Tom Ackerman

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Think of all of the memorable performances from last night’s exhilarating Game 4.  The Cardinals’ 8-3 win gave them a 3-1 lead in the NLCS over the Giants:

  • Stan Musial, the Greatest Cardinal Of Them All, emerging from the right field wagon gate in a golf cart and making his way around the field before the game.
  • Adam Wainwright, exhaling, winding and firing his way through seven innings of one-run ball.
  • The barehanded Matt Carpenter, in for the injured Carlos Beltran, knocking out another hit, drawing two walks and scoring twice.
  • Matt Holliday, hours after visiting his mother following cancer surgery, driving in two runs.
  • Yadier Molina and Jon Jay coming alive with two hits and two RBI’s apiece.
  • Pete Kozma continuing to, well, happen.

And through all of that and more, the most important statement might have been made after the game.  Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said it when he was asked about his team’s resiliency — and what the Cardinals have accomplished.

“We’ve got to keep playing,” Matheny said.  “We’re looking at a team right here, with the Giants, that have shown a great deal of resiliency as well, walking into Cincinnati and (doing) something very unlikely.”

The Giants, as you are likely aware by now, sent the Reds to the offseason by winning three straight games in Cincinnati.

“So we don’t look past that at all,” Matheny continued.  “We’ve got a long way to go.”

Matheny isn’t going to let his players get comfortable with a 3-1 lead — nor should he.  The series is far from over, no matter how much it might feel like the Cardinals are closing in on their fourth pennant in nine years.

The 1985 World Series — mostly remembered around these parts for a blown call by Don Denkinger in Game 6 — saw the Cardinals lead 3-1 before dropping three straight to the Royals.

In 1996, the Cardinals led 3-1 in the NLCS against the Braves, only to watch Atlanta take the last three — some by a gargantuan total.

This season, it feels different.  With this Cardinals bunch, no matter who plays for them, nothing seems to get in their way.  They’re a feel-good story in sports.  (As soon as ESPN wraps up its wall-to-wall coverage of Alex Rodriguez, the network will catch on.)

Sure, not everyone is on board with the Cardinals.  NL Central fans — particularly those of the Reds, Brewers and Cubs — have to be irritated to see more young Cardinals finding success.  Trevor Rosenthal throwing fireballs.  Lance Lynn starting big games.  Matt Carpenter sending jolts of electricity through the ballpark.  Kozma happening.  Where do they get these guys?

I’m fairly certain that Nationals fans have moved on to things other than baseball.

But here in St. Louis, it’s a magical time that isn’t taken for granted.  The fans are soaking in the moment.

There’s one more win out there.  We’ll find out tonight if the Cardinals can take it.

Tom Ackerman is Sports Director at KMOX.  He can be heard weekday mornings at :15 and :45 past the hour on “Total Information A.M.”


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