The 2014 postseason ended Thursday night for the Cardinals, with a 6-3 loss to the Giants, who will now face America’s darlings -- the unstoppable Kansas City Royals -- in the World Series.
The Royals, a wild card winner in the American League, are undefeated in the postseason. They swept the Baltimore Orioles to get to the World Series for the first time since they won it in 1985, against the Cardinals.
Game Five was another up-and-down night for the Cards, who grabbed a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning and held it until the eighth, when reliever Pat Neshek gave up a solo home run to pinch-hitter Michael Morse. The Cards failed to score after loading the bases in the ninth. Michael Wacha, who hadn’t pitched in a game since Sept. 26, gave up the game-ending three-run homer to Travis Ishikawa.
Adam Wainwright did everything an ace can do, pitching seven strong innings before turning the game over to the bullpen. Wainwright, who struggled with elbow issues in the postseason, was back to his regular season 20-game winning form. He gave up a two-run homer to Joe Panik in the third inning -- the Giants first postseason home run -- but pitched six scoreless innings and struck out seven.
Cardinals hitters figured out how to hit Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, who shut them out in Game One. Bumgarner allowed one run in the third inning and solo home runs to Matt Adams and Tony Cruz in the fourth.
This is the third National League championship for the Giants since 2010. (The Giants also beat the Cardinals in 2012.) The Cards won the National League pennant in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013 and the World Series in 2006 and 2011.
All in all, the 2014 postseason was a treat for Cardinals fans after an up-and-down year. The Cardinals clinched the National League Central Division championship on the last day of the regular season.
The 2015 Home Opener, in case you're wondering, is Monday, April 13, against the Brewers.
About that World Series
The World Series starts Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
To get in the mood, we suggest a Wall Street Journal story on the history behind the Royals name. Turns out the team was named for a Kansas City livestock show called the American Royal that is held every fall. (You were, perhaps, envisioning kings and queens?)
And for Cardinals fans who are feeling a little blue, why not make it royal blue? Go Royals!
Recap: 2014 National League Championship Series
Game One: Saturday, Oct. 11, Busch Stadium. Final score: Cards 0, Giants 3
Game Two: Sunday, Oct. 12, Busch Stadium. Final score: Cards 5, Giants 4
Game Three: Tuesday, Oct. 14, AT&T Park. Final score: Cards 4, Giants 5
Game Four: Wednesday, Oct. 15, AT&T Park. Final score: Cards 4, Giants 6
Game Five: Thursday, Oct. 16, AT&T Park. Final score: Cards 3, Giants 6