean a lot. Now to win 11 games before anybody else and secure our 12th World Series title! Go Cards Go!

  8. markofapro - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:14 PM

    The Cardinal way…dominates again.

    • perryt200 - Sep 29, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Oh, i guess you heard them on Fox Sports Midwest too.

      Best fans in baseball, the farm system, what it means to wear the birds on the bat, rookies coming thru.

      i am a Cards fan, no doubt about that. But when I drank the koolaid I didn’t get a fatal dose.

      I do think StL has a great chance again this year. If the only stat that stays the same during post season is RISP they win it all. But it won’t be easy

      • boilerman2013 - Sep 30, 2013 at 1:21 AM

        You drank koolaid at a baseball game? Really?

        Guess you’re an ESPN guy, right? Well, good thing Fox is still covering sports in the midwest.

        Anyone else out there notice that all the ESPN channels quit covering baseball after the Yankees finally faded away? You can still see Yankee retrospectives on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN News just about every hour or so, but the rest of baseball? They’ve lost interest.

        Hmmmm . . . Maybe that’s why most of the regional games ESPN airs in the Mid-West are Yankees and Red Sox games. I hear they have a team in Detroit now.

      • stlouis1baseball - Sep 30, 2013 at 12:50 PM

        Perry…I ask that you kindly do me a favor please.
        Never, ever say, type or even think these words again…

        “Best fans in baseball.”

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