Tag Archive | "Busch Stadium"

Peter Bourjos Q & A: Learning A New Home & ‘The Catch’

One of the consistent questions around the Cardinals in recent years has been if they will upgrade in center field. Often, the idea is around finding a new bat for the position, however when the opportunity presented itself to make such a move, John Mozeliak went in the opposite direction by acquiring one of the most renown outfield gloves in the game, which is the one that Peter Bourjos brings with him.

Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

While his reputation was already set coming into last June, but he affirmed it with one of the most athletic catches in recent memory on a long shot by Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. And while explaining it could be the way to go, reliving it is a much livelier experience:

The 26-year-old has frequented highlight reels since debuting with the Angels in 2010, and has was good enough with the glove for manager Mike Scioscia to keep Mike Trout relegated to left field when Bourjos made it to the lineup. His combination of speed and fearless tracking on anything hit into the outfield is a big addition to a Cardinal team that has struggled in both outfield range and speed of any sort for a number of years.

I-70 got a chance to speak one-on-one with the newest addition to the Cardinal outfield mix on Monday. He discussed ‘the play’ that put him on the map, his approach to doing what seems improbable in the field and how he is preparing to make a regular impact in the Busch Stadium terrain.

 

I-70: A play that is really noted with you is the catch against the Orioles last year, where you went back to the fence and seemingly defied gravity to bring back an easy home run. What comes to your mind in a moment like that?

Bourjos: You kind of space out and forget about the ball, and that’s the key. You can be afraid of hitting the wall, and on that particular play I timed the jump and it was just me and the ball. I really had no thoughts in my head at all.

I-70: When you look at a park like Busch Stadium that you’ve never played in before, how do you go out and get a feel for how to approach what you need to do for positioning yourself and getting familiar with it?

Bourjos: I think you have to work on that in batting practice. Feel the dimensions out, where the warning track is and how padded the wall is. All of those things go into account with getting your work in and learning from the other guys as well.

I-70: Have you been to the Stadium yet?

Bourjos: I went over a few weeks ago, but it was covered in snow so I didn’t get to see it much, but it is a beautiful stadium.

I-70: When you get to camp, are you looking forward to getting with Matt and Allen and the other outfielders to get a feel for how they approach the field and what their range is to gauge what will be needed of you.

Bourjos: Yeah, there’s a comfort level with your other outfielders, and even the middle infielders, about what they can get to, and having that relationship about what they can get to on certain balls.

I-70: A lot of how busy you are has to do with the type of game that is being pitched as well. How excited are you to play behind a pitching staff like the Cardinals features?

Bourjos: Oh, I can’t wait. Obviously, there’s not going to be as many balls to run down because the staff is so good. Occasionally there’s going to be lazy fly balls more than likely. We had a pretty good staff earlier on in my career in Anaheim, and there wasn’t a lot to do out there, and boring is good because that means that the pitchers are doing their job.

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Seven Point Preview For Cardinals/Dodgers NLCS

Tonight, the National League Championship Series kicks off at Busch Stadium, in an ironic scenario. It pits the best team, by record, in the St. Louis Cardinals versus the best team, in the view of the odds makers, in the Los Angeles Dodgers. This could be seen as a slight to a Cardinal team that not only finished with the best record in the NL, but tied for the best in all of the baseball, but the Dodgers are a bit more than just their record.

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After a desperately terrible start, the Dodgers played insane baseball over the second half of the season, finishing with a winning percentage of .665 after June. They pulled from the bottom of the NL West to winning their division by 11 games, the largest margin of any in baseball. Yet, they find themselves facing four games on the road against the best October franchise in baseball over the last three seasons, and it is the type of series where intangibles and talent collide, to make for a narrow decision.

So who has the edge: the hottest team in baseball or the most proven team in it? Here’s how it shakes out:

Starting Lineup: The Cardinals led the NL in runs scored this season, owed mostly to the new high mark they set hitting with runners in scoring position. As a team, they hit .330 on the year, and had five batters drive in over 75 runs on the season. Save for the injured Allen Craig, four everyday Cardinals hit over .296, with high marks of .319 and .318 from Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter.

