And that, dear friends, is what you call a Signature Moment.
Adam Wainwright was the man, the force of nature, the irresistible force the Redbirds needed him to be tonight, and the Cardinals sent the Pittsburgh Pirates home to the Steel City instead of on to Los Angeles.
First off, congratulations to the Pirates, and their fans, and the city of Pittsburgh in general. It's been a long time coming, and finally the Buccos are truly relevant again. I could certainly learn to dislike this Pirate team and their fans, and I mean that in absolutely the best way possible.
Now, on to the good stuff. Our team is headed back to the NLCS for a third straight year, doing it with an ever-changing cast of characters, with only a few lynchpin players (and the results, of course), holding steady season after season. I was texting a friend of mine as the game ended, and I said that as much as I hate to say it, I can kind of understand why baseball fans in other cities might dislike the Cardinals, viewing them in much the same way the Yankees have been. After all, since 2000, the Cardinals have now made it to the NLCS in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, and now 2013. Eight times in fourteen years the NLCS has included El Birdos. If I didn't love this team, I might hate them too.
Big questions for the next series:
- Can Matt Carpenter get back on track? He hit the ball better tonight than he had for most of the series, but it was still a really tough series for the Cards' second baseman extraordinaire. They managed to squeak past the Pirates without their leadoff hitter doing what he's done all season; I'm not sure they can take the Dodgers down if Carpenter isn't getting on base consistently.
- The rotation. I have a hard time picturing Lance Lynn taking the mound in the NLCS as a starter after his game two outing, but I suppose stranger things have happened. The Cards don't have the luxury of setting up their rotation in an optimal way, unfortunately. I think we almost have to see Shelby Miller in a much more prominent role this upcoming series than we did against Pittsburgh.