St. Louis Cardinals Emulate 2010 World Series Champions
After watching the first game of the World Series, more than a few people have switched their votes for the Texas Rangers to the St. Louis Cardinals. While both teams have the best offense in their respective leagues and deep bullpens, the experience of this Rangers ball club and their success throughout the regular season has swayed people to believe that they are more likely to win.
But remember what happened last year? The scrappy Giants were able to somehow fight their way to the top, and the Cardinals are no different. In fact, they share many similarities in their journey through the postseason—and might share the same happy ending.
Late Season Clinch
The Giants tortured their fans to the last day of the regular season, clinching the NL West in a 3-0 win over the Padres. Cardinals fans went through the same agony after the team's late season surge gave them hope for a Wild Card title. They finished off the season with a shut-out win over the Astros with a score of 8-0.
Help from the Competition
The final standings of these two teams was due in part to the collapses of the Padres and Braves towards the end of the season. The Padres looked locked in for the better part of the season until a 10 game losing streak that made it possible for the Giants to catch up.
The Braves had the biggest September meltdown in history and their final loss against the Phillies gave the Cardinals the last half game they needed to overtake the lead.
Eliminated the Favorite
The Giants stunned the baseball world by eliminating the heavily favored Phillies and their dynamic pitching rotation in six games in the NLCS.
The Cardinals did the same against an improved rotation in the NLDS in five games. They handed the team believed to be the NLCS champion their second straight elimination, showing they, like the Giants, were not going down quietly.
The Giants won the first game of the World Series with their Cy Young winner Lincecum against the best of Texas, Cliff Lee.
The Cardinals did the same, starting their Cy Young pitcher Chris Carpenter against the rising star C.J. Wilson. While the Giants and Rangers had a high scoring Game 1, the Cardinals and Rangers had a five run ballgame, proving both teams and their explosive offense can be tamed.
The Giants of last year had success against the machine-like Roy Halladay with Cody Ross during the NLCS.
The Cardinals had earlier success against the pitcher in the NLDS with Rafael Furcal. Ross batted in a few runs that manufactured a win and Furcal was responsible for hitting a triple and being the only run to score in the decisive Game 5 of the series.
The same way that Cody Ross was a catalyst for the San Francisco Giants, Rafael Furcal and the bullpen have added life to the St. Louis Cardinals. Furcal has provided some good at-bats and excellent defense that has helped the Cards on both sides of the box score.
Not to mention, Octavio Dotel and Marc Rzepczynski have struck out hearty hitters of the Phillies and Brewers when called upon by Tony La Russa and show no signs of changing their approach against the Rangers.
Last year, the San Francisco Giants were painted as the "Little Engine that Could," a "Cinderella" story, a fairytale, etc. Although they had won a division title they did not get there comfortably.
The Cardinals are now being described in the same way. Akin to the Giants' pitching staff is the Cardinals batting lineup. Prior to Game 1, commentators and analysts had picked Texas in six or seven games. After last night's game, these Cardinals are looking for one last "Happy Flight" to the off-season.