Cardinals Look to Build Off Last October’s Near-Miss - The Missourian: Sports

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Cardinals Look to Build Off Last October’s Near-Miss

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Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 12:00 am

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One more win. After again hitting their stride in October, the St. Louis Cardinals got tantalizingly close to making it back to the World Series.

Instead, three straight losses to San Francisco led to an agonizing offseason of what-ifs, and has served as a driving force all spring for a team deemed good enough to contend without any major roster upgrades.

Adam Wainwright, now the unquestioned ace of the rotation, won’t be letting last fall’s failures go anytime soon. That the Giants swept the Tigers after climbing out of a 3-1 NL championship series hole against St. Louis made it even worse.

“You never know, but we didn’t give ourselves a chance, and that just really bothers me,” Wainwright said. “We had the team to do it, we had the lead to do it.”

Heading in, whatever manager Mike Matheny’s club got out of the postseason was a bonus. But once the Cardinals took advantage of the brand new second wild card, surviving a tense one-game playoff at Atlanta, forcing a Nationals meltdown and putting the Giants in a series of must-wins, Wainwright doesn’t sugarcoat what happened next.

The Cardinals were outscored 20-1 the last three games, becoming the 12th team to blow a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series. They batted just .190 with 27 strikeouts while going 1 for 21 with runners in scoring position. Chris Carpenter, Lance Lynn and Kyle Lohse allowed 14 runs in 9 2-3 innings.

“We sort of choked, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that,” Wainwright said. “I think it’s true. We disappointed ourselves, we disappointed our fans. We thought we had the team to win it all and that’s why this year we’re coming in with a little bit extra motivation.”

Wainwright already had plenty, winding up the spring schedule with no agreement yet on a multiyear extension. He was 14-13 with a 3.94 ERA last season following reconstructive elbow surgery that cost him all of 2011, and both he and the club anticipate a return to the 2009-10 form in which he totaled 39 wins and twice contended for the NL Cy Young award.

The lanky right-hander is one of the keys on a team that appears to have a thin margin for error and is minus several big names. Since finishing a distant nine games back of Cincinnati in the NL Central, they’ve lost Carpenter — their long-time ace — perhaps for good, All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal to season-ending elbow reconstruction and 16-game winner Kyle Lohse to Milwaukee in free agency.

Setup man Mitchell Boggs opens the season as the closer with Jason Motte, sidelined late in camp by a forearm injury. And they’ve added no key pieces, with lefty reliever Randy Choate and right-handed bench bat Ty Wigginton the lone pickups.

Plus, 2011 World Series MVP David Freese is starting the season on the disabled list with a lower back strain.

“We didn’t really do much and I didn’t think we needed to,” said utilityman Matt Carpenter, who added second base to his resume after appearing at five positions last year. “We had a great group of guys that competed, we were one win away from a World Series and we’re looking to bounce back this year.

“If we do what were capable of doing, I think we’ll be happy with where we end up.”

Long term, the Cardinals appear to be in strong shape. The farm system features 20-year-old outfielder Oscar Taveras and second basemen Kolten Wong, both of whom appear close to contending for jobs, in addition to a flock of power arms.

The prognosis for this year is clouded by the fact a lot of those kids are getting plugged in now.

Shelby Miller beat out Joe Kelly as the young arms competed for the fifth rotation spot, and Trevor Rosenthal nabbed a bullpen job off a scintillating October in which he struck out 15 in just 8 2-3 innings.

Former first-round draft pick Pete Kozma, something of a disappointment in the minors, earned the shortstop job. He entered spring training as the third option behind Furcal, whose bid to rehab a torn elbow ligament without an operation failed, and veteran free agent pickup Ronny Cedeno, who was released.

Kozma, who batted .333 last September, figures to bat eighth in one of the National League’s most potent offenses.

Matt Holliday is a perennial .300 average-100 RBI man, Allen Craig nearly had 100 RBIs in just over two-thirds of a season and 37-year-old Carlos Beltran just missed that milestone after a second-half fade that reinforces the notion he’ll need plenty of rest.

