Today’s a big day for the Cardinals. Eliminating the Nationals in Game Four as opposed to a decisive Game Five on Friday would provide several advantages to them for the future. First and foremost, they wouldn’t have to see some guy named Gio Gonzalez and his 2.89 ERA.
Then you could save Adam Wainwright for Game One of the NLCS instead of throwing Lance Lynn there.
Simply put, it would serve the Cards very well to win today. But Mike Matheny doesn’t see it that way.
“Really not looking ahead at that at all. Just trying not to go too far ahead. Stick with the same plan we’ve had all season. One at a time, realize we just need to win today, and then we’ll be able to put everything else together later, if need be.”
The Cardinals are, once again, doing what they do best in October. Win baseball games. It’s really inexplicable how a group of guys can - over the course of 162 games - play well at times but struggle for others. The word inconsistent comes to mind. Then, all of a sudden, when the playoffs hit they can flip the switch and play like champions.
It creates a perception that they’re much better in the playoffs than they are during the regular season. Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez sees some of those characteristics.
“They have been great all year, without a doubt. They are a great ball club, great chemistry over there. I think that our point of what we are saying and what you’re saying now is that the Cardinals, they have been in the World Series, they have been in the post season, they know what that atmosphere is like.
“We are fresh to this whole atmosphere, this momentum of what’s going on. You look at it for what it is. They came over here and they are playing great ball. So they have an idea of what they are up against, and we are still - we are looking for it, and today we have to make that adjustment and we have to find it immediately.”
Gonzalez also says the Cardinals’ history plays a huge role in these playoffs.
“The Cardinals, there’s a reason why they have 11 World Series titles. They know what they are doing. It’s a great organization.”
Cards 1st baseman Allen Craig agrees.
“I think last year’s experience in the playoffs, we got a lot of experience, a lot of confidence built. Just going to the World Series and winning the World Series, having to play a Game Seven and come out on top; I think that you’re seeing a lot of us use that experience so far this post season. We had a tough do-or-die game in Atlanta and came out on top, and after we won that game, I think we started to feel really good about ourselves and get that feeling like we had last year.”
The Cardinals are rolling right now. They’re confident. They feel like they can beat anyone. And the Nationals are on the ropes. That by no means that they’ll roll through today’s game. But it creates an edge.
If this has to go to tomorrow, the odds go down significantly.
The Cards know this. They hope to play like it.