October 12 has been a good day for Cardinal baseball over the years. For most other major league teams, whose postseason hopes usually disappear shortly after the All Star break, October 12 has been a good day to get in a round of golf. So there's always a bright side to every situation.
Of course, reaching the postseason isn't easy. The recent success of the Cardinals may have spoiled some fans, who now consider anything less than a World Series championship a disappointing season. Maybe they've forgotten (or too young to remember) the '70's - or most of the '90's. Even '96 - the only time the Cardinals qualified for postseason play in that decade - ended as nightmarish as could be imagined. Let's forget that even happened.
Whether or not 2014 will result in another trip to the Fall Classic for the Cardinals remains to be seen. Luckily, they're playing the Giants in Game Two of the NLCS on one of their favorite days for postseason success - October 12. How can they go wrong?
Top Five Cardinals' Postseason Games Played on October 12 (Since 1964):
5 - 2011 - Game 3 - NLCS vs Milwaukee Brewers
The Cardinals score four runs in the first-inning, then hang on for a 4-3 win over the Brewers.
Chris Carpenter gets the win and the bullpen provides some stellar relief, as St Louis takes a two games to one lead over their division rivals.
4 - 2013 - Game 2 - NLCS vs Los Angeles Dodgers
Michael Wacha strikes out eight in 6.2 shutout innings. Four relievers retire the final seven batters in order to preserve a 1-0 St Louis win.
The losing pitcher - Clayton Kershaw - only allowed one run - in the fifth-inning - when David Freese doubled, advanced to third on a passed ball, then scored on Jon Jay's sacrifice fly to left field.
As a side note, Carl Crawford made possibly the worst throw in major league history on the play - one day after Carlos Beltran made one of the greatest throws ever - nailing a runner at the plate (Mark Ellis) trying to tag up from third - in another game won by the Cardinals.
3 - 1964 - Game 5 - World Series vs New York Yankees
At Yankee Stadium - after the Yankees score two unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth, Tim McCarver's three-run tenth-inning home run gives Bob Gibson a complete game 5-2 win.
Taking a shutout into the ninth-inning, the first batter Gibson faces - Mickey Mantle - reaches base when Cards shortstop Dick Groat boots his ground ball. One out later, Gibson made perhaps the greatest fielding play by a pitcher in World Series history - when he pounces on the ball that struck him off the bat of Joe Pepitone - making an off-balance throw to first to barely nab the runner.
Had Pepitone reached base, Tom Tresh's home run would have won the game. Instead it only tied the game - setting up McCarver's tenth-inning heroics.
Gibson got the final three outs in the bottom of the tenth - and became a legend in the process.
2 - 1967 - Game 7 - World Series vs Boston Red Sox
At Fenway Park, the Cardinals become World Champions for the second time in four seasons - with a 7-2 win over the Red Sox.
Bob Gibson goes the distance - allowing two runs on three hits and three walks. He also struck out ten batters.
Boston ace Jim Lonborg - working on just two days rest - is tagged for all seven runs - including a solo home run from Bob Gibson and a three-run bomb by Julian Javier.
Prior to the game, Boston manager Dick Williams was asked by a local beat writer what he expected in this Lonborg vs Gibson showdown. His response would be chanted by a relentless Gibson & company as the Cardinals celebrated in the visitors' clubhouse: "Lonborg and champagne!"
1 - 2012 - Game 5 - NLDS vs Washington Nationals
After the Nats had taken a 6-0 lead over Adam Wainwright and the Cards in the first three-innings of play, a newly retired and bitter Chipper Jones - formerly of the freshly eliminated (by the Cardinals) Atlanta Braves - felt compelled to announce to his Twitter followers what was going on in this game: "It's over!"
Not quite, Chipper. While the Cardinal bullpen kept the Nats at bay, the Redbirds pecked away at that deficit. Matt Holliday's fourth-inning RBI double scored Beltran: 6-1.
In the fifth-inning, the Cards scored two more runs on two hits, three walks and a wild pitch - as Washington starter Gio Gonzalez began to unravel: 6-3.
In the seventh, Matt Holliday's infield ground out scored Jon Jay from third, as the partisan crowd slowly went from raucous party mode to subdued paranoia: 6-4.
Daniel Descalso's eighth-inning lead-off home run drew the Cardinals within one run: 6-5.
The Nationals answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the eighth, as the mood of the crowd shifted to 95% high octane party mode again. As the ninth-inning began, nobody wanted to sit down. They had to savor the final three outs which would send their team to the NLCS: 7-5.
With closer Drew Storen on the mound, Carlos Beltran bounced a lead-off double off the wall in right center field. But then Matt Holliday grounded out to third - and the next batter - Allen Craig struck out on a pitch about a foot off the plate, for out number two.
As the crowd began singing and dancing and hugging one another, Yadier Molina and David Freese both walked to load the bases. The celebratory mood of the crowd once again shifted into stunned silence - although a few brave souls scorned the presence of Daniel Descalso now batting for St Louis. But Daniel was hot - lining a shot up the middle that was hit so hard, it nearly took shortstop Ian Desmond's glove off. Beltran and pinch runner (for Molina) Adron Chambers both scored: 7-7.
Descalso could also run - swiping second, uncontested. Two runners now in scoring position.
Next up - Pete Kozma - smacked a belt-high fastball on the outside corner down the right field line - scoring Freese and Chambers to give the Cardinals a shocking 9-7 lead. No one was more thrilled about this than the on-deck hitter - Jason Motte - who had allowed that insurance run the Nats had scored in the eighth-inning. But it wasn't enough insurance.
A reprieved Motte retired the Nats in order in the ninth to seal this improbable come-from-behind division series clincher. Bryce Harper, who fanned for the second out in the inning, was so thrilled about blowing this game, he defiantly grabbed his crotch while staring down a bemused Motte.
Undaunted, Jason then induced Ryan Zimmerman to pop out to the biggest hero of the night - second baseman Daniel Descalso - to seal the deal.
The Wild Cards had beaten the number-one team in the National League in the division series for the second consecutive year (the Phillies and now the Nats) - in a deciding fifth game on enemy turf.
It's no wonder so many opposing fans hate the Cardinals.
Let's hope the Giants fans will hate the Cardinals just a little bit more after this particular October 12 game.