The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers in one of more the dramatic playoff series in recent memory. Cardinals manager at that time Tony La Russa, known as the one of the greatest managers of all-time, retired after the series victory. La Russa was replaced by former Cardinals catcher Mike Matheny and it was thought to be a down year for the club.
However, the Cardinals fought back in the middle and toward the end of the season to claim the second Wild Card spot in the 2012 MLB playoffs. The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the one-game playoff and now are up 2-1 on the best team in the National League the Washington Nationals. Matheny has been the leader of this ball club and has gotten the Cardinals back to form and are very dangerous in the playoffs.
Matheny has gotten the Cardinals pitching staff looking like the Cards of old. Cardinals starters have worked six or more innings and allowed two runs or less in 85 games. This is the first time since 1969 when they also had 85 such starts. Cardinals starters have also had a team-high 94 starts of that caliber in 1968.
Comparing the Cardinals of the late-60s and the early 2010s seems like comparing apples to oranges because nobody will ever be like Bob Gibson. As a whole, the Cardinals could be like those Cardinals if the pitching holds up. The team has only allowed seven runs in the series with the Nationals this season.
Matheny is the first rookie manager to lead the Cardinals to the playoffs since Eddie Dyer did it in 1946. La Russa was the last manager to lead the team to playoffs in their first year, back in 1996.
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