Once again, the St. Louis Cardinals gazed at the big-screen Televisions, hoping for a little help. Unlike the previous night, there weren’t any plans for a late-night victory party.
”I’m sending them home,” rookie manager Mike Matheny related after a 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday kept St. Louis’ postseason plans on hold for a couple of hours. ”They need to get some rest.”
Almost everyone stayed put, though, and Matheny said the players who left were back in the clubhouse well before the Cardinals learned they’d be headed back to the playoffs to defend their World Series championship.
Reporters were not allowed into the victory party, but loud entertaining may be heard outside the locked door just outside the clubhouse.
”I think they realized how special this is,” Matheny said. ”You can’t take these for granted. We were talking about it being kind of subdued which was, but they are still proud. And had a perfect right to be.”
St. Louis clinched baseball’s last postseason berth early Wednesday when the L.A Dodgers lost 4-3 to San Francisco. After wrapping up the 2nd National League wild card, the Cardinals will play at Atlanta on Fri. in the new one-game playoff.
”It’s a wonderful sensation. It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” general manager John Mozeliak said. ”I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and particularly Mike Matheny for what he was able to do with his leadership.”
Matheny said Kyle Lohse (16-3, 2.86 ERA) will start against the Braves.
”What is there not to love about him? I mean, what more can he do?” Matheny said. ”It’s kind of lined up that way and we’ve had that in line for a while.” Scores
The loss left the L.A Dodgers 2 games behind St. Louis with one to go.
St. Louis players stayed in the clubhouse after beating the Reds on Monday night to watch the Dodgers edge the Giants, trudging home after midnight when L.A snapped a ninth-inning tie to win.
One night later on St. Louis got in with some help from the Giants.
For their part, the NL Central champion Reds did their best to keep the Cardinals down.
”All they need is a chance,” announced Jay Bruce, who had an RBI single in the 6th. ”We saw that last year. They got in and they made the best out of it, literally made the best out of it. They won the World Series.”
Mat Latos won his 4th straight decision to close the regular season and Scott Rolen homered off Chris Carpenter.
The 37-year-old Carpenter (0-2) has a wealth of big-game experience and went 4-0 in the postseason last fall for the World Series champs, memorably outdueling Philadelphia ace Roy Halladay in Game 5 of the NL division series.
Despite of the loss, the Cardinals are 11-4 in their last 15 games. Now they can hold back Adam Wainwright (14-13, 3.94), who’d been set to pitch the regular-season conclusion against Homer Bailey (13-10, 3.75), who is coming off a no-hitter at Pittsburgh.