It’s becoming familiar, but won’t ever get old.
Take your pick of what it could be for the St. Louis Cardinals. Winning a getaway game for another “happy flight.” The bullpen taking on a heavy load of innings during an NLCS game and proving more than up to the task. Timely hitting. Capitalizing on the opponents’ mistakes.
All of those elements combined for a Cardinals 7-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers in game five of the NLCS last night, giving the Cards a 3-2 series advantage. Game six is tomorrow at Miller Park.
Last night’s win was the 16th straight time the Cardinals have won a game when they have to travel afterward, which of course created the team’s now-popular “happy flight, happy flight” chant. The last time they didn’t have a happy flight was on Aug. 3.
Coincidence? Focus? Does it matter? It’s a terrific streak to have … and a few more happy flights in 2011 would be very nice.
Jaime Garcia continued the unfortunate trend for Cardinals starters in the NLCS, lasting only 4 2/3 innings. He allowed the Brewers only run in the fifth and left with two on, two out and Ryan Braun headed to the plate.
Octavio Dotel quickly ended the inning by striking out Braun, then retired the Brewers in order the next inning.
Lance Lynn (our not-so-little Wolf Pup) allowed two hits and a walk, but got Nyjer Morgan to ground into a double play in the seventh and his fellow relievers stopped the Brewers in the eighth. Marc Rzepczynski only faced one batter, Prince Fielder, and struck him out for the fourth time. Not Closer Jason Motte retired the four batters he faced.
Final bullpen tally: 4 1/3 innings, no runs, two hits, one strikeout, one walk.
The Cardinals had 10 hits, with Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina having three each. Albert had an RBI single, plus Jaime Garcia had a good night at the plate. He drove in David Freese and Yadi in the second on a Hairston error, then had an official RBI in the fourth when Freese scored on a ground-out to Yuniesky Betancourt.
Doubles were the hits of the night for the Cardinals, as they had seven. And, lo and behold, Lance Berkman even had a stolen base — the Brewers were so intimidated by his speed (ha!) that they didn’t even attempt a throw to second.
Capitalizing on mistakes
There was sort of a deja vu feel to parts of the game for all Cardinals fans who watched the 2006 World Series. Back then, it was the Tigers pitchers making error after error that the Cards were able to take advantage of.
Last night the errors by the Brewers were more spread out across the infield — third baseman Hairston (as already mentioned), shortstop Betancourt, second baseman Weeks and reliever Marco Estrada. But the 2011 Cards did what the 2006 Cards did, made those errors hurt. Three of the runs Zack Greinke allowed were unearned.
All in all, a satisfying win and a very enjoyable game five.
Game six is next, tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. Central. Edwin Jackson will once again face Shaun Marcum. And we all know what a win tomorrow will mean …
Christine Coleman is the senior St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.