Cardinals are in good shape -- but the job isn't done yet

Posted by Scott Wuerz on October 13, 2013 

Cardinals fans know better than to count their chickens before they're hatched.

Evaporated big leads in the 1985 World Series and the 1996 and 2012 National League Championship Series proved that it's never over until the last out is recorded.

That being said, the Redbirds are certainly on the right path, winning both games of their NLCS match-up with the Dodgers. Even one win out of three in Los Angeles sends the Cardinals home with a 3-2 lead a chance to win one of two games at home for a berth in the World Series.

It's utterly amazing how this team has come together when it counted most. It's not as if the Dodgers have played bad. They've lost each of the first two games of the series by a single run. The reason St. Louis owns the first two victories is because it's pitching staff has operated nearly perfectly.

Game 1 starter Joe Kelly made only one painful mistake when he was unable to cleanly field a comeback grounder that led to two Dodgers runs. In game two, Michael Wacha was unable to flirt with a no-hitter for the third start in a row. But, when a throwing error by second baseman Matt Carpenter led to a two on, nobody out rally for the Dodgers, Wacha was no less impressive. He got a pop out and a pair of strikeouts to end the threat and preserve a 1-0 lead. After Wacha departed, Randy Choate, Seth Maness, Kevin Siegrist, John Axford and Trevor Rosenthal efficiently held down the LA offense until it ran out of outs.

The Cardinals haven't scored much so far this series. But signs are there that an offensive outburst could be on the horizon. Carpenter, who couldn't buy a hit against Pittsburgh in the NLDS, suddenly has hits in consecutive games including a leadoff triple Saturday. Getting runners on base at the top of the order is key to sparking the big hitters in its middle.

One mistake here and another there, things could be completely reversed. But a win is a win is a win...

Of course the Redbirds can take a lot of pressure off themselves by taking advantage of having ace Adam Wainwright on the hill for Game 3. Hyun-Jin Ryu will start for Los Angeles. He's a lefty and a rookie, in other words, the type of pitcher most dangerous against St. Louis. But Ryu, who was excellent over the regular season, was roughed up for four runs in three innings of work in his only start this post season.

 

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