The Cardinals, who were slumping so badly a month ago, made a September charge, going 19-8, that not only put them back on top in the NL Central, but tied them with the Sox for the best season record in the majors, 97-65. They completed a sweep of the Cubs this weekend, and other than the 2 runs Edward Mujica gave up Saturday, shut them out.
They now wait for the results of Tuesday’s playoff between the Pirates and the Reds in Pittsburgh. The Bucs swept the Reds this weekend in Cincinnati, so it’s anyone’s guess if the Reds are going to be fired up and spoiling for revenge or worn out.
Today’s 4-0 whitewash of Chicago appropriately came on the 50th anniversary of Stand Musial’s final game, in 1963. The Cards did a nice, classy thing by letting Jake Westbrook, who’s thrown well in his stint with St. Louis, but who faltered this year, start the game, which is likely to be his last in a St. Louis uniform. Joe Kelly came in and threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings, his fastball, curve and changeup all working. He got into some trouble in the 7th, with runners on the corners and 1 out, so Matheny lifted him and hailed Randy Choate, who threw one pitch and induced a double play to end the threat.
The only disappointments, to my mind, were Matt Carpenter, who went 1 for 10 in the Cubs series, missing getting his 200th hit in three trips to the plate, and Carlos Beltran, who may also be ending his tenure in St. Louis, missing hitting his 25th homer.
However, Carpenter finished the season leading the league in hits, runs scored (126), doubles (55) and multi-hit games (63). His .320 batting average was 3rd in the league and first among second basemen. I want Yadi to win the MVP, but Matt Carpenter should get a lot of votes.
The Cardinals end the season leading the NL in runs scored (779), RBIs (741), and perhaps most importantly, batting average with runners in scoring position (.330), the highest in the majors in 40 years. Team batting average (.269) was .001 behind Colorado.
Pitching was outstanding in April and May, but the staff struggled through the middle three months of the season only to return to form in September. Adam Wainwright tied for the league lead in wins with 19, and Joe Kelly was outstanding, going 10-5 after being put in the rotation.
The post-season will be a battle, no question, but the Cardinals, winners of their last 6 in a row, are going in strong.