No place like home: Cardinals looking forward to returning to Busch Stadium

News-DemocratOctober 26, 2013 

Cards infielder Daniel Descalso talks about Joe Kelly pitching Game 4 of the World Series Saturday.

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— There's a comfort factor for the St. Louis Cardinals when they're playing at Busch Stadium.

The Cardinals were 54-27 at home this season. Only the Atlanta Braves were better at home (56-25).

That's what made the Cardinals' 4-2 victory over Boston in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday so important.

The win not only tied the series at 1, but gave the Cardinals homefield advantage with three of a possible five remaining games in St. Louis.

"It's one of those things you can't really explain," Cardinals infielder Daniel Descalso said of the team's dominance at home. "Obviously, we're very comfortable in our home ballpark. We enjoy playing in front of the fans at Busch and we're happy to be back here with the series tied up, looking at three games in St. Louis."

Right-hander Joe Kelly, the Cardinals' starter in Game 3 at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, said it's all about routine.

"We love playing here at Busch Stadium," Kelly said. "It's a sea of red, and our fans are so great. They come out here and support us throughout the whole entire year. And to go to the postseason, we kind of do it for them, too. These guys, they're just the best.

"And it's fun when we play here. It's home. You get to sleep in your own bed. You get to do what you normally do on a regular basis. If you get coffee in the morning, you go to your coffee shop. It's just a comfort level to know that's it's your home away from your offseason home."

After dropping five of six at home from Aug. 5-10, the Cardinals were 21-5 at Busch Stadium from Aug. 11 until the end of the regular season as they surged to the National League Central championship.

"I think we played pretty good baseball the last two months, no matter where we played," Descalso said. "I didn't know what our record was at home or on the road. You try not to worry about that stuff."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny buys into Kelly's theory.

"There's just that comfort of being at home," Matheny said. "And you have your home fans behind you. It's going to be an exciting atmosphere. It's going to be loud and the guys thrive on that."

First baseman Matt Adams agreed.

"We just play well in front of our fans. They support us," Adams said. "No matter whether we're winning or losing, they're always behind us. They're into every pitch and it's a fun atmosphere to go out there and play in front of them."

Craig not ready

Matheny wasn't bullish on the possibility of Allen Craig being able to play first base in Game 3.

Craig was the designated hitter for the first two games at Fenway Park in Boston, going 2-for-7 in his first action since Sept. 4.

But with the series shifting to the National League park, Craig probably will be on the bench since the DH will not be in play.

That means Adams is likely to play first and take his cuts against Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy.

"Allen took some ground balls (Friday)," Matheny said. "We're not pushing this too hard or too fast. We're very excited about what we're seeing with him at the plate, and that's the main thing."

Matheny didn't entirely rule out Craig playing defense, if not Saturday, perhaps Sunday or Monday.

"Every day is another step," Matheny said. "(Saturday) we'll get him to take more ground balls and get him moving. He also has the potential to possibly play in the outfield. So we're giving him a little more work and exposure out there."

Beltran OK

Right fielder Carlos Beltran came through Game 2 in adequate physical condition and is thumbs-up for Game 3.

Beltran was 2-for-4 with an RBI in Game 2 after exiting in the third inning of Game 1 with bruised ribs on his right side.

"He looked pretty normal to me (Thursday)," Matheny said. "Not a lot of apprehension. I didn't see him wincing when he was taking swings, and (he was) moving pretty well in the outfield --(got) good jumps. ... And I think he's going to continue to get better every day. But I don't think he's far."

Adams wasn't surprised Beltran gave it a go.

"He's a beast," Adams said. "He never quits. He's a fighter. He wanted to be out on that field regardless of how he felt. He played well (Thursday) for us."

Molina, Wainwright finalists

Catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright are finalists to win Rawlings Gold Glove Awards.

Molina has won five previous Gold Gloves (2008-12); Wainwright has one (2009).

"In the offseason, I try to win this award," Molina said. "Every year is different and you try to do better than you did the year before."

Molina, who threw out 20 of 46 attempted basestealers, is the favorite to win the award over A.J. Ellis, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Russell Martin, of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"They're good," Molina said. "It's going to be tough. Hopefully, it goes my way."

Wainwright would rather be a candidate to win a Cy Young Award, but another Gold Glove Award would mean a lot to him.

"Any type of award like that that you can win is just a resume chip," he said. "You can always look back and say you did it."

Contact reporter David Wilhelm at dwilhelm@bnd.com or 239-2665.

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