ST. LOUIS — Heading into Game 5 of their NL Division Series against Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals can take comfort in this: They’re 7-1 the past three years when facing postseason elimination.
Manager Mike Matheny said poise comes from a mindset of sticking to routine that is established during spring training.
“We saw it in Pittsburgh, and I anticipate seeing it tomorrow,” Matheny said Tuesday after most players attended an optional workout. “They show up like it’s another – it’s another great day.”
Starter Adam Wainwright was loose and playful on the podium, joking that he got knocked out early on purpose in last year’s division series finale at Washington to “get the mojo flowing.” He tore a page from the Tony La Russa quote book, declining to discuss possible wrinkles for Game 5, turning to Matheny and asking, “Is that a scouting report? That’s a scouting report.”
Though this is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff appearance since 1992, they’ve looked seasoned, too.
“This is obviously an exciting time, a high-pressure situation, and you know, this is what you prepare for all year,” rookie starter Gerrit Cole said. “Yeah, it’s extremely exciting, and I can’t wait.”
The Pirates will be facing an opponent they all know too well. It’ll be the 24th meeting of the season, with strong stretches on both sides and the Pirates holding a 12-11 edge.
YANKEES: Hank Steinbrenner wants Joe Girardi to remain with the New York Yankees and is awaiting the manager’s decision on a new contract.
Girardi’s current deal expires at the end of the month, and the team offered a new agreement last week.
“It’s up to him now,” Steinbrenner, the team’s co-chairman, said Tuesday.
The Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the second time in 19 years and finished with an 85-77 record, their poorest since 1992. All-Stars Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson missed much of the season.
“Well, the No. 1 thing is, and it’s not an excuse, the injuries were catastrophic,” Steinbrenner said. “And that’s the word for it, catastrophic. I’ve never seen anything like it. We’ve been in baseball for 40 years, and I haven’t seen anything like it. It was crazy.”
ANGELS: Manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Jerry Dipoto are returning to the team next year after the club’s worst season in a decade.
The Angels announced Tuesday night that hitting coach Jim Eppard and bench coach Rob Picciolo will not return in 2014.
CUBS: Ryan Sweeney is staying with the team after agreeing to a $3.5 million, two-year contract that includes a club option for 2016, he said on Twitter.
PHILLIES: Linked together in one of the worst trades in franchise history, Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg now will be working in the same dugout trying to restore the Philadelphia Phillies’ winning ways.
Bowa, a former Phillies manager and shortstop, returned to the team Tuesday to serve as bench coach under Sandberg. The two infielders were traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1981 for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. Sandberg, a throw-in at the time, went on to become a Hall of Fame second baseman.
“We go back a long ways,” Sandberg said. “He’ll be a terrific guy by my side. I have a high level of comfort with him. With his baseball background, as a baseball man, he’s top notch.”
Besides Bowa, Pete Mackanin also is coming back to the Phillies to be the third-base coach. Mackanin was the bench coach for Charlie Manuel from 2009-12. Manuel was fired and replaced by Sandberg in August during the middle of Philadelphia’s first losing season since Bowa was the manager in 2002.
“I like Pete’s experience as a third-base coach,” Sandberg said. “He’s a lot like Larry, a well-rounded baseball man. They know the team, they know the players, they have a feel for Phillies baseball and expectations.”