Woohoo! Cards clinch the NLDS and avoid a trip back to San Diego. Even though I had tickets for tomorrow’s game and was looking forward to my first game in Petco Park, I couldn’t be happier. Obviously, momentum would have been against us if the Padres knotted the series today and went back home.
I was so tense watching this game that I wished I had a rally towell to bite on. The first inning was terrifying. Carp walked in a run?? It just didn’t seem possible. I began to wonder: is that Jason Marquis in Chris Carpenter’s uniform? I did feel relieved when we were only down by 2 runs after that shaky start, and even better when Belliard came through with a clutch hit to drive in 2 runs. It was a new ballgame.
Carp was masterful through the next 5 innings. He got some help from great defense, particularly Molina nailing Roberts on his attempt to steal. And then we were able to break things wide open with a big 6th inning that began with Pujols walking. Albert makes thing happen even when he’s not hitting. The bullpen held the lead, even if Wainwright created a little drama by giving up 2 hits in the 9th. It seems everyone contributed to this great win.
Our Redbirds are playing like champions and seem to have forgetten their mediocre regular season record. Players like Weaver, Spiezio, and Belliard, who I’ve been guilty of dismissing as "rejects from other teams", have come through big for us. We have a lot of guys who haven’t been to the playoffs before, and they are playing like they don’t want to get off the ride before it ends in the World Series. I know we’re big underdogs against the Mets, and I have great respect for their team. After all, I lived in Queens for a couple of years and used to root for them a bit. But, hey, if the Yankees can get eliminated in the first round…if our bullpen can give up 0 runs in these 4 games…and if So Taguchi can hit a homer yesterday, anything can happen!