The St. Louis clubhouse was a quiet, somber place Sunday evening as the defending World Series champions reflected on how they squandered a lead in the final two innings and a strong performance from starter Adam Wainwright.
For all the scowls and the lingering frustration that hung in the air, though, the Cardinals didn’t view the 3-2 loss to Washington in Game 1 of the NLDS as something that caused the sky to fall. Were they disappointed? Sure, but St. Louis is used to less-than-desirable playoff situations.
These are the Cardinals who qualified for the postseason on the penultimate day of the regular season, won a spot in the NLDS by defeating Atlanta Braves, whom they finished the regular season six games behind. Most of these Cardinals won the World Series in 2011, a journey that saw them triumph in four elimination games.
In both the 2011 NLDS against Philadelphia and NLCS against Milwaukee, the Cardinals lost Game 1. Falling behind at the start of a series is far from new for them, in fact it’s almost part of their routine.
“If you look at our postseason last year, we did that against Philly we did that against Milwaukee,” Wainwright said. “Actually we were down 4-0 Game 2 in Philly and end up beating Cliff Lee. This team is not hanging our heads. We can come back and win this easily….We’ll show up tomorrow ready to play.”
As reporters questioned how pressing a win in Game 2 would be for the home team, the Cardinals responded with a calm message. This single game loss is no reason to panic, they stressed. This is something they know precisely how to overcome – it’s just a matter of doing it.
“It’d be nice to win,” closer Jason Motte said. “It’s not a must win. It’s not sudden death, Game 7 or Game 5, yet.
“It’s one of those things that we’re going out there and doing everything we can to win every single game regardless of the situation whether it was a must win or if we were up two games to none on them,” Motte continued. “We’re going to go out there and give everything we’ve got. The 25 guys on this roster are going to work their butts off and do everything they can to help us get a win.”