Hold the bubbly: Cardinals hunting bigger game before celebrating

Hold the bubbly: Cardinals hunting bigger game before celebrating

Hold the bubbly: Cardinals hunting bigger game before celebrating

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by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 5:02 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 5:09 PM

(BaseballStL) -- Even as they return home knowing they'll make their third straight postseason appearance, the Cardinals aren't celebrating just yet. 

The club found out Sunday they were guaranteed a playoff berth when the Nationals lost prior to the start of St. Louis' game with the Brewers. 

"The timing of it was just kind of odd," said Mike Matheny. "Right before we play the game we see the Nationals have lost. That's not really the time - as you get prepared to play a game- to kind of acknowledge anything."

Perhaps further muting the urge to celebrate was the Cardinals' sloppy loss to the Brewers. In a game that saw the team commit three errors, the Redbirds fell 6-4 in Milwaukee. 

"We waited until after the game, and we were hoping to have a win to kind of make it feel a little more natural," Matheny said. "It was a tough loss, but we still stopped and make sure we talked about it. It's still special and something to be proud of."

"It's an honor and a privilege and something we don't take for granted," said Trevor Rosenthal Monday. "Looking back on last year, just having that wild card spot guaranteed- it's huge. We saw far we could to go last year with it."

Rosenthal also said the team has a lot left they would like to accomplish before the season ends, though he allowed himself a small celebration.  

"I was happy, I was celebrating. I wanted to put on that postseason hat and wear it proudly," he said. "I think everybody is excited but we have a team that has such high standards and a lot of goals. Sometimes those expectations are hard to meet, but these guys work so hard and it's an honor to be a part of that."

One of those goals is clear. With six games to go, the Cardinals need to win five to clinch the NL Central. With what will be one of the hardest-fought division races in recent history winding down to the final innings, Matt Adams acknowledged celebrations will have to wait. 

"I want to do it big, but we gotta focus on one game at a time. Take it day by day and if we get there we get there," he said. "Our main goal is to win the NL Central and carry it on into the playoffs."

The "one-day-at-a-time" philosophy has been Matheny's mantra since day one, and the freshly 43-year-old manager said the team echoes that approach. 

"There was no popping of champagne or anything like that because we know we have a lot of work to do this week and we're anxious to get going," he said. 

While all eyes are on the division crown, the bubbly is still moving toward the ice bucket. With an NL Central win, the Cards would finally get a chance to revel in their success, rather than move past it; something they no doubt are ready for. 

"I'm definitely excited to pop champagne," Rosenthal said, grinning wide. "That was one of the most fun times of my career being able to do that with the guys, just that bond. That's what it's all about and that's what we're here for. When the hard work can pay off and the privilege to even be a part of that you have to take advantage of it and celebrate it." 

JJ Bailey covers the Cardinals for KMOV.com and the BaseballStL app. Follow him on twitter @jungborednbroke and on @baseballstl_app for updates. 

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