For the Dodgers, the production was spread around. Hanley Ramirez hit .345 in 304 at-bats between a series of injuries, while Yasiel Puig hit .319 on the year after debuting in June, adding in 19 home runs, 21 doubles and 11 stolen bases. From the Opening Day Dodgers, Adrian Gonzalez led the team in the Triple Crown categories, with a .293/22/100 split on the year.

The Cardinals have the best everyday ensemble left in the game, as well as a knack for finding hits when they are needed. LA conversely has more talent in the everyday lineup, but without Andre Ethier or Matt Kemp healthy, it simply isn’t a more threatening lineup as a whole. Advantage: Cardinals.

Starting Pitching: Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw are the best back-to-back duo of starting arms in the game, and are the greatest advantage the Dodgers have on their side. Throughout the year, they combined to go 31-13, with a 2.17 ERA and 380 strikeouts. But depth is also the Dodgers ally, as Ricky Nolasco, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano all providing an intriguing matchup options as well.

Everything is based around Adam Wainwright for the Cardinals, but this time it won’t be able to start with him. There is a chance that he will be surrounded by three rookies in Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha and Shelby Miller in the Cardinals NLCS rotation. They are not average, but well-tested youngsters that won’t be intimidated in the moment, but will carry a heavy burden.

St. Louis is high on talent, but clearly outmatched against the two former Cy Young winners, which are slated to start four of the seven potential games in the series. Their best hope is to spring an upset against one, ride Wainwright’s opportunities and win the swing game that pits starter four vs. four. Advantage: Dodgers.

Bullpen: St. Louis relies most heavily on its young arms out of its bullpen, where no less than four can factor into any game, including the ninth inning, which has been inherited by Trevor Rosenthal (108 strikeouts in 75.1 innings, 29 holds). The presence of former closers-turned-fill in arms Edward Mujica (37 2013 saves) and John Axford give the Cardinals a solid group of mid-to-late game options, albeit with some risk.

The Dodgers rely on mix of proven specialists, closers and pure flame throwers. Kenley Jenson threw the second most pitches over 100 mph in the MLB this year after Aroldis Chapman, and closed out 28 of 32 save opportunities after moving to the ninth inning in early June. Joined by a resurgent Brian Wilson (0.66 ERA) and JP Howell (.164 average against by lefties) and they have a tough crew to crack.

The Cardinals pen has been solid throughout the year, but somewhat unnerving of late in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have a bevy of options that miss bats easily, and instant outs are huge in the playoffs. Advantage: Dodgers.

Defense: Despite some notably limited players in Matt Holliday and David Freese in the starting lineup, the Cardinals can field. They tied of the least amount of team errors and the best fielding percentage in the National League this season. This is due in part to a strong quad up the middle of Molina, Jon Jay, Matt Carpenter and Pete Kozma.

The Dodgers conversely were not a good defensive team. Puig’s insertion in the outfield provided some much needed range, and AJ Ellis is a plus backstop, but they finished with the second most errors in the NL and wait more for strikeouts than created ones. Advantage: Cardinals.

Bench: Andre Ethier’s availability to play in the field is in question, but he can swing the bat still and is joined by Michael Young, who was acquired to add needed depth to the bench. These veteran presences loom huge in the Dodgers ability to create mismatches on-demand. Dee Gordon is instant speed boost, while Nick Punto is a defensive plus at three infield spots.

The Cardinals bench is not an offensive stock hold, after Matt Adams was forced into everyday action after the injury to Allen Craig deemed it necessary. However, Daniel Descalso and Shane Robinson are defensive bonuses that are an important part of the late game strategy for the offense-heavy Cardinal attack.

