Youth-filled Cardinals grab division title -

Youth-filled Cardinals grab division title

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By Scott Bierman By Scott Bierman

(BaseballStL) -- When the Cardinals popped open the champagne and Budweiser bottles after Friday’s 7-0 win over the Cubs clinched the Central division, it wouldn’t be too farfetched to check IDs of some of the players partaking in the celebration.

After all, the Cardinals probably wouldn’t have won their first division title since 2009 without the bulk of its rookie core.

“Hopefully they don’t check IDs to get into the playoffs,” Trevor Rosenthal, 23, said.

It will be the second trip to the postseason for Rosenthal, who has appeared in 93 games over his first two years in the majors.

“It’s crazy, you look around and most of the guys coming up have gone through the organization and the guys that are doing well are guys that have been drafted by the Cardinals,” Rosenthal added. “It’s a cool feeling.”

The Cardinals have a major league-best 36 wins from its rookie pitchers. The team has used 20 rookies in total, the most since using 21 in 1970.

“The young guys came up and did their thing,” Adam Wainwright said. “The old guys continued to do what we’ve been doing for awhile. We’re just having fun.”

It’s been a different feel for Wainwright, who has been a part of two World Series winning clubs for St. Louis.

“Just a much younger team than what I’ve been on,” Wainwright said. “There’s a good mix of veteran players and older players and even our veteran players are kind of young too so it’s a good mix.”

Who are you rooting for in the NL Wild Card game? Share your thoughts.

After clubbing his ninth home run of the season, 2011 World Series hero David Freese credits the manager, who is also young for his job description.

“We’ve been through so much and it starts with the veterans,” Freese said. “Mike Matheny does such a great job of being even-keel, trusting his players to go out there and play. We obviously can have our ups and downs. We just keep battling. Mike’s our leader, he’s our true leader and it shows.”

The postseason berth gave Matheny, 43, a special honor: he’s the first Cardinals manager to make the postseason in each of his first two years as a major league manager. He’s the eighth manager all-time to do so and the first since Ron Gardenhire in 2002-04.

“There needs to be an asterisk next to it because of the way we got in last year with the new wild card spots,” Matheny said. “There’s been a lot of great coaches and managers to come through here. I’m honored to be in that group. It comes down to a lot of good people around here and not just players -- all of the support staff, our coaching staff.”

The Cardinals won their 24th division title, and ninth National League Central title. Friday’s win also tied a record for the most wins in a season at the new Busch Stadium with 52 wins.

Scott Bierman covers the Cardinals, Rams and Blues for and its associated mobile apps (BaseballStL, FootballStL and HockeyStL). You can follow him on Twitter @Scott_Bierman.

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