Cardinals up for challenge that awaits at Fenway

Cardinals up for challenge that awaits at Fenway
October 29, 2013, 10:15 pm
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Trailing in the World Series three games to two and facing elimination Wednesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals already had plenty on their plate.
     
Then, attempting to fly to Boston Tuesday afternoon, they ran into mechanical difficulties with their chartered plane and were forced to sit for hours on the runway in St. Louis before being cleared for takeoff.
     
It was one more bizarre turn in an already strange Series, one that's already included games that ended with a rarely-called obstruction call and another with a pickoff.
     
Unusual turns aside, the Cards have to work against history starting Wednesday, and pull off a feat few teams have: win two games in a row, on the road, facing elimination both times.
     
Add to that an electric environment at Fenway Wednesday, with fans eager to see the Red Sox win a World Series at home for the first time in nearly a century, and it's a distinctly uphill battle for the Cards.
     
But the Cardinals welcome that challenge.
     
"The ramped up atmosphere is really one of the perks and benefits of playing in the post-season," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny in a conference call with reporters. "Guys have played their whole career or dream
about being in this atmosphere where fans are excited, into it, the place is packed and alive and buzzing. So that sort of thing isn't really something that's a detriment to our success."
     
The Cardinals lost a brilliant pitcher's duel Monday night in St. Louis, as Adam Wainwright matched Jon Lester until allowing two runs in the seventh in a 3-1 Red Sox victory.
     
Whatever happens, it was the final home game of the season for Cards, and it left a sour taste with the team. Only Saturday night, the Cardinals had won Game 3 at Busch Stadium and were poised to close out the Sox with
two more wins at home.
     
Instead, the Cardinals managed just three runs over the next 18 innings.
     
Still, Matheny maintained the Cards were looking ahead, not backward.
     
"They have a very short memory," said Matheny. "It's been something that I think has served us well. Guys are looking like they're getting ready for (just) another trip, getting ready for another game."
     
Nor is Matheny worried that his scheduled starter, Michael Wacha, is going to be overwhelmed. Wacha may be a rookie, but he's been dominant in the post-season and showed poise all October.
     
"Michael is very consistent with how he approaches the game," said Matheny. "It seems like with every situation, that everybody tries to build up, the better he pitches. Right now, we're just anticipating him to stay the course and do what he's been doing and hope his stuff will be good enough. And I believe that it will with what he's been doing."
     
"Whenever the opportunity presents itself," said Wacha, who limited the Sox to two runs on three hits in six innings in Game 2, "I try to take advantage of it. That's the way I've been my whole life, really. This is
another opportunity to try to take advantage of and get a win for this ballclub."
    
It will help if the Cardinals can do a better job of containing David Ortiz, who has 11 hits and six RBI in the first five games. On Monday, he had a run-scoring double and two more singles, singing the Cardinals' staff at every turn.
     
Surely, the Cardinals have to try something else with Ortiz.
     
"If you know of something, I'm all ears," said Matheny. "You have to realize he's not just a hot hitter, he's a good hitter. We also understand that when our guys are making pitches and we're doing what we're trying to do, we can get anybody out. But right now, we can't deny the fact that this guy is extremely hot."
     
Nor can the Cards deny that time is running out on their season. Wednesday, they either win or their season is over. And should they survive that, it's the same for a Game 7 Thursday.
     
"It's all just a lot of talk right now unless we do it," said Matheny, "and we've only got a limited time to make it happen."