Despite the versatility of the Cardinal approach, LA’s ability to continue to create offense late in the game is major advantage that will be a factor throughout the series. Advantage: Dodgers

Manager: Mike Matheny’s major contribution in his second season leading the Cardinals has been to install the crucial team identity, as well as strategically groom the rookie base that much of the team is built around. However, he has grown as a strategist as well and uses his full roster to his advantage.

Don Mattingly has come a long way in just this season. He was one week away from losing his job when the Dodgers took off, and has become an essential part of holding together the big money, multi-personality team together.

With that said, Matheny holds an edge in the chemistry department, as well as the experience lane at this part of the calendar as well. He has already shown some positive adjustments from a year ago, and will take on a new personal distance mark in his career. Advantage: Cardinals

Injury Factor: There are two major injuries that holding both teams back from their full potential in the series. For the Dodgers, it is Matt Kemp, who only played only 73 games on the year. The team’s best player in name, but not much a part of the run the team took this season. Ethier’s foot injury is also compounding the Dodger situation, whereas he can’t be a part of the daily lineup, due to not being able to handle the demands of the field.

Conversely, the Cardinals are missing a major part of their success in Allen Craig. The run producing machine ran up 97 RBI and a hit a mind-blowing 59 for 130 on the year with runners in scoring position (.454). The absence of the All-Star first baseman has been padded by the presence of Adams, but he is an irreplaceable quantity in the steadiness of the Cardinal attack.

While the Cardinals are missing a major portion of their attack, the alternate option for the Cardinals is actually not as far of a step down as the Dodgers have faced without two-thirds of their best possible outfield. Advantage: Cardinals.

Intangibles: Momentum is everything in the postseason, and both teams come into the series with plenty. The Cardinals will be fresh off an inspiring effort from Wainwright to close out their NLDS series, and will be in front of the same home crowd buzz that it took place in. Conversely, the Dodgers will cross the country again after a similarly inspiring close out to their NLDS matchup, which concluded with Juan Uribe’s two-run, bottom of the 8th inning home run.

On the season, the Dodgers won the season’s seven game series, 4-3. Over the last month, including the playoffs, the Dodgers are 15-16, while the Cardinals are 22-10.

On the year, the Cardinals are 56-28 at Busch Stadium, and 44-39 elsewhere. At Dodger Stadium, LA is 49-34, while 45-37 on the road. Home games for the Cardinals are the biggest outstanding factor in the series for either side.

Summary: These are two teams with clear strengths, but close margins at the same time. Protecting home field advantage will be a task for the Cardinals, who will be confronted with Greinke and Kershaw in their own park, which is a powerful equalizer. Finding their groove in offense will be tough this way, for a team that has struggled to string together a consistent offering over the last week offensively, and they will need to get runs early in the game throughout the series to make it.

The Cardinals face an uphill battle from the start, but with two Dodger aces out of the way early, if they can split the first two games before sending Wainwright to the mound in game three, they have a chance to get a decisive advantage before the anything goes game four, and then the return of Greinke and Kershaw in games five and six. On paper it seems to be a long series ahead, but one with some very decisive pitfall chances early and often. The Cardinals take the edge in the head-to-head factors department 4-3, and have some important intangibles leaning in their favor as well. This bides well in their favor for a series that looks primed to go the full distance, and end in a Cardinal final advantage.

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Best record important, but St. Louis Cardinals should have Adam Wainwright ready to start playoffs

The St. Louis Cardinals will be the National League Central Division champions as they enter the playoffs, but where they begin the postseason is still an important mystery.

Wainwright

The Cardinals took a one-half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League into play Thursday when the Braves face the Philadelphia Phillies while the Cardinals wait to begin their final three-game series of the season at Busch Stadium against the Chicago Cubs.

As was the case in the Cardinals’ World Series championship season of 2011, they will face the worst team in the NL Central while the Braves play the Phillies. However, the Cardinals played the Houston Astros to close that season, and the Cardinals and Braves were fighting just to make the playoffs in 2011.

Now they are competing for the best record in the National League, which would guarantee them home-field advantage through the National League Championship Series.

