The St. Louis Cardinals are the 2014 National League Central division champions after the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-1, on Sept. 28.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the 2014 National League Central champions.
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The Cardinals got the nod after the Cincinnati Reds beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-1, on Sept. 28, per MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch:
"The champagne sat chilled in the Chase field visiting clubhouse, simply awaiting the outcome of a game that had lost all significance by the time the first pitch was thrown. Win or lose in their regular-season finale, the title of National League Central champs could not be plucked away from the Cardinals.
"As it was, the Cardinals went on to beat the D-backs, 1-0, behind a handful of plug-in players that were a part of manager Mike Matheny's last-minute switcheroo once a Pirates loss eliminated any meaning from the outcome of Game 162. In a season where they did not hold sole possession of the division lead until September, the Cardinals finished two games ahead of Pittsburgh.
"It marked the ninth time since 2000 that the Cardinals have finished first in the NL Central and the second straight year in which they had to fend off the Pirates for that division title all the way up to the final weekend of the regular season. The margin of error this season can be pared down to something as simple as the Cardinals winning 11 of their 19 head-to-head games against the Pirates.
"With Johnny Cueto helping pitch (and hit) the Reds to a victory over the Pirates, St. Louis was able to pull Adam Wainright while he warmed up in order to give him extra rest before he starts against the Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Friday. Nick Greenwood took Wainwright's pregame place in the bullpen and, on his 27th birthday, made his first career start.
"He was the first five pitchers the Cardinals would use to navigate through the game. Greenwood covered three scoreless innings, allowing one hit. Justin Masterson, in his first appearance since Sept. 9, retired six of the seven batters he faced. Kevin Siegrist, Marco Gonzales and Carlos Martinez held the shutout, which, as the 23rd of the season, marked the franchise's most since 1968.
"It was also the first time since '68 -- a season since titled as the Year of the Pitcher -- that more than 25 percent of the Cardinals' wins were shutout ones.
"Fitting, it was too, that the Cardinals ended this offensively-challenged season with minimum run support and a one-run win. Both have come to define this team, which has been anchored by its pitching from start to finish. It was the Cardinals' 32nd (third-most in the Majors) one-run win in a season where they played 55 one-run games, the most in any year since 1998.
"Yet it was the team's ability to win so many tight games that explains how it achieved a 90-win season with a run differential of only plus-16. The Cardinals' 619 runs scored this season are the fewest among the 10 teams that qualified for the postseason."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Bernie Miklasz weighs in on how the 2014 MLB season has gone for the Cardinals in his Sept. 28 blog:
"When you expect them to win, they lose. When you expect them to lose, they win. When given an opportunity to take firm control and reassert their command of the NL Central division, they disappear. When it looks like the season is about to dissolve and fade, they reappear, filled with resolve, and everything seems right again -- well, at least until they stumble over the next tripwire, have a new breakdown, and get hit by another hideous loss to a horrible team.
"These are your 2014 St. Louis Cardinals.
"An enigma right down to the final minutes of the season.
"A team that lives dangerously. A team that apparently needs to make it more interesting and dramatic by peering over the cliff -- to stare at their own demise -- before pulling themselves together.
"...I don't know what to expect from this team. All I really know, for sure, is this: The Cardinals starting pitching is usually very good, and the offense can't be counted on to do much except leave some of their fans barking and frothing at the mouth.
"So now it comes down to one day. I'll praise the Cardinals for this: whenever they've gotten themselves into a real jam and needed a positive response, they've come up with it."
The Cardinals finished the 2014 MLB regular season with a 90-72 (.556) win-loss record.
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