Found October 01, 2012 on Fox Sports Ohio:
The St. Louis Cardinals had plenty of doubters heading into 2012 after losing their best player and legendary manager from a team that won the World Series the previous fall. Fast forward to another October, and St. Louis is on the verge of a return trip to the postseason. With their magic number to clinch the NL's last playoff spot down to two, the Cardinals look to secure a postseason berth as they begin their final series Monday night at Busch Stadium against the Central champion Cincinnati Reds. Shortly after St. Louis beat Texas in seven games to win the World Series last October, Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols bolted for the Los Angeles Angels in free agency. Mike Matheny replaced La Russa while Carlos Beltran, among others, made up for the loss of Pujols to bring the Cardinals (86-73) to the brink of returning to the postseason. St. Louis beat East-leading Washington 10-4 on Sunday and remained two games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second wild card with three to play. "We're one step closer, but there's still a long way to go," Matheny said. "We've got to keep playing and playing well. The guys came out pushing (Sunday) against a very good team." Beltran homered from both sides of the plate to snap out of a 1-for-14 slump, giving him a team-high 32 homers to go with 97 RBIs. "As ballplayers, you're going to go through good stretches and bad stretches," Beltran said. "I try not to focus on that. I try to focus on the work that I do, come to the ballpark and prepare myself." Jaime Garcia went through a rough stretch of his own with one victory over his previous nine starts before beating Houston in his last two, and he'll take the mound again Monday. Garcia (6-7, 3.99 ERA) beat the Astros 5-4 on Sept. 20 before allowing six hits in seven innings of Tuesday's 4-0 victory. "That was one of his best outings of the season," Matheny said. "He was spot-on. It was fun to see." The left-hander entered this season 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in seven starts versus the Reds, but he's 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA in three starts in 2012. He allowed four runs in six innings of an 8-2 loss Aug. 25 at Cincinnati. The Reds (96-63) secured home-field advantage for the division series with a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Pittsburgh on Sunday, and are tied with Washington for the NL's best record, which would give them home-field throughout the playoffs. If Cincinnati finishes with the top record and St. Louis beats Atlanta in the one-game wild-card round, the teams would meet in the NLDS. "It was a big win for us because we want to get home-field advantage," said Zack Cozart, who replaced Brandon Phillips in the sixth inning Sunday after Phillips experienced tightness in his left leg. "It seems like we kind of lull through games a lot then turn it on at the end." Cincinnati has dropped Bronson Arroyo's last three starts, and hopes to give him more offensive help Monday. The Reds have provided Arroyo (12-9, 3.70) two runs over his last 20 innings, though he didn't do himself any favors by allowing four in six innings of an 8-1 loss to Milwaukee on Wednesday. The right-hander gave up three runs in eight innings to beat the Cardinals 6-3 on April 19, ending a seven-start winless streak against them in which he went 0-4 with a 5.95 ERA. These teams have split the first 12 meetings this season, but the Reds have won five of the last seven.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

The most damaging loss of the Cardinals season?

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Saturday night loss to the Washington Nationals in extra innings was disappointing. After all, it was the team’s 12th defeat in 18 games that went beyond nine innings this season. Further, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their game against Colorado, their fourth victory in a row. That pulled them to within two games of St. Louis for the second National League...

Second wild card update – Monday, 10/1

With the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers winning their Sunday contests, the Cardinals’ magic number to clinch the second National League wild card is down to two. Below is the updated table of possible outcomes the rest of the way. The Cardinals entertain the NL Central-winning Reds in the final three while the Dodgers are at home against the NL West-winning Giants...

Garcia finding groove down stretch

ST. LOUIS For all the deserved talk of what Kyle Lohse, Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter mean for the Cardinals chances of repeating as World Series champions, lefty Jaime Garcia sure hasnt been mentioned much. If he keeps pitching like this, hell get his time to shine soon enough. Garcia rolled off his fourth impressive start in a row Monday night to help the Cardinals beat...

Beltran heating up at perfect time for Cards

ST. LOUIS Mike Matheny and the Cardinals know first hand what a hot Carlos Beltran can mean to a team in the playoffs. And they hope to see it happen again. Beltran continued a recent surge at the plate Sunday, launching two home runs and collecting five RBI to help the Cardinals knock off the Washington Nationals 9-4 at Busch Stadium. The win dropped the Cardinals magic number...

Cardinals Care To Dedicate Lance Berkman Field

ST. LOUIS – October 1, 2012 – Cardinals Care and the Redbird Rookies will honor Cardinals Outfielder/First Baseman Lance Berkman with the dedication of Lance Berkman Field at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 2, at the Sesser Sports Complex in Sesser, Illinois. Lance Berkman Field, which is Cardinals Care’s 19th youth ball field, is the home field for the nine teams involved...

This Day Is Actually Here?

And then there was 1. A single win from the Cardinals or a loss from the Dodgers puts the defending World Series Champs back into the 2012 tournament. It’s been an exhausting experience for everyone. Remember that Albert Pujols guy? I guess it’s true that time heals all wounds, because back in April and May we were watching his floundering like a hawk, reveling in...

Beltran homers twice as Cardinals beat Nats

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Carlos Beltran homered from both sides of the plate for the ninth time in his career and drove in five runs, and the St. Louis Cardinals closed in on the NL's second wild-card berth by beating the Washington Nationals 10-4 Sunday. St. Louis (86-74) took a 7-0 lead by the third inning and reduced its magic number for clinching to two, pending the game later...

At Least Missouri Loves Yadi

Yadier Molina has had a fan-*******-tastic 2012 season.  Hell, he's been so good that we might have to re-evaluate just how good Pujols was in 2006 and 2011. Maybe it was Molina that was the real MVP of the past several seasons? Anyway, here's the latest ESPN SportsNation poll. At least Missouri appreicates greatness. 

Beltran powers Cards past Nats

The Cardinals closed in on the NL's second wild-card berth while the Washington Nationals failed to make progress toward the NL East title. Carlos Beltran homered from both sides of the plate for the ninth time in his career and drove in five runs, leading St. Louis over the Nationals 10-4 Sunday. ''We're one step closer, but there's still a long way to go,...

Reds-Cardinals Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals had plenty of doubters heading into 2012 after losing their best player and legendary manager from a team that won the World Series the previous fall. Fast forward to another October, and St. Louis is on the verge of a return trip to the postseason. With their magic number to clinch the NL's last playoff spot down to two, the Cardinals look to secure...

What if?

The St. Louis Cardinals entered the final two series of the 2012 regular season with something to play for: the Second Wild Card, which would assure them a one game playoff—the winner of which goes on to play in the NLDS against the playoff team with the best record. But what if the game was still being played under last year’s rules? What would the Cardinals be playing for in...

Reds deny Cardinals, keep magic number at 1

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Mat Latos won his fourth straight decision to finish the regular season and Scott Rolen homered off Chris Carpenter, helping the Cincinnati Reds keep the St. Louis Cardinals' postseason plans on hold with a 3-1 victory Tuesday night. The Cardinals' magic number for clinching the second NL wild card remained at one with a game to go, and they were left in...

Cards clinch wild card tie with win over Reds

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Jaime Garcia homered off Bronson Arroyo and pitched into the seventh inning, helping the St. Louis Cardinals clinch at least a tie for the second NL wild card and spoil Dusty Baker's return from a mini-stroke with a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night. The defending World Series champions have won 11 of 14 and led the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.