The Cardinals don’t have Chris Carpenter to send to the mound in the final game of the season as they did two years ago, but they still have one of the best pitchers in the league ready to go in the final series, if necessary.

But here’s the thing. It is not necessary.

The Cardinals could pitch Adam Wainwright on Saturday, which would be his regularly scheduled day to start, or they could hold him back until Sunday if they need a win on the final day of the season to clinch the best record in the league.

However, if he pitches Sunday, that would put him on short rest to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series, and the Cardinals would almost certainly push him back to Game 2.

A third option would be to shut Wainwright down until the playoffs regardless, but that opens up a problem of too much rest if he goes from Monday until next Thursday between starts.

He will instead probably pitch Saturday or Sunday, and at this point Saturday would be the much better option.

Sure, the Cardinals might lost home-field advantage in the NLCS if they don’t win enough games against the Cubs this weekend, but with a playoff spot already in hand, the Cardinals would be more prudent to maximize their strategic advantages for the first round of the playoffs because there is no guarantee they will even make it the next round and be able to use what would be their home-field advantage.

At this point, Wainwright in Game 1 of the division series is more important than Wainwright on Sunday against the Cubs.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny can still use Wainwright on Saturday and then use a pitcher such as rookie Michael Wacha on Sunday. That setup would still give the Cardinals a legitimate chance to win and gain home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, but it would more importantly position Wainwright to pitch the first game of the playoffs.

Plus, a winning performance from Wainwright against the Cubs is far from certain. Wainwright has struggled against the Cubs more than any team throughout his career outside of the Atlanta Braves, which would arouse another whole set of questions for later in the playoffs.

Anyway, Wainwright as a career 4.44 earned-run average and a 7-6 record through the seven full seasons he has pitched in Major League Baseball.

So a win from Wainwright on Saturday and Sunday is not nearly as likely as one might first assume, even though the Cardinals are 28 games better than the Cubs heading into play Friday.

The Cardinals would be smart to let Wainwright pitch Saturday on normal rest and be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs instead of having him pitch Sunday and risk losing that game while also losing him until Game 2 of the division series.

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Home-field advantage could be vital for St. Louis Cardinals

Although the St. Louis Cardinals did not have full possession of first place in their own division heading into play Sunday, they were just three games away from having the best record in the National League, which could be a vital advantage come October.

Busch_Stadium Retired Numbers

The Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates had identical 86-62 records as of Sunday and both trailed the Atlanta Braves by three games for the best record in the league, which would guarantee them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, until the World Series, of course, because the American League won the All-Star Game in July.

But that nonsense aside, home-field advantage is a strong reward for having the best record. The term includes the word “advantage” for a reason. Part of what doomed the Cardinals in the 2012 National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants was the same factor that helped St. Louis win the World Series the year before.

Those winning teams played games 6 and 7 at home where they felt more comfortable and could feed off of the energy from their fans and the home environment.

Now, home-field advantage certainly does not guarantee success. The Cardinals won every postseason series in 2006 despite never having home-field advantage, and they beat the Washington Nationals in the 2012 division series even though the final three games were in Washington, D.C.

But home-field advantage certainly does help, and it could help the Cardinals this year more than normal, especially with the glut of young pitchers on the roster and potential postseason starters in second-year pitchers Lance Lynn and Joe Kelly, and rookies Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha.

Along with a much better record against teams below the .500 mark, the Cardinals other lopsided record is their home and away splits.

St. Louis has played 20 games above .500 at Busch Stadium compared to four games above .500 on the road. Not surprisingly, their stats fall in line with those records.

The Cardinals hit for a .271 batting average at home compared to .260 on the road, but the bigger difference is how the pitching staff performs in away games. The Cardinals’ staff has a 3.29 earned-run average in home games but a 3.73 ERA on the road.

It would also be important for the Cardinals to finish with the best record in the National League because their potential postseason opponents have even more dramatic home and road splits.

The NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers pitch to a 3.13 ERA at home compared to 3.47 on the road, and the NL East-leading Braves have a National League-best 2.47 home ERA but a 3.70 ERA away from Turner Field.

The only aspect of the game that would benefit a road team is the Dodgers offense, which hits .258 at Dodger Stadium and a Major League Baseball-best .274 on the road.

The Cardinals also lost three of their four games at home to the Dodgers in early August, but that was also during a stretch when they lost 13 of 17 games that included a three-game sweep by the Braves in Atlanta.

Once the Cardinals got their season back together, they took three of four from the Braves in late August at Busch Stadium. They have also won six of nine games against the Pirates at home while losing seven of 10 in Pittsburgh. Against the third-place team in the NL Central, the Cincinnati Reds, the Cardinals have also won six of nine home games and split the away games 5-5.

The Cardinals are nearly guaranteed a spot in the 2013 playoffs and have an excellent chance to win the NL Central with just one opponent with a winning record, the Washington Nationals, remaining.

But they also still have a chance to catch the Braves for the best record in the National League, and that accomplishment could make a large difference in which team represents the league in the World Series.

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Previewing the Cardinals 2014 Schedule

Yesterday afternoon, the Cardinals released the details of their schedule for the 2014 season. After some of the adjustments made to the scheduling process in the first year of the balanced schedules, there were plenty of new elements to get used to. Constant interleague match ups, two game “natural rivalry” series, an increase in four-game stands and increased divisional play all changed the course of the season and the weight of each ballgame.

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Next spring will be the ninth season for Busch Stadium III, as well as the inaugural year for Ballpark Village. But looking ahead inside the park, there are new challenges on the horizon for the Cardinals. Most notably, the interleague alignment will pit the baseball’s two most competitive divisions from this season against each other, as the National League Central will face off against the American League East.  This will undoubtedly create a much tougher road throughout the season, yet create a number of attractive match ups, both a current and historical sense.

Also, the I-70 Series vs the Kansas City Royals will remain in the fold, as the two-and-two format will remain in place, with two consecutive series in each team’s home ballpark.

Unlike this year, the team will play a heavier home schedule before the All-Star Break with 48 home games at Busch Stadium before the July 14-17 Mid-Summer Classic, and another 33 after. While announcements on ticket availability, promotions and game times will come in the future, here are a few of the highlights and series of note for the upcoming season.

  • The season opens March 31 in Cincinnati with a three game series against the Reds, before moving on to Pittsburgh for a three-game weekend set.
  • Opening Day in St. Louis is Monday, April 7 versus the Reds for the second consecutive season
  • April 11-13: First home series versus the Chicago Cubs
  • May 2-4: First weekend trip to Wrigley Field
  • Longest Homestand: From May 12-June 3, the team plays only three games away from Busch
  • Interleague visits to Busch: The New York Yankees visit Busch from May 26-28, the Tampa Bay Rays for a two game series July 22-23 and the Boston Red Sox from August 5-7.
  • Interleague Travels: The Toronto Blue Jays June 6-8, Tampa Bay Rays June 10-11 and to Baltimore to face the Orioles August 8-10.
  • I-70 Series: The Kansas City Royals come to Busch from June 2-3, and the Cardinals go to Kansas City June 4-5.
  • Holiday home stands: Memorial Day versus Yankees, Fourth of July (vs. Miami Marlins) and Labor Day (September 1 vs. Pirates)
  • The final home stand of the season is a nine game stand against the Colorado Rockies, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds from September 12-21.
  • The season ends visiting the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 28.

