ST. LOUIS -- The debut of a first year manager and the departure of one of the greatest players in franchise history weren't enough to keep the defending World Series champions out of a playoff spot.
Despite losing 3-1 to the Cincinnati Reds Tuesday, the Cardinals clinched the National League's second wild card spot about two hours later when the Los Angeles Dodgers lost 4-3 to the San Francisco Giants.
Under the new playoff format, the Cardinals will play the Atlanta Braves in a one-game showdown Friday at Turner Field in Atlanta to determine who advances to the Division Series as the Wild Card champion. The loser heads home.
"You just look back historically and it's hard after winning the World Series to get in the playoffs and for this team to do it is quite something I think," said Cardinals chairman and principal owner Bill DeWitt Jr. "A great accomplishment. Mike Matheny's first year as manager, he did a great job. We went through a lot of injuries and hardship but to be in...