Yadier Molina is the NL’s top defensive catcher and perhaps its best at the plate, too, after reaching career bests with 22 homers and 76 RBIs and a .315 average last year. Freese, the third baseman, is a 20-homer guy batting seventh.

“We’re all very excited about what this group can do,” second baseman Daniel Descalso said. “We’re definitely going to miss some of the faces that are gone and I think some guys are going to have to step up, but we saw some guys step up last year and I expect the same thing this year.”

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Area Scoreboard

Area Sports Schedule

American Legion Baseball

Ninth District Senior Legion Tournament

Thursday, July 17

At Westhoff Park

G1 (1) West 11, (8) Pacific 1

G2 (4) St. Charles 17, (5) Elsberry 2

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G3 (3) Washington 4, (6) Wentzville 0

G4 (2) Daniel Boone 8, (7) St. Peters 2

Friday, July 18

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G5 Elsberry 8, Pacific 3

G6 St. Peters 9, Wentzville 1

At Westhoff Park

G7 St. Charles 4, West 1

G8 Daniel Boone 7, Washington 4

Saturday, July 19

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G9 Washington 9, Elsberry 4

G10 West 9, St. Peters 6

G12 West 14, Washington 1

At Westhoff Park

G11 St. Charles def. Daniel Boone (fft)

Sunday, July 20

Rest at Westhoff Park

G13 Championship — West 2, St. Charles 1 (13 innings)

Monday, July 21

G14 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 13, West 11

Zone 1 Senior Legion Tournament

At Lindenwood University, St. Charles

Thursday, July 24

G1 West 13, Daniel Boone Post 262 8

G2 Jefferson City Post 5 11, Hannibal Post 55 2

Friday, July 25

G3 West 11, St. Charles Post 312 1

G4 Daniel Boone 10, Hannibal 2

Saturday, July 26

G5 Jefferson City 9, West 2

G6 St. Charles 11, Daniel Boone 0

G7 West 6, St. Charles 2

Sunday, July 27

G8 Championship — West 11, Jefferson City 0

G9 If-Needed Game — Jefferson City 14, West 12

Jefferson City advances to state tournament in Sedalia.

Ninth District Junior Legion Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Union High School

G1 (1) Elsberry 3, (8) New Haven 0

At Ronsick Field

G4 (3) Washington 7, (6) Wentzville 1

G4 (2) Union 8, (7) Hannibal 1

At St. Peters Rec-Plex

G2 (5) St. Peters 8, (4) St. Charles 6

Wednesday, July 9

At New Haven

G5 Wentzville 4, New Haven 0

G6 St. Charles 8, Hannibal 7 (9 innings)

At Ronsick Field

G7 St. Peters 5, Elsberry 2

G8 Washington 2, Union 1

Remainder at Ronsick Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 Union 7, Wentzville 1

G10 Elsberry 3, St. Charles 2

Friday, July 11

G11 Washington 12, St. Peters 11 (10 innings)

G12 Elsberry 6, Union 3

Saturday, July 12

G13 Elsberry 4, St. Peters 3

G14 Championship — Washington 3, Elsberry 1

Washington wins district, to host Zone 1 Tournament at Borgia. Schedule below.

Junior Legion Zone 1 Tournament

At Borgia

Thursday, June 17

G1 Elsberry Post 226 10, Chillicothe Post 25 2

Friday, June 18

G2 Washington Post 218 5, Elsberry 1

G3 Chillicothe 5, Elsberry 4

Saturday, June 19

G4 Championship — Washington 16, Chillicothe 0 (5 innings)

Washington advances to State Tournament in Jackson.

Junior Legion State Tournament

At Jackson

Thursday, July 24

G1 Jackson 3, Springfield Glendale 2

G2 Eureka 7, Sedalia 0

Friday, June 25

G3 Jackson 8, Washington 3

G4 Springfield Glendale 8, Sedalia 3

G5 Jackson 4, Eureka 2

G6 Washington 8, Springfield Glendale 0

Saturday, June 26

G7 Eureka 11, Washington 10 (9 innings)

G8 Championship — Jackson 7, Eureka 6

Jackson advances to Regional Tournament in Leavenworth, Kan.