 

 

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Cardinals Announce Postseason Ticket Process

2013Postseason

ST. LOUIS – September 10, 2013 – The St. Louis Cardinals announced details regarding the process for fans to purchase postseason tickets.  Wild Card Game and Division Series tickets will go on sale this Thursday, September 12th. Details for ticket sales for each round are as follows:

  • Wild Card Game: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, September 12th.  Tickets will be available at cardinals.com, via phone at 314-345-9000, and at the Busch Stadium ticket windows on 8th Street. No pre-registration is required to purchase.
  • Division Series: Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Thursday, September 12th.  Tickets will be available at cardinals.com, via phone at 314-345-9000, and at the Busch Stadium ticket windows on 8th Street. No pre-registration is required to purchase.
  • N. L. Championship Series: Online Registration for the chance to purchase NLCS tickets begins Friday, September 13th and concludes on Thursday, September 19, 2013. Winners of the random drawing will be notified via e-mail on Friday, September 20, 2013.  Tickets will go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, September 24th. There is a four (4) ticket limit for one (1) NLCS game.
  • World Series: Online Registration for the chance to purchase World Series tickets begins on Friday, September 13th and concludes on Wednesday, October 9, 2013.  Winners of the random drawing will be notified via e-mail on Thursday, October 10, 2013, and ticket sales will begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, October 15, 2013. There is a two (2) ticket limit for one (1) World Series game.

Complete details and rules for the random drawing and purchases are available at cardinals.com/postseason. The exact number of seats available is unknown until the Cardinals receive commitments from Season Ticket Holders and Major League Baseball.  Announcements regarding potential Tiebreaker game ticket availability and public purchase will come at a later date.

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Jay Reignites Cardinals While Quieting Critics

It was not too long ago that the mere mention of Jon Jay’s name sparked a conversation about every way that he could be replaced. But within the last few weeks, nobody has been more responsible for the turnaround of the Cardinals than him. And now, with the Cardinals back to a comfortable 20 games over .500 and firmly on the heels of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Jay continues to be the most unlikely, occasionally most undesirable, catalyst of the year.

Jay_

From the beginning, Jay has been a bit of a stepbrother. He slid into becoming a full-time part of the lineup two years after Colby Rasmus was hastily escorted out of Busch Stadium boundaries. And starting then and since, he’s proved his worth as a stabilizer of sorts for the team. Whether it has been as a leadoff or bottom of the order bat, or making the quick transition from plug in corner outfielder, to major landowner in an outfield devoid of much range otherwise, Jay has been a glue stick for the Cardinals over the past three years.

But despite all of this, there has been no player that has been outwardly yearned to be replaced more than Jay has over the past two years. He’s the most pedestrian of the regular Cardinals, and an era of Trouts, McCutchens and Harpers, the public opinion search for more in middle of the outfield has singled out Jay as the odd man out. Whether it is idea that Carlos Beltran could have something left in the tank to take to centerfield, a trade needs to be made or that Oscar Taveras is already much better suited for the team already, there are no shortage of reasons of somebody, anybody, else should be in his place.

But in the month of August, there’s been no more impactful of a player on the roster. For the month, his 26 hits are tied for the most in the National League, and he leads the Cardinals with a .377 average and 15 RBI in 18 games. The bottom-line: when Jay got going, the team started looking like it had a clue again. July was the worst month of the season for the team, and it wasn’t until their season-worst losing streak hit seven games, that an understated two hit game by Jay got at least one part of the lineup moving.

It was the first of what are now nine multi-hit games Jay has accumulated over the past 20 days. And it seems that the multitude of hits have all come at just the right time. He scored three runs and drove in two more in the 13-0 win in Pittsburgh which ended the club’s slide on August 1st. Then next night he turned in his second three RBI night of the season, contributing to second straight 13 run night for an offense that had scored just 10 runs over the previous week. The next week, he turned in three, three-hit games before plating a career-best four hit effort versus the Pirates back at Busch, which included him scoring the game winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning in a tight slide continued the club’s recent run of tough wins over their immediate superiors in the Central. In the last two days, he’s even added power to his recent show, notching home runs in back-to-back games for the second time in his career.

It’s been a tedious process, but Jay is quieting the bad-tempered mob against him. While has had a year that’s mostly been below the standard he’s set at the plate, his timing has once again been impeccable. He’s now at a career-best 54 RBI, and his on-pace for new high marks in runs scored, doubles and hits. And in a season where on average, four All-Stars are in the daily mix, it’s been the ultimate role player that’s stepped up the highest when nobody else could answer the call.

Sometimes, less truly is more.

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Wacha-Wright? Repackaging for the stretch run

Michael Wacha’s back and forth season for the St. Louis Cardinals has now taken a new turn, as it comes full circle to where his pro career began – the bullpen. Yet, the future of the starting rotation could be one of the brightest parts of the end of the game as well, and do so in a familiar fashion.

Michael-Wacha

Go back to 2006 and find another young starter-turned-reliever out of necessity, Adam Wainwright. At the time, he was making his way along as a middle relief arm, but when inning struck Jason Isringhausen and the ninth inning, he was thrust into late inning action and responded resoundingly. Over the final two months of the season, the rookie turned masterful closer, notching seven saves while surrendering only three earned runs across 21.2 innings total between the regular and postseason. He then returned the next season and turned his sights towards a now fairly notable career as a starter and never looked back.

Fast forward seven years.

Wacha, who brought an even higher amount of notability along with him to the Busch Stadium mound is in his second trip to St. Louis of the season. After making a spot start amid the restructuring of the Cardinal rotation, he is now getting settled in the bullpen, where he will be used in what manager Mike Matheny describes as “high leverage situations”. What exactly that will be could be defined variously. While it is not likely to be as high profile of a gig as Wainwright landed, it could still call some some quite high leverage spots. Whether in a structured role in the fashion of Edward Mujica from a year ago, or if it is in randomly tight situations in the same fashion as Trevor Rosenthal a year ago or Seth Maness currently, there are number of places Matheny  could insert his highly touted rookie. Luckily enough, he is not unaccustomed to a late inning role; last year only one run was managed against him during stops in Palm Beach and Springfield, good for a 0.56 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 16 innings, all while helping Springfield close out the Texas League title.

That was an efficiency that the rookie carried over into his first big league camp, where he continued his dominant ways, striking out 15 in 11 innings spread out over five appearances. And while he broke camp and headed towards Memphis to hone his craft as a starter, John Mozeliak left the door open for Wacha to contribute in any role the club may need, and now he is primed to be a part of the teams all hands on deck approach to using its top arms down the stretch.

Whatever the role, it is one that Wacha will have an opportunity to make a much needed impact. At the point he is at now, the minors are doing no good for his development, yet there is no room (or reason) for him to be a starter. He needs to work in the majors, develop his arsenal and more importantly than anything else, be a difference maker for a team that’s in need of them. The more weapons, the merrier at this point in the year, and for a Cardinal team that decided staying completely internal at the trade deadline was their best bet, the idea is now clear that Wacha is ready to be additional arm that the big league club would need.

He was wasted no time in proving that he could be the right man for that role, striking out four of the six batters he faced over two perfect innings on Wednesday night. Showcasing the plus change up he’s known for, as well as flashing good location on his fastball, he showed why there was the unparalleled buzz he created in the spring existed, and why going ahead, he could be a blast from a not so distant, yet familiar, past.

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Ballpark Village Parking Lot Now Open

ST. LOUIS (August 6, 2013) – The St. Louis Cardinals and the Cordish Companies announced today that more than 400 parking spaces within Ballpark Village are now available for fans looking for game day parking.

BallparkVillage

“This is a significant construction milestone that will improve the game-day experience by providing additional convenient parking for our fans,” said William DeWitt III, President of the St. Louis Cardinals. “It is exciting to see the daily construction progress on Ballpark Village as we all look forward to Opening Day 2014.”

The development team, which broke ground on Ballpark Village in February of this year, has completed construction of a majority of the surface parking lot, as well as a significant portion of the overall infrastructure for the 10-acre development.  The development team has also completed most of the structural steel work on the first phase of Ballpark Village, which is on schedule to be completed by Opening Day 2014.

