"There's somethin' happenin' here. What it is, ain't exactly clear."
-- Buffalo Springfield
With apologies to an old rock band, don't we know exactly what's happenin' here?
The calendar page has turned to October and the Cardinals face another tough challenge. And they now need one more bit of magic to clinch another World Series berth.
Even after the Cards' 5-0 loss to San Francisco in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Friday, doesn't every St. Louis fan -- and most of the baseball world -- expect the Redbirds to find some way to win one game by the Bay on Sunday or Monday?
Don't fret, Cardinals fans. There's just too much recent playoff history to think otherwise: There's the magical run last postseason. The win over Atlanta two weeks ago. That wild affair in Washington last week. And some more Cardinal playoff magic earlier in this twist-and-turn series.
Who can explain all this? Not even Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, not completely.
"I don't know," he said, shaking his head. "We focus. We've got a great team. I feel that we've got a good offense, good pitching, good bullpen. I mean, I don't know. I don't know what it is.
"We take good at-bats. If you take good at-bats, good things are going to happen. That's why we are where we are right now. We're putting the ball in play, we make contact. When you make contact, sometimes you find holes."
Maybe it's as simple as that: When a playoff series is on the line, the Cardinals seem to play better, are more fundamentally sound, and get most of the key hits and most of the key outs.
Or maybe, just maybe, the baseball gods simply like the Birds on the Bat. Hardly any other way to explain the karma that's come the Cards' direction this October:
* The Cardinals get four unearned runs thanks to two Atlanta errors in a three-run win in the wild-card play-in game two weeks ago.
* They get game-tying and game-winning two-run singles from their seventh- and eighth-place hitters, Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma, in the Miracle Comeback win over Washington in the deciding game of the Division Series.
* And they win a pivotal Game 3 in the NLCS when their best player this month, Carlos Beltran, was hurt in the first inning -- and his rookie replacement, Matt Carpenter, hit the game-winning home run. With his parents in the stands to boot.
Yeah, I think we know what's happenin' here.
"They keep fighting. And they're a balanced ballclub," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, offering an unbiased eye toward his NLCS opponent. "It's a tough lineup to get through, and good pitching. They're solid. You get to the playoffs and you're a good club.
"But they do have something going. There's no getting around that: What they did last year and what they've done this year."
Imagine the implications at stake in San Francisco on Sunday and Monday:
* The Cardinals, if they get to the Series against Detroit and win, would become the first back-to-back NL World Series champs since Cincinnati in 1975-76, and the first in either league since the AL's New York Yankees won three in a row from 1998 to 2000.
* If the Redbirds were to win, it would mark the first time in franchise history the Cardinals won the Series in succeeding years.
* And if they won, it would continue a sea change for an organization that saw Albert Pujols, Tony La Russa and Dave Duncan leave after last season's title run. The same team, mind you, that lost Chris Carpenter and Lance Berkman for all but a fraction of this regular season.
The faces change. The commitment to winning doesn't.
"Our team is a good group of guys, (and) I think the leadership and the camaraderie that we have, have a lot to do with it," Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday said. "We had a lot of injuries and key figures that aren't a part of the team any more, and we found a way to get back to here.
"I think it goes back to the organization and the Cardinals, and we expect to win. Doesn't matter who is on the team or who's hurt. There's an expectation that young guys come up and fill the void, and veterans step up."
Yes, this team has been around this block before: If the Cards can win Game 6 or 7, it would mark the third World Series for the Cardinals in the last seven years -- more than any other team -- and their fourth trip in nine years, also the most of any club in the majors.
There's a common thread through the club dating back to the 2006 Series win: Clubhouse leaders including Carpenter and Adam Wainwright and Skip Schumaker have all been down this road before.
And they've shown the way for the next wave of suddenly experienced postseason performers, the likes of David Freese, Allen Craig, Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs.
"We have guys like Carp and Waino and Skip," Holliday said, "and guys that were here long before I got here that provide that Cardinal way. And they teach us and the guys, 'Hey, we're the Cardinals and we're going to play in the playoffs."
And going to find a way to win: That's what's happenin' here.
Joe Ostermeier, chairman of the St. Louis Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America, has written about the Cardinals for the News-Democrat since 1985. He can be reached at (618) 239-2512 or at email@example.com.