Slick at short: Shortstop David Eckstein had far more chances and assists at shortstop than he had had ever in his career. His 517 assists this summer outdistanced his previous career high (397 in 2002) by more than 100.
Handling the bat: Over the past four regular seasons (2002-05), Eckstein has led the major leagues with nine RBI bunts.
Sanders sizzling: After coming into 2005 with a career .188 postseason batting average, Reggie Sanders has eight RBI in eight at-bats this series. He totaled just five RBI in five previous division series appearances covering 68 at-bats.
Reggie's record: Four players had seven RBI over the first two games of a series: Brooklyn's Gil Hodges (1956 World Series), Texas' Juan Gonzalez (1996 ALDS), Boston's Mo Vaughn (1998 ALDS) and Boston's Nomar Garciaparra (1998 ALDS).
Sanders among greats: Sanders is the third Cardinals player to hit a grand slam in the postseason. Gary Gaetti did it in the 1996 NLCS against the Braves' Greg Maddux and Ken Boyer did it in the 1964 World Series.
Effective middle relief: St. Louis was leading at the end of the fifth inning 87 times this season, and they were trailing at the end of the seventh inning in just four of those games.
Winning consistently: The last time the Cardinals lost four in a row was to the Red Sox in the last year's World Series. Here are the other teams since division play began in 1969 that have gone an entire season, like this summer's Cardinals, without a four-game losing streak.
1972 New York Mets
1980 New York Yankees
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers
1989 San Francisco
1994 Kansas City
Editor's note: However, only one of these eleven teams translated lack of a regular season slump into a World Series win. That was the Baltimore Orioles of 1970, some 35 years ago.
Ex-Cards everywhere: There is a flock of Cardinals flying amidst all the post-season teams this year, including:
* Woody Williams, Padres (Cards: 2001-'04): Williams was the Cards' Game 1 starter for each of their postseason series last year. He will face his old team in Game 3.
* Mark Sweeney, Padres (Cards: 1995-97): In 135 games, he's batting .294 with eight homers and 40 RBIs.
* Russ Springer, Astros (Cards: 2003): He has been a constant in the Astros bullpen, going 4-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 62 appearances this season.
* Orlando Palmeiro, Astros (Cards: 2003): In 114 games for the 'Stros, he's batting .284.
* Edgar Renteria, Red Sox (Cards: 1999-'04): His offensive numbers (.276 average, 70 RBIs, nine SBs) weren't all that different from his final season with St. Louis (.272, 72 RBIs, 17 SBs). It was the 30 errors the former Gold Glover committed this season that stood out.
* Mike Timlin, Red Sox (Cards: 2000-02): In parts of three seasons, Timlin appeared in 25 games (after trade to St. Louis in midseason), 67 and 72 games for the Cards before spending the last three seasons with Boston.
* Tino Martinez, Yanks (Cards: 2002-03): Signed to replaced Mark McGwire at first base for the Cards.
* Tony Womack, Yanks (Cards: 2004): He only spent one season in St. Louis but was the catalyst at the top of the lineup for the Cards as he scored 91 runs and hit .307 with 26 stolen bases.
* Dustin Hermanson, White Sox (Cards: 2001, '03): Hermanson was the White Sox closer for a good portion of the season (34 saves in 39 opportunities).
* Chris Widger, White Sox (Cards: 2003): The former backup to Mike Matheny now serves the same role for A.J. Pierzynski in Chicago.
* Jason Christiansen, Angels (Cards: 2000-'01): He was the second player acquired by the Cards at the trade deadline in 2000, as Will Clark was the marquee name brought in by Cards GM Walt Jocketty that season for the playoff push.
* Esteban Yan, Angels (Cards: 2003): He may be the player on this list to have had the shortest stint with the Cardinals (May 27 to Aug. 23) but he did appear in 39 games for St. Louis. (Editor's note: We'd like to forget this.)
* Adam Kennedy, Angels (Cards: 1999) Way back before the start of the 2000 season, the Cards gave up this prospect and Kent Bottenfield for Gold Glove center fielder Jim Edmonds. The trade has worked out for both teams.
* Brian Jordan, Braves (Cards: 1992-98) His best season as a Cardinal was his last when he hit .316 with 25 home runs and and 91 RBI.
Who is that guy?: Cardinals broadcaster Mike Shannon is so unimpressed with umpire Angel Hernandez that he refuses to say his name on the air. "I'll say who the other three umpires are, but not Hernandez," Shannon said.
Looking back at Busch: The Cardinals finished 1,760-1,409 in regular-season games at Busch, which opened May 12, 1966. This has been their best decade with a 307-180 record.
Curse of the ex-Cubs: Of the remaining teams in this postseason, only the White Sox are Cub-free. Here are the others:
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (1): Josh Paul
Houston Astros (1): Jose Vizcaino
Atlanta Braves (2): Kyle Farnsworth and Todd Hollandsworth
San Diego Padres (3): Manny Alexander, Damian Jackson and Eric Young
St. Louis Cardinals (3): Ray King, Julian Tavarez and Mark Grudzielanek
New York Yankees (5): Tony Womack, Matt Lawton, Tanyon Sturtze, Mark Bellhorn and Tom Gordon.
Pads hit and miss: The Padres are the first team in postseason history to outhit their opponents by at least three hits in each of the first two games of a series but lose both games.
Playoff repeaters: Six of the eight teams in last year's playoffs have returned to the postseason this year (Angels, Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Braves, and Astros). The only other year in which that many teams made a second consecutive postseason appearance was 1999 (Yankees, Rangers, Red Sox, Indians, Braves, and Astros).
Battle tested: 21 of the 25 players on the Cardinals' NLDS roster have prior playoff experience. The four newbies are Brad Thompson, John Gall, John Rodriguez and Abraham Nunez. Nunez is the only veteran as the other three are rookies.
NLDS winners: The Cardinals have taken the series in four of their last five Division Series appearances:
1996: Won 3-0 over San Diego Padres
2000: Won 3-0 over Atlanta Braves
2001: Lost 3-2 to Arizona Diamondbacks
2002: Won 3-0 over Arizona Diamondbacks
2004: Won 3-1 over Los Angeles Dodgers
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