One week ago, the St. Louis Cardinals gave me the best birthday gift ever with an epic comeback over the Washington Nationals in the winner-take-all Game 5 of the NLDS. Tonight, they have the chance to defeat the San Francisco Giants and advance to the World Series for the 4th time in the last 10 years.
During a tragic season in 2002, the Cardinals advanced to the NLCS against all odds only to lose to the Giants in 5 games. This year’s NLCS is a rematch of that series but only the players are different.
The Cardinals are one win away from securing the 19th National League pennant in organization history. Only 6 pennants have come after the start of divisional play. The current NL pennant leaders at the moment belong to both the San Francisco/New York Giants and the Los Angeles/Brooklyn Dodgers with 21 pennants each.
Despite this third place ranking in the National League, the Cardinals lead the National League with 11 World Series wins in 18 appearances. The Giants and Dodgers are next with 6 wins each.
In any event, the Cardinals pitching is doing a fantastic job of handling MVP candidate Buster Posey, the recipient of this year’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. Going into the series, I thought for sure that Posey would be the Giants player to have done the most damage. As Derrick Goold notes, the Cardinals are treating Posey with respect. Instead, entering game 5 of the series, that honor belongs to a combination of Pablo Sandoval, Angel Pagan, and Gregor Blanco to name a few.
Lance Lynn needs to show up like he did during the first half of the season for the Cardinals to win the 19th NL pennant in club history. After his last appearance, he’s going to be on a short leash. During his first appearance of the series, the sophomore pitcher gave up 4 runs in 3.2 innings for a 9.82 ERA. Lynn is going to need to redeem himself just as Adam Wainwright did last night. In pitching 7 innings in Game 4, Wainwright not only did his job but rested a bullpen that has seen a lot of work due to the starters going out in the 4th inning in Game 1 and 2. Wainwright did so with that nasty curveball of his.
One more win. That’s all the Cardinals need.