The division championship playoff series was a best of five games against the Tulsa Drillers. We knew it was going to be a great matchup because we had played so many tight games against them throughout the whole season. It took all five games to win that series and was quite the battle.
When we first arrived in Tulsa, we found out that Troy Tulowitzki was going to be with the Drillers (Double-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies) for a rehab stint before heading back to the major leagues. I immediately thought, "That's not real fair". However, big leaguers have to rehab and I knew he wouldn't be at full strength. Therefore, I wasn't too worried.
Then I started thinking about how nice it would be if Chris Carpenter came to pitch for us on a rehab stint. Ha ha ha. I was dreaming for sure.
Anyway, we started with two games in Tulsa and played the next three in Springfield. We won the first game, in which I saw my teammate Chris Swauger go deep three times. That was truly exciting. I remember being down three runs in the seventh or the eighth inning in the same game and Greg Garcia tied it up with a three-run homer.
You can only imagine how exciting this first game of playoffs was! Our team was jumping around and acting like little leaguers every time we scored. I think in that same game, I had two hits to help contribute to the win.
The next game we just didn't have any offense. I believe we got shut out or only scored once. As a result, we headed back to Springfield split 1-1. All of us were excited to return home because we knew we would have great fan support and it was going to be exciting to play in front of all the people that supported us all season.
The next three games were all exciting and luckily, we were able to win the series. It took all five games but we got it done, even after losing outfielder Chris Swauger to an injury suffered on a diving catch.
The champagne showers in the locker room began shortly after that fifth game and it was exhilarating to know that we were about to play for a Championship. Wait, sorry did I say champagne? I meant non-alcoholic sparking cider. We have a few players under 21 so the organization had to take that under consideration.
The highlight of the "bottle poppin" for me was dousing a photographer with a whole bottle of the bubbly. The celebration seemed a little surreal, especially after I thought back to the middle of July when our manager, Mike Shildt, told us he had a dream and envisioned us winning the Texas League Championship and celebrating on the Frisco RoughRiders field. I now realized that his dream had a very strong possibility of becoming reality because of the way the best of five series is set up (first two games at home and the next three in Frisco).
I thought to myself here I am day in and day out trying to figure out what a pitcher might throw me at the plate, while I have a manager that can predict the future. I'm having him pick my lotto numbers this week by the way.
We had one day off and then the Championship Series began. We found out before the first game that Mike Napoli would be catching for them. He was going to be rehabbing an injury that he had suffered earlier in his season. First Tulowitzki and now Napoli. Our post-season was definitely not supposed to be a breeze.
It's ok though because we won the first game with great pitching by Carlos Martinez. The second game was probably one of the best games I had ever been a part of in my entire life. Our hitting had been cold all night and the bats just seemed to magically come alive in the bottom of the eighth inning. I think we were down four runs and sparked a two-out rally that produced six runs.
I just remember the stadium being the loudest I had ever heard it. I remember thinking in the on deck circle in that eighth inning, "I want to hear this place erupt when we come back". I thought it erupted when I hit a two-run single to bring us within one run. However the noise was taken up to a whole other level when we tied and then went ahead.
It was just one hit after the next and the hitting was just contagious that inning. I've never seen so many genuine smiles in one dugout. I'm getting chills writing about this right now because I feel like I'm reliving the inning. Needless to say, we finished that game with the win.
Being up two games to none in the series, we knew the Championship was ours. Heading to Frisco there was no question that we were taking the Texas League Championship back to Springfield.
We might have been too relaxed because the first game on their field we couldn't get anything going offensively and we didn't hit the way we should have. We lost that game and everyone was pretty disappointed that we had to come back and play another game to finish it up. We knew we should've swept them. Luckily we took care of business the next day.
Scott Gorgen gave us an unbelievable performance on the mound in game four. He shut the Roughriders down and made it look easy. We scored a couple of runs and that's all it took. The bullpen took care of business after Gorgen handled his business and now we are all Champions.
What a season! I told you guys there was something special about this team from the beginning. There was just that Championship swagger from day one.
Personally, I am happy for what we did as a team, but I expected more out of myself this season. I didn't start out as well as I should've and I didn't finish the way I should've.
There is always room to improve and you better believe next year I'm going to come back stronger than ever. I'm at that point to where I am starting to see a lot of friends and guys that I have played with/against make it to the big leagues. All I can dream about is my turn. Next year is my time.
Thanks for all the support and feedback. I appreciate every reader and fan that I have out there. I love giving you guys a taste of what is going on in my world. If you guys have any ideas/subjects that you would like you see me blog about or just feedback please hit me on the twitter.
Until next time! This is your "X-factor" signing off...
Follow me on twitter @Xavier_Scruggs.
Link to my earlier reports from the regular season, spring training and winter ball in Colombia.
© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.