Cheap Seats

Cardinals keep coming up big in the clutch

Down 4-0 and in danger of falling farther behind, it looked like the St. Louis Cardinals were going to see their hot streak come to an end Tuesday.

But, like they did in the opener against the Washinton Nationals Monday, the Redbirds immediately responded to their opponent’s big inning and proved this isn’t a run of the mill team.

For a team that sometimes struggles to score runs -- and that doesn’t have the power to count on three-run homers to get it back into games -- it wouldn’t have been a surprise to see the trailing team get down and start thinking about tomorrow.

But the Cardinals don’t have an ounce of quit in them.

Nevermind that substitute starter Marco Gonzales was bombed for seven hits and couldn’t make it through three innings. Nevermind that when they were trailing by 4, the Birds were also being no-hit.

They scored three runs in the bottom of the third, came close to getting over the top twice in the middle innings and then finished the job with two runs in the bottom of the eighth and three -- with two outs -- in the bottom of the ninth to win it.

Depleted by injury and offensively challenged, the Redbirds seem to always be able to find a way to scratch up just enough runs to win whether they need a pair to win 2-1 or eight tallies to win a slugfest.

There’s a name for players who do just enough to get the job done, regardless of the circumstances: Winners.

This home stand is the most crucial part of the 2015 season. The Cardinals are playing a stretch of games against teams with tough pitching and good offense, not to mention the two teams that are chasing them in the standings.

Winning the first two -- and the series -- against the Nationals has taken off some of the heat of playing the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs.

If the Redbirds can split the series with the Bucs and Wee Bears, they’ll head into the last three weeks of the season with a sizable lead to defend. If they can win those two series, the Cardinals may just put the National League Central title in their pocket and put themselves in position to rest their starting pitchers at the end of the schedule as they prepare to be the top seed in the National League Playoffs.