The St. Louis Cardinals are finally returning to Busch Stadium after spending a week on the road. St. Louis has had to play five straight post season games over six days in Washington and San Francisco. They won two out of three in the NL Divisional Series to defeat the Washington Nationals. Then the Cardinals traveled west and split the first two games of the NL Championship Series with the San Francisco Giants.
What St. Louis has gone through the last six days is common with post season teams who do not win their division. As a wildcard, the Cardinals have to play all of their playoff series on the road. This year they had to play a play-in game against the Atlanta Braves and that was also on the road. So, St. Louis has played six of their eight post season contests away from home.
The fact that the Cardinals won four out of those six has put them in a position to play their next three at home tied in the NLCS. Their series with the Giants stands at 1-1. If the Cardinals can play as well at home as they did in Washington and San Francisco, there is no reason to believe that they can not take two of the next three and guarantee themselves a deciding game seven.
Taking nothing away from the Giants, St. Louis looked road weary in their 7-1 loss to San Francisco Monday night. They only scored one run on five hits. The Cardinals committed two errors on defense. The big one was a ground ball that left fielder Matt Holliday let go by in the fourth, which led to three Giants runs. St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter only lasted four innings.
The Cardinals had been in every post season game they have played in this October until Monday. Their two losses to Washington were by one run each. In the play-in game against Atlanta and game five of the Nationals series, they came from behind to win. Last night there was no spark and nothing to suggest that St. Louis would generate much offense.
By returning, home the Cardinals will finally have their crowd behind them. They will also have the advantage of batting last if necessary. With their recent late inning success, St. Louis plays with a ton of confidence at home. The Cardinals know that if they can keep it close, someone will come up with the big hit.
Starting Wednesday, Holliday, Pete Kozma, Carlos Beltran and David Freese will be back on their turf. The crucial road stretch is over and they are in good shape.
After a week of intense baseball on the road, St. Louis is finally returning home.