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

62nd Annual Borgia Pepsi Thanksgiving Tournament

Blue Division

Pool 1

McCluer North

Normandy

Carnahan

Pool 2

Cardinal Ritter

Pacific

Rockwood Summit

Gold Division

Pool 1

CBC

Soldan

Washington

Pool 2

Borgia

North Tech

Union

Monday, Nov. 24

CBC 77, Washington 52

Tuesday, Nov. 25

Cardinal Ritter vs. Rockwood Summit, PPD

Washington 63, Soldan 62

Borgia 83, Union 50

Wednesday, Nov. 26

Carnahan 71, Normandy 46

Pacific 64, Rockwood Summit 22

North Tech 67, Union 37

Thursday, Nov. 27

McCluer North 95 Carnahan 68

CBC 82, Soldan 55

Borgia 50, North Tech 45

Friday, Nov. 28

McCluer North 93, Normandy 39

Pacific 70, Cardinal Ritter 57

Saturday, Nov. 29

Blue Consolation — Rockwood Summit 47, Normandy 38

Gold Consolation — Soldan 78, Union 59

Gold Third Place — North Tech 63, Washington 57

Blue Third Place — Cardinal Ritter 71, Carnahan 46

Blue Championship — McCluer North 64, Pacific 58 (OT)

Gold Championship — CBC 67, Borgia 66

Boys Basketball

Monday, Dec. 8

Lutheran S 64, St. Clair 48

Borgia 61, Carnahan 51

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Lafayette 44, Washington 35

Friday, Dec. 12

Potosi 72, St. Clair 45

*Washington 69, Ft. Zumwalt North 65

Montgomery Co 62, New Haven 61

*St. Mary’s at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Bourbon 75, Union 74

Glendale 63, Pacific 46

Saturday, Dec. 13

New Haven 46, Barat 40

Nixa 56, Pacific 46

Tuesday, Dec. 16

*Pacific 70, New Haven 35

*Hermann 67, St. Clair 49

*Ft. Zumwalt South 61, Washington 50

*Union 81, St. James 74

Friday, Dec. 19

*Owensville at St. Clair    4 p.m.

Washington vs. Parkway Central, GAC/Suburban Shootout, St. Charles Family Arena, 5:30 p.m.

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

%Washington vs. TBA    4 p.m.

%Borgia vs. Poplar Bluff    5:30 p.m.

%St. Clair vs. TBA    TBA

%Sullivan Shootout

Girls Basketball

Saturday, Dec. 6

Cor Jesu 63, Borgia 60

New Haven 46, Moberly 39

Monday, Dec. 8

Pacific 73, Rolla 40

St. Clair 68, Dixon 37

Washington 54, New Haven 15

Tuesday, Dec. 9

*Borgia 59, Rosati-Kain 38

Union 53, Northwest 44

Thursday, Dec. 11

*Borgia 60, Notre Dame 53

Union 81, Bourbon 53

Friday, Dec. 12

New Haven 45, Principia 30

*Washington 59, Ft. Zumwalt North 32

Saturday, Dec. 13

West Plains 76, Pacific 37

Monday, Dec. 15

*Pacific 46, New Haven 28

*St. Clair 59, Hermann 50

*St. James 64, Union 37

Sullivan Tournament

Cuba 48, Principia 27

Borgia 68, Patriettes 29

Sullivan 56, Pattonville 43

Owensville 78, Farmington 54

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Sullivan Tournament

Farmington 61, Pattonville 39

Sullivan 68, Owensville 64

Principia 55, St. Louis Patriettes 42

Borgia 56, Cuba 38

Thursday, Dec. 18

*St. James at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at Union    7 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Francis Howell    7 p.m.

Sullivan Tournament

Seventh Place — Pattonville vs. St. Louis Patriettes, 4 p.m.

Consolation — Farmington vs. Principia, 5:30 p.m.

Third Place — Owensville vs. Cuba, 7 p.m.

Championship — Borgia vs. Sullivan, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 20

Union at Waynesville    5 p.m.

Wrestling

Monday, Dec. 8

Maplewood 48, Borgia 30

Brentwood 47, Borgia 36

Winfield 48, St. Clair 36

St. Clair 42, St. James 40

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Pacific 55, North County 10

Jackson 63, Washington 12

Farmington 63, Washington 6

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Borgia 36, Lutheran St. Charles 34

Winfield 54, Borgia 30

Thursday, Dec. 11

Union 72, Ft. Zumwalt East 9

Union 52, Principia 30

Union 54, Winfield 27

Saturday, Dec. 13

Union Tournament    9 a.m.

Borgia at McCluer S-Berkeley Tny    9 a.m.

Pacific at Farmington Tny    9 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16

Owensville 61, St. Clair 16

Union 48, Owensville 27

Union 65, St. Clair 18

Friday, Dec. 19

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Saturday, Dec. 20

Washington at Raytown S Tny    TBA

Union at Cape Central Tny    TBA

Pacific at Ft. Zumwalt E Tny    TBA

Girls Swimming

Monday, Dec. 8

Washington at Eureka    4:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 9

Washington at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

LSC/OFC 134, Borgia 101, St. Dominic 83

Monday, Dec. 15

Borgia at Notre Dame (Forest Park)    4 p.m.

Kennedy 88, Washington 84

Wednesday, Dec. 17

Lindbergh 128, Washington 48

*Conference Games

COLLEGE FOOTBALL BOWL