First-quarter review: Cards just know how to win

11:03 AM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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(KSDK Sports) -- Let's see. The Cardinals lost pitching ace Chris Carpenter, starting shortstop Rafael Furcal and closer Jason Motte to injury before the season began.

The initial replacement for Motte, Mitchell Boggs, struggled so badly when thrust into the closer role that he was sent to the minor leagues.

Even before those key preseason injuries occurred, the Cardinals realistically lagged behind the Cincinnati Reds on paper in the NL Central pecking order. Nevertheless, look who's leading the division.

The Cardinals have had winning records in 12 of the past 13 years, capturing the division six times, qualifying for the postseason nine times and winning the World Series twice during that span.

Basically, the Cardinals are almost always good. It's because someone usually steps up whenever there's adversity.

Shelby Miller, who earned a spot in the rotation when Carpenter was lost, is 5-3 with a 1.74 ERA. Pete Kozma, the replacement for Furcal at shortstop, has batted a respectable .264 and, more importantly, committed just one error in 185 total chances.

As for the closer role, Edward Mujica, who had four total saves in seven major- league seasons prior to this year, is 13-for-13 in save opportunities, with 18 strikeouts, one walk and a 1.42 ERA in 19 innings pitched. It's as if putting on the Cardinals uniform has turned him into Superman.

Such a development should be a surprise, but this is the Cardinals, and they just always manage to find a winning formula.


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