Originally posted on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 10/4/12

There have been some big changes in St. Louis since the Cardinals won the World Series last year with slugger Albert Pujols leaving the team as a free agent and manager Tony La Russa retiring. However, the club will still have the opportunity to defend its World Series title as they made the playoffs on Oct. 2 by clinching one of the National League’s wild card berths. They’ll face off against the Atlanta Braves on Fri. Oct. 5 in a one-game showdown to see who earns the right to advance.

Cardinals’ starting pitcher Chris Carpenter said they may be the last team to make the playoffs, but they still have the chance to win another championship. He added that his club is playing well right now and everybody realizes they have to be at their best to beat Atlanta and move on. The franchise and fans is used to the pressures of the postseason since the Cardinals have been involved in the playoffs nine times out of the last 13 seasons.

Rookie manager Mike Matheny was a member of three of those teams and is now looking forward to managing St. Louis as they hope to repeat as World Series winners. One of the first things Matheny did was to name Kyle Lohse as his starting pitcher for the game against the Braves. Lohse has won 16 games this season and Matheny said he’s done everything the team has asked of him.

Some fans are surprised the Cardinals have made it this far since the club suffered several injuries throughout the season. Pitcher Jamie Garcia missed over two months of the season due to an arm injury and first baseman Lance Berkman played in just 31 contests. Outfielder Allen Craig missed six weeks and shortstop Rafael Furcal remains on the disabled list. However, the team proved it a lot of depth and everybody chipped in by picking up their workload.

Bill De Witt, the Cardinals CEO, said it’s usually hard for a World Series-winning team to make the playoffs the next season and he thinks it’s a wonderful accomplishment. He said the team’s longest losing streak of the season was five games and the starting pitching has been a big reason they’ll be playing Atlanta on the weekend. However, the team hasn’t won more than five games in a row either and has often had a hard time manufacturing runs. St. Louis sprinted to the finish line though with 11 victories in their past 15 games.

With the Cardinals clinching a playoff spot, Matheny will be able to rest some of his regular starting players in the season finale and is hoping everybody will be healthy for the game on Oct 5. Adam Wainwright won’t have to pitch in the last regular season game and he’ll be ready to go if Matheny calls on him to start the Division Series, providing St. Louis makes it.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jerry Jones kneels with players prior to anthem, later stands

Jim Harbaugh wants Big Ten to address ‘unsportsmanlike’ opposing locker rooms

Yasiel Puig to play Tuesday after being benched two games

The strangest, oddest, most ridiculous developments of NFL Week 3

LeBron on Irving trade: I was ready to give him the keys

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Josh Norman to Raiders WRs: ‘Do not run your mouth’

WATCH: Dez Bryant drags half of Arizona’s defense into end zone

Marcus Smart lost a lot of weight in offseason to become more athletic

Report: Bucs LB Lavonte David week-to-week with ankle sprain

These ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants had no clue on NFL questions

Von Miller advertisement pulled after anthem protest

After Carmelo Anthony trade, the Western Conference looks completely different

The 'Celebrations are afoot in Philadelphia' quiz

Getaway Day: Closing time on 2017 regular season

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

NFL Week 3 predictions

The 'MLB is as powerful as ever' quiz

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

After Melo trade, the West looks completely different

The 'Celebrations are afoot in Philadelphia' quiz

Getaway Day: Closing time on 2017 regular season

Sports & Politics Intersect: Mayor Garcetti rolls back the NFL red carpet

The 'Greatest Show temporarily not on turf' quiz

Separating MLS playoff contenders from pretenders

WNBA Finals preview: Lynx look for revenge against Sparks

Three Up, Three Down: The home runs just keep on coming

The 'Chris Sale joins an elite club' quiz

Building on the NFL's positive changes beyond 2017

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker