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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Reflecting on a great season of Cardinal baseball

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  • The baseball season is over. The St. Louis Cardinals were unable to force a Game 7 and failed in their quest for a 12th World Series championship. But looking back at the season as a whole, there was a lot of success.
    Here are five reasons to celebrate the 2013 Cardinals.
    1. The 19th World Series appearance in franchise history
    One year after missing out on a World Series berth, the Cardinals made it back to the Fall Classic for the second time in three years and the fourth time in eight years. In the NLDS, the Cardinals trailed the Pirates 2-1 and came back to win the next two to advance. In the NLCS the Cardinals beat Clayton Kershaw TWICE, winning the series in six games. In the World Series, the Cardinals fell to Boston 4-2, but did manage one win in front of the home town faithful. The Cardinals also won the National League Central while owning the NL's best record.
    2. Adam Wainwright
    In his first year back from Tommy John Surgery, Wainwright had a good year, going 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA in 198.2 innings. But, now two years removed from surgery, Wainwright was back at pre-surgery form. He is the unquestioned ace of the staff. Wainwright lead the National League in innings pitched (241.2) and complete games (5) while tying for the lead in wins (19) and shutouts (2). He did all of that while walking just 35 batters and striking out 219 to go with an ERA of 2.94. The innings pitched and strikeouts were career-highs for Wainwright.
    3. The arrival of Matt Carpenter
    Coming into spring, Carpenter was asked to learn a new position. A third baseman by trade who had learned to play first and the corner outfield spots for St. Louis, Carpenter was now learning second base. Carpenter not only learned to play the position, but he excelled at it, earning an All Star selection. In addition, the young second baseman lead the National League in hits (199), doubles (55), and runs scored (126) while batting leadoff the majority of the season.
    4. The young arms
    Trevor Rosenthal, Shelby Miller, Michael Wacha, Seth Maness, and Kevin Siegrist all burst on to the scene and succeeded this season.
    In the rotation, Miller won 15 games. Wacha nearly pitched a no-hitter in his final start of the regular season against the Nationals and came close to throwing one in his post season debut against the Pirates. In all, Wacha won four games for the Cardinals in the postseason, matching his regualr season total.
    Rosenthal took over the closer's job at the end of the season and dominated. Twice he struck out the side in the post season, once in the World Series. Maness came out of no-where to be a double play inducing machine for the Cardinals. When the big out was needed, Maness was there to get it.
    Page 2 of 2 - This doesn't even include the development of fireballer Carlos Martinez who finished the season as a top set up guy in the bullpen or the success Joe Kelly had in the rotation.
    5. Success through injuries
    With all the success the Cardinals had in 2013, think of whom they were missing.
    The Cardinals were without former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter, closer Jason Motte, and short stop Rafael Furcal all season. Jaime Garcia missed most of the season and Allen Criag missed the final month of the regular season (but was never actually placed on the DL). The Redbirds even lost Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday to stints on the disabled list. Additionally, David Freese, Matt Adams, Jake Westbrook, Fernando Salas, Shane Robinson, Tony Cruz, and John Gast spent time on the DL during the season as well.
    When Motte was lost, Edward Mujica came out of nowhere to dominate the closer's spot for most of the season. With Furcal out, Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso filled in at short. When Craig went down, Adams stepped up. Wacha and Miller joined the rotation and didn't miss a beat.
    The Cardinals are a well stocked organization and have a bright future ahead of them.
    Nobody wants to be on the losing end of the World Series, but to make it there says something about the makeup of the team. Everyone though tthe Cardinals would spiral downhill when former MVP first baseman Albert Pujols left via free agency and manager Tony La Russa retired. But that has not been the case. The Cardinals have thrived and are poised to remain atop the National League for many years to come.

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