As so many have often joked, now the Giants move on and the Cardinals are left to watch the World Series from their couch. Maybe they’ll work on their golf games. Use whichever tacky joke you choose.
The fact is, in October baseball, a loss is a loss. Blowing a 3-1 lead in the National League Championship Series, however, borders on epic.
In the end, it looked like the Cardinals simply ran out of gas. Sure, they faced good pitching, good offense and amazing defense, but it looks like the Cardinals left the last of the 2012 comeback mojo somewhere in Washington, D.C.
The same problems that plagued them in the regular season quickly returned to bite them in the postseason. It’s only fitting that this is how it ended.
Here are a few of the major reasons the Cardinals lost:
• In the last 29 innings of the season, the Cardinals combined for a total of one run.
• The Cardinals faced great pitching—well, at least in games five and six. Matt Cain was extremely hittable on Monday night, but the Cardinals just couldn’t seem to get to him. Cain clearly wasn’t himself but the Cardinals' hitting came up short.
• The Cardinals combined for three errors over the last three games. It’s not an astronomical number, but each proved extremely costly with runs being scored.
• Yadier Molina, following a dismal performance in the National League Division Series where he hit .118, cranked it up in the NLCS with a .393 batting average. Sadly, after going 11-of-28 it only translated into two RBI. That’s no fault of his own, but is a result of the big bats in the lineup failing to produce.
• Allen Craig, one of the big bats that carried the Cardinals through the regular season, hit only .125 (3-for-24) in the NLCS.
• Matt Holliday, another of the Cardinals’ big bats, hit only .200 in the series.
• Cardinals lead-off man Jon Jay, who hit .305 in the regular season, hit only .207 in the NLCS.
• The Cardinals were getting baserunners, but they just couldn’t get them around even if they were in scoring position. The team went 1-for-21 with RISP during the final three games of the NLCS.
• A total of 25 baserunners were stranded during the final three games.
• In the final three games, the Cardinals' starting pitching combined for 9.2 innings and surrendered 14 runs (seven of which were unearned.)
• Joe Kelly, who had been an excellent mop-up guy for the Cardinals throughout the postseason, finally showed that he is human on Monday, surrendering the only two runs of his 7.2 innings on the mound in the postseason. A great performance overall, but it was bound to happen eventually. You can’t expect to clean up after the starters every night and always be successful.
• Since David Freese’s HR in his first at-bat of the series, he went 4-of-25, with no RBI.
The list could go on considerably longer.
When a team is outscored 20-1 there are obviously a lot of problems. This year, the problems that nagged them all season caught up with the Cardinals when it counted.
That about says it all.
It was a good run while it lasted, but unlike in 2011, it wasn’t destined to continue.
In 2013, the Cardinals will return with even more desire to win than they began with in 2012.
Will they get to this point again next year? There’s always a chance in St. Louis.