Reaching the World Series was the proverbial icing on the cake, but that was only one piece of the puzzle. From Opening Day to the final out of the World Series, this team experienced numerous moments that will remain pieces of Cardinals history for decades to come.
Following is a recap of five of the most memorable moments from the Cardinals’ 2013 season.
All statistics included in this story are courtesy Baseball-Reference.com.
At the start of the 2013 season, the Cardinals were determined to try a new middle-infield experiment—Matt Carpenter, a career corner infielder, would be moved to second base.
The hope was simply that Carpenter could play an adequate defense while making up the real difference with his bat. He did what they wanted, and then much more.
In addition to becoming one of the game’s premier second basemen, he also took over as the team’s leadoff spot in the lineup and gave the Cardinals the spark they needed ahead of the big bats. If Carpenter hit, the Cardinals won in 2013—it was that simple.
As a result, when Carpenter was named an All-Star despite his lack of prior notoriety, it made the moment far more special.
On the afternoon of Saturday, May 20, 2013, ace pitcher Adam Wainwright officially returned to baseball. He physically returned from Tommy John surgery much earlier, but during this game against the Colorado Rockies he looked like the Wainwright of prior years.
Dominant from the first pitch, Wainwright survived seven and one-third inning before giving up a single to end his no-hit bid.
He ended up with a pair of hits, but the win was exactly what both fans and Wainwright himself needed to see as a reminder of what he is capable of when he is on top of his game.
Stellar pitching had everything to do with the Cardinals’ 2013 success, so it’s only fitting that it would be such a major part of this list.
Just a few days prior to Wainwright’s start, rookie Shelby Miller grabbed at national baseball headlines when he threw a perfect game against the Colorado Rockies—well, sort of.
After a broken-bat single to start the game, Miller sent 27 straight batters headed back to the bench with their heads hanging low. It was the first real glimpse at the reputation that arrived in St. Louis several years ahead of him.
It’s entirely possible that the broken-bat single to start this particular game cost Miller the Rookie of the Year award. Regardless, it was an impressive outing.
Throughout the first two rounds of the postseason, there seemed to be one common goal—get Carlos Beltran to the World Series.
His teammates genuinely wanted to be a part of helping their teammate, friend and mentor get the ring. His career has been worthy, but plenty of great players have finished their careers without ever playing in a World Series.
After 2013, Beltran won’t be on that list. He didn’t win his ring, but having a chance to play for it meant everything to Beltran.
His time in St. Louis has come to a close, but his decision to join the New York Yankees undoubtedly had everything to do with another chance to return to the World Series.
It was one of the most touching moments of the 2013 season, but it still wasn’t the most memorable.
In early summer of 2012, Michael Wacha was pitching for Texas A&M. Only 15 short months later, he carried a no-hit bid into the final out of a late-season game against the Washington Nationals.
Simply being on the major league roster in less than a year was enough of an accomplishment. Carrying the same success he had in college and the minor leagues to the majors was more than anyone could have expected—including himself.
Before the Cardinals’ season officially concluded on a cold night at Fenway Park, Michael Wacha made his name known to all of baseball. In 2014, there’s a good chance he’ll continue to show that he’s worthy of the role he earned.
There will be many more moments in Wacha’s career that will mean a lot to him and to Cardinals fans, but in 2013 his near no-hitter was no doubt the biggest moment of the season.