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.”

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Area Scoreboard

Boys Basketball

Monday, Jan. 26

^Rock Bridge 79, Northwest 27

^Lutheran South 76, Hillsboro 43

Owensville 41, Hermann 40

St. James 80, Montgomery County 39

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Jackson 65, Pacific 44

^Borgia 82,  Union 61

~Warrenton 69, Chamois 24

^Washington 49, St. Clair 45 (OT)

~Wright City 51, New Haven 37

*Bethel at Crosspoint    7:45 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

^Northwest vs. Hillsboro   5:30 p.m.

~Chamois vs. New Haven    6 p.m.

~Warrenton vs. Wright City    6 p.m.

^Union vs. St. Clair    7 p.m.

~Hermann vs. Montgomery Co    7:30 p.m.

~Owensville vs. St. James    7:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Rock Bridge vs. Lutheran South    5:30 p.m.

^Borgia vs. Washington    7 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    7:30 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

^Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

~Seventh-place game    2:30 p.m.

^Consolation    4 p.m.

~Consolation    4 p.m.

^Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

~Third-place game    5:30 p.m.

^Championship    7 p.m.

~Championship    7 p.m.

^Union Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

Monday, Feb. 2

New Haven at Silex   5:30  p.m.

Fulton SA at North County Christian    7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Whitfield at Union    4 p.m.

*Crosspoint at Fulton SA    6:30 p.m.

Pacific at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

*Holt at Washington    7 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Fulton SA at Community Christian    6:30 p.m.

*Duchesne at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

*Rivers of Life at Crosspoint    7 p.m.

Wellsville at New Haven     6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

*Union at New Haven    6 p.m.

*Pacific at St. James    6 p.m.

*Borgia at St. Mary’s    6:45 p.m.

*St. Clair at Sullivan    7 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Feb. 10

*St. Clair at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Hermann at Union    5:30 p.m.

Rock Bridge at Borgia    7:15 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Owensville at New Haven   6 p.m.

Girls Basketball

Monday, Jan. 26

^Holt 60, Pacific 57

^Warrenton 42, Union 40

~Owensville 64,  Montgomery Co 32

Borgia 62, Cardinal Ritter 41

^St. Clair 64, Lutheran South 45

~Hermann 57, Wright City 26

Washington 74, Wentzville Liberty 19

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Fulton SA at Barat    4:30 p.m.

~New Haven 42, Montgomery Co 34

*Bethel at Crosspoint    6:15 p.m.

~Chamois 61, Wright City 20

Wednesday, Jan. 28

^Pacific 62, Union 59 (OT)

Fulton SA at Thomas Jefferson    5 p.m.

^Lutheran South 54, Wentzville Liberty 40

~Owensville 54, New Haven 24

^Warrenton 51, Holt 44

~Chamois 50, Hermann 45

^Washington 54, St. Clair 31

Thursday, Jan. 29

*Borgia at Notre Dame    6:45 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 30

^Seventh-place game — Union vs. Wentzville Liberty   4 p.m.

~Consolation — Montgomery Co. vs. Wright City    5 p.m.

^Consolation — Pacific vs. Lutheran South    5:30 p.m.

*Providence at Crosspoint    6 p.m.

Eagle Ridge at Fulton SA    6 p.m.

~Third-place game — Hermann vs. New Haven   6:30 p.m.

^Third-place game — St. Clair vs. Holt   7 p.m.

~Championship — Owensville vs. Chamois   8 p.m.

^Championship — Washington vs. Warrenton    8:30 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 2

#Borgia vs. Patriettes    4 p.m.

#Cardinal Ritter vs. Union    5:20 p.m.

De Soto at St. Clair    5:30 p.m.

Fulton SA at North County Christian    6 p.m.

#Washington vs. Parkway South    6:40 p.m.

Chamois at New Haven    7 p.m.

#Helias vs. Troy    8 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

*Crosspoint at Fulton SA    5 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

#Washington-Parkway South loser vs. Helias-Troy loser    4 p.m.

#Borgia-Patriettes loser vs. Cardinal Ritter-Union loser    5:20 p.m.

#Washington-Parkway South winner vs. Helias-Troy winner    6:40 p.m.

#Borgia-Patriettes winner vs. Cardinal Ritter-Union winner    8 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Pacific at St. James    6 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

Barat at Fulton SA    4:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

*Rivers of Life at Crosspoint    5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7

#Seventh-place game    noon

#Consolation    1:30 p.m.

#Third-place game    3 p.m.

#Championship    4:30 p.m.

New Haven at Elsberry    5 p.m.

Monday, Feb. 9

*Hermann at Union    5:30 p.m.

*St. Clair at Pacific    5:30 p.m.

*Owensville at New Haven    6 p.m.

*St. Dominic at Borgia    6:45 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

Tuesday, Feb. 10

*Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    5:30 p.m.

Crosspoint, Fulton SA at MAC Tny    TBA

^Washington Tournament

~Hermann Tournament

#Borgia Tournament

Wrestling

Tuesday, Jan. 27

*Pacific 42, St. Clair 33

Borgia 36, Hallsville 30

Helias 66, Borgia 21

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Borgia at Lutheran St. Charles    5 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 29

Union at Farmington/Summit    5 p.m.

*Pacific at St. James/Owensville    5:30 p.m.

Washington at Seckman    6 p.m.

St. Clair at De Soto    TBA

Friday, Jan. 30

St. Clair at Potosi/Festus    5 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 31

Pacific at Hazelwood East Tny    9 a.m.

Monday, Feb. 2

Borgia at O’Fallon Christian    5 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Washington at Pacific    6 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

Borgia at AAA Tny    TBA

Thursday, Feb. 5

*Pacific at Union    6 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 7

Washington at Seckman Tny    9 a.m.

St. Clair at Francis Howell Central Inv    9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Pacific at Parkway Central Tri-Meet    5 p.m.

Girls Swimming

Tuesday, Jan. 20

Timberland 140, Washington 96, Ft. Zumwalt East 87

Thursday, Jan. 22

Oakville 120, Washington 115, University City 9, Mehlville 6

Saturday, Jan. 24

Washington 91, Borgia 80

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Washington 122, St. Charles West 46

Thursday, Jan. 29

Washington at Affton/Lutheran South    4:15 p.m.

Borgia at St. Dominic    8:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 3

Washington at McCluer North    3:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Feb. 4

Borgia at MICDS/Duchesne (Rec-Plex)    8:30 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 6

Washington at Ft. Zumwalt South    3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Feb. 10

Borgia at Nerinx Hall    4 p.m.

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

Thursday, Feb. 12

Borgia at AAA Meet    TBA

Washington at GAC Meet    TBA

*Conference Games

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