Sunday, June 27

G9 If-Needed Game — G8 winner vs. G8 loser, 1 p.m.

Freshman Legion Ninth District Tournament

Tuesday, July 8

At Elsberry Legion Field

G1 (1) St. Charles 7, (8) St. Peters 0

G2 (4) Elsberry-Winfield 4, (5) Wentzville 3

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G3 (3) Hannibal 3, (6) Warrenton 2

G4 (2) Washington 10, (7) West 1

Wednesday, July 9

At Elsberry Khoury League Field

G5 St. Peters 17, Warrenton 6

G6 Wentzville 5, West 4

At Elsberry Legion Field

G7 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 2

G8 Washington 3, Hannibal 0

Remainder at Elsberry Legion Field

Thursday, July 10

G9 St. Peters 11, Hannibal 9

G10 Elsberry-Winfield 13, Wentzville 4

Friday, July 11

G12 Elsberry-Winfield 8, St. Peters 3

G11 Washington 6, St. Charles 0, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 12

G13 St. Charles 10, Elsberry-Winfield 1

G14 Championship — St. Charles 5, Washington 2

Sunday, July 13

G15 If-Needed Game — St. Charles 2, Washington 0

Missouri Freshman

Legion State Tournament

At Rotary Recreational

Complex - Ronsick Field

Wednesday, July 16

G1 Creve Coeur Post 397 16, St. Robert Post 331 2

G2 Ste. Genevieve Post 150 4, St. Charles Post 312 0

G3 Jackson Post 158 1, vs. Springfield Glendale Merchants 0

G4 Washington Post 218 9, Eureka Post 177 4

Thursday, July 17

G5 Springfield Glendale 11, St. Robert 1 (St. Robert eliminated)

G6 St. Charles 10, Eureka 2 (Eureka eliminated)

G7 Ste. Genevieve 4, Creve Coeur 2

G8 Washington 12, Jackson 10

Friday, July 18

G9 Jackson 12, Springfield Glendale 0 (Springfield Glendale eliminated)

G10 Creve Coeur 8, St. Charles 3 (St. Charles eliminated)

G11 Ste. Genevieve 3, Washington 2

G12 Creve Coeur 11, Jackson 7 (Jackson eliminated)

Saturday, July 19

G13 Washington 8, Creve Coeur 3 (Creve Coeur eliminated)

G14 Championship—Washington 5, Ste. Genevieve 2

Sunday, July 20

G15 Championship Game 2—Washington 3, Ste. Genevieve 0

Great Midwest Football League

July 19

Missouri Cyclones 34, Illinois Justice 0

Swim Team Schedules

Washington Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Oaks Landing    Washington 192-100

6-16    Westglen    Washington 259-206

6-23    at Fox Creek    Washington 311-225

6-30    at Chadwick    Chadwick 264-258

7-7    Cherry Hills    Washington 291-140

7-11 at Division Meet, Westminster Christian First

Pacific Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    Lake of the Woods    LOtW 176-130

6-16    at Union    Union 289-220

6-23    Bridle Creek    Pacific 371-124

6-30    at Arbor Oaks    Pacific 282-241

7-7    at Indian Hills    Cancelled, weather

7-12    Division Meet    First

Union Swim Team

Date    Opponent    Time/Result

6-9    at Arbor Oaks    Union 180-120

6-16    Pacific    Union 289-220

6-23    at Lake of the Woods    LoTW 312-201

6-30    Indian Hills    Union 322-275

7-7    Bridle Creek    PPD

7-12    at Division Meet, Pacific    Third

Pacific Diving Team

Date    Opponent    Time

6-14    at MAC West    MAC West 40-30

6-21    at Lindgate    Lindgate

6-28    at Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-13    at Championships    8 a.m.

*Indicates League Games

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