Cardinals Catch Home Field Advantage
ST. LOUIS - Having home field advantage throughout the National League Championship Series would most likely benefit the Cardinals based on their recent performances. With a shutout victory over the Cubs on Sunday, the Redbirds got just that.
Although their overall home record of 54-27 was second in the NL this season behind Atlanta, the Cardinals set a Busch Stadium III single-season wins record. By winning 20 of its last 23 home contests since Aug. 11, St. Louis finished the regular season soaring in the Gateway to the West.
They hope that success will take them all the way to the World Series as they open postseason play Thursday night against either the Reds or Pirates. The Cardinals would not have to win a single game on the road if it meant capturing every home matchup. Nonetheless, St. Louis would definitely prefer to win the series as soon as possible in order to give their players a breather between opponents.
On Sunday, manager Mike Matheny began resting players by sitting David Freese and Matt Holliday. Matheny then removed catcher Yadier Molina prior to the game's first pitch. During the fifth inning, Matheny took Carlos Beltran out of the lineup.
Matheny also paid tribute to Jake Westbrook with what could be his final start in a big league's uniform by having him pitch through the first frame. On his 36th birthday, Westbrook pitched out of a two-out double to throw a scoreless inning before walking off to a dugout filled with hugs and backslaps from his teammates. It is not yet known whether he will be in the lineup for the Cards' playoff run.