The St. Louis Cardinals are set for game five of the NLCS sending out the ace of their staff Chris Carpenter. After a close loss in game four this Cardinals team will be regrouped and focused in game 5. Each loss of this series could have been a victory and with a win tonight the Redbirds know that they can go back to St. Louis and win the series at home.
The Cardinals could have lots of excuses going into game five and could also feel the pressure of facing an elimination game. However, the cards appear to be focused on the task at hand. If you want proof that the Cardinals are focused look no further than the post game comments of Albert Pujols. "I don't think we're pressing. We're having great at-bats. We're running the bases. We're playing aggressive. We're a very strong team. We bounce (back) every time. If we win that game (tonight), we're back in St. Louis, and who knows what happens? We don't look at losses. We look at what we can do to win the next game."
One potential pitfall for the Cardinals could be dwelling the loss and the inconsistent strike zone of home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. Tony LaRussa will not allow that to happen and said he has already turned the page. "I'm ready to discuss anything about the game," La Russa said. "Anything involving umpires, you know, there's nothing you should say after, next day, next week, next year."
A true championship team is capable of performing at it's best when everything is on the line and this Cardinals team still has the look of a champion. If the winning 100 game this season while battling through injury and adversity is not enough to make you a believer here are some stats that will.
- Chris Carpenter is 12-1 on the road this season and 5-0 vs Houston
- Andy Pettitte has not won a game vs STL this season in 4 starts
- The Cardinals hit .265 against Houston pitching this season, fifty points higher than their current .215 mark. Look for that average to improve at the cards see Pettitte, Oswalt, Clemens the second time around.
With a win tonight the series would shift back to Busch Stadium where the Cards could clinch their second straight NL pennant.