Some additional paving work will be completed over the next few weeks.  Public parking for games is available for $20.   For more information regarding parking hours, operation, rates and the availability of monthly parking, the public should contact St. Louis Parking at 314.341.7777 or info@stlouisparking.com.  Fans can learn more about Ballpark Village, as well as track construction progress at cardinals.com/bpv. Fans can join the social conversation with #bpv.

Ballpark Village (#bpv)
The construction of Ballpark Village represents the next step in the Cardinals’ vision for their investment in downtown St. Louis that began with the opening of the privately financed, $411 Busch Stadium in 2006. Ballpark Village is a mixed-use retail, entertainment, office, and residential district being developed in partnership by the St. Louis Cardinals and the Cordish Companies. Spanning seven city blocks on the 10-acre site just north of Busch Stadium, Ballpark Village will be the country’s first fully integrated mixed-use development designed to deliver the excitement and energy of the game day experience to a new neighborhood outside the stadium walls.

The Cordish Companies
For generations, the Cordish family has grown The Cordish Companies into one of the world’s leading real estate development companies and a diverse group of successful entertainment-operating businesses. Cordish Companies’ entertainment and mixed-use projects include the Kansas City Power & Light District, Louisville Fourth Street Live, and The Power Plant & Pier IV in Baltimore.

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St. Louis Cardinals season could be defined by upcoming road trip

The St. Louis Cardinals have embarked on one of their longest, and undoubtedly toughest, road trips of the season to face the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds for 11 games in 10 days that will give the team a chance to measure itself against the National League’s best and give a preview of what type of competition the team will face in the playoffs.

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After three games Friday through Sunday against the Braves, the Cardinals will head to Pittsburgh for five games in four games, including a doubleheader to make up for a rainout April 16, and finish with three games the following weekend in Cincinnati.

The Cardinals were 10.5 games from falling out of a playoff spot as they began the first game of the trip Friday in Atlanta because of the two possible wild-card spots Major League Baseball introduced in 2012, so this road trip won’t determine whether or not they’ll make the playoffs, but it could help show how much success the team could have once it gets there.

The Braves, Pirates and Reds had a combined 176-129 record heading into play Friday, which is by far the best combined record the Cardinals will face at any point in the 2013 season. All three are likely headed toward the playoffs. The Braves lead the NL East by eight games over the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Pirates and Reds hold both of the NL wild-card spots.

This road trip will also give the Cardinals a chance to prove they can play with the best teams in baseball. So far, St. Louis has built its best record in baseball at 62-37 on the backs of losing teams. The Cardinals are 48-21 against teams with losing records and 14-16 against winning teams.

The Cardinals have a very good team, no doubt, but aside from various injuries and a first half with a schedule full of away games, the Cardinals have not had to face much adversity in the form of good teams that were on a roll when the Cardinals played them.

The Texas Rangers swept St. Louis June 21-13 at Busch Stadium, and the Oakland A’s took two of three from the Cardinals the next weekend in Oakland. Otherwise, the Cardinals had been fortunate to play teams in the middle of their own struggles.

The Los Angeles Dodgers were near closer to the bottom of the NL West than the top when the Cardinals won two of three May 24-26 in Los Angeles, and although the San Francisco Giants had not dropped to the bottom of that division when the Cardinals played them in April and May, the Cardinals’ 4-2 record against them doesn’t look as impressive now that the Giants are 46-55 and eight games behind the now first-place Dodgers.

The Cardinals played much of the rest of their early season schedule against losing teams such as the Chicago Cubs (10 games), Milwaukee Brewers (10 games), New York Mets (seven games) and Houston Astros (four games).

The Mets have the best record of those four teams at 46-53, 11 games out of a playoff spot, and none of those teams will try to add players at the trading deadline to make a push toward the playoffs.

So for the first time this season, the Cardinals will start to get a feel for what the competition will be when they reach October.

The Cardinals won’t be in danger of missing the playoffs based on this road trip even if they lose most of these 11 games, but this 10-day stretch will likely expose whether the Cardinals really should be favorites to win the World Series or if they are a team that has simply taken advantage of poor teams’ mistakes.

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