For the Cardinals to lose the National League Division Series would be almost unprecedented. Of course, if their late season collapse had culminated in blowing the Central Division title, that would have been unprecedented, too.
But the fact of the matter is that the Cardinals, after a 2-0 triumph over the San Diego Padres in Game 2 of the Division Series on Thursday, have a 2-0 edge in games, too. No National League team ever has won the first two games on the road in a five-game series and not won the series. And only the 2001 Oakland Athletics have managed the feat in the American League.
The Cardinals have done it with pitching and defense, especially keeping the Padres hitters off balance with a succession of breaking balls. "I don't recall a staff throwing that many curveballs for strikes," San Diego left fielder Dave Roberts said.
Against a San Diego lineup stacked with eight left-handed batters, Cardinals right-hander Jeff Weaver, against whom left-handers had batted .357 this year, held the Padres to two hits and no runs for five innings.
Weaver pitched around two first-inning walks before finding himself. "To get that third out in the first inning and keep it a zero was definitely huge," said Weaver.
REPLAY: First baseman Albert Pujols helped win Game 1 of the National League Division Series with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. Pujols won Thursday's second game by singling home a run in the fourth inning and then, after dodging a rundown, scoring the second run on an infield hit by center fielder Jim Edmonds.
Cardinals relievers have tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, with Adam Wainwright finishing both games.
--1B Albert Pujols had a double and two singles and is 5-for-8 in the first two games of the series.
--Cardinals pitchers have held the Padres to 10 hits in the first two games and none in 10 at-bats with men in scoring position.
--Manager Tony La Russa is 8-0 against San Diego manager Bruce Bochy in three first-round series.
--LHP Tyler Johnson has struck out four hitters in two innings and new closer Adam Wainwright, also a rookie, has fanned four in 2 2/3 innings. Each has given up only one hit.
--RHP Josh Kinney, a third rookie, worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his playoff debut Thursday.
BY THE NUMBERS: .357 -- Left-handed hitters' batting average against Cardinals RHP Jeff Weaver this season.
.071 -- San Diego Padres left-handed hitters' average (1-for-14) against Weaver in Game 2 of the Division Series.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I just wanted to stay away from the extra-base hits and things of that nature and was able to throw a lot of quality breaking balls to keep these guys off-balance." -- RHP Jeff Weaver after his Game 2 start.