This year's sketch of the St. Louis Cardinals is taking shape, as the 2011 version of the club keeps coming to mind. Last year, shortstop Rafael Furcal put a trademark of sorts on the phrase "Happy Flight", during a September series in Pittsburgh.
According to http://stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com:
"It's how the Cardinals commemorate victories on getaway day -- the last contests before leaving home or leaving a road city."
This season as the Cardinals come down the stretch, they will need some "Happy Flights" if they want to hold on to their wild card spot. But the good thing is, this Cardinals squad has been there and done that.
They are not interested in throwing in the towel.
You could say that the season can be summed up by not getting too high or too low. The Cardinals have not had a winning streak of longer than five games this year, but also haven't had a losing streak of more than four. They look eerily similar to last years' squad, despite missing Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa.
Now, if the Cardinals can just get a hot streak in their blood, they could very well hit the postseason running and be very dangerous.
Remember, this squad is second in the National League in run differential, outscoring their opponents by 101 runs. Until a recent funk where they scored only one run in 36 innings, the Cardinals led the major leagues in run differential.
It's almost as if a sleeping giant is waiting to be woken up, and the Cardinals of April will soon show up and beat their opponents into submission. Cardinal fans can only hope.
After 136 games last year, the Cardinals were 72-64. This team is a near carbon copy at 74-62. The Cardinals' schedule also favors them as the season closes out.
The Cardinals still have series against the Brewers, Padres and Astros (whom they play six games against), which account for 15 of the 26 remaining games. The combined winning percentage of those teams is .409. The Cardinals need to be loose and keep the "never say die" attitude, especially against these teams.
A huge series will be when the Cardinals face off against the Dodgers in Los Angeles September 13-16. The Cardinals hold a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for the second and final wild-card playoff spot.
However, big series and must-win games are nothing new to most of this team. Leaders such as Matt Holliday and David Freese have stepped up and kept their cool, seemingly knowing that this story has been told before. There does not appear to be any panic with this season's squad.
Obviously, time will tell whether the Cardinals experience of being in this position last year will pay dividends. We will soon see if St. Louis will be decorated in red come October. If I were a betting man, I'd put my money on red.