10/11/2002 01:23 am ET
Cards keeping the faith despite hole
By Paul C. Smith / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals have rebounded from several most unfortunate situations this season. Those were real-life situations and the Cardinals banded together and endured throughout.
But being down, 2-0, to the Giants in the NLCS and coming back to win may be as trying as anything they've faced on the field this season.
Since 1969, no team in Major League Baseball has ever come back from losing the first two games at home and won a League Championship Series.
"We've had adversity the whole time but we've continued to battle," said J.D. Drew. "These guys haven't shut it down at all. We'll keep battling. We'll keep doing what we do. You have to win four games to advance."
Woody Williams came back from three weeks out with a muscle pull on his left side to pitch six innings Thursday night. He said he was surprised the Cardinals are down, 2-0, but that anything can happen.
"Our backs have been against the wall all year," Williams said. "By no means is it over."
Manager Tony La Russa said his team knows how to respond to adversity, on and off the field.
"In one sense, it's a perfect setup for us," La Russa said. "I mean, it's been a really hard year. This is a head start [for the Giants]. But I know how ready we'll be when we got to San Francisco."
The Yankees came back from losing the first two games in New York against Oakland last season, but that was the five-game American League Division Series. The Yankees also are the most recent team in postseason history to come back and win a seven-game series after losing the first two at home. In the World Series, the 1996 Yankees dropped the first two games at Yankee Stadium and then won the next four straight against the Braves.
Cardinals first baseman Tino Martinez was a member of both those Yankees teams.
"It's a long series," Martinez said. "You come out Saturday and you find a way to win. If we can win out there and get the momentum back, you never know what will happen. Game 3 is huge."
There is potential good news for the Cardinals, though. In all of Major League playoff history, a total of eight teams have come back from 0-2 deficits to win, including the 1985 Cardinals in the NLCS. They lost the first two games in Los Angeles and came back to win the next four games.
In the 1984 NLCS, the Cubs won the first two games in Chicago but the Padres won the next three. Also, in the ALCS, the 1982 Brewers lost the first two against California and came back, as did the 1985 Royals against Toronto.
In the ALDS, the 1995 Mariners and 1999 Red Sox lost the first two on the road and then won the next three to advance.
But none of the current Cardinals players were interested in other teams' history.
"This is a totally different year and a totally different team," Drew said.
Fernando Vina said the Cardinals simply need to focus on what they can do.
"We've been there all year long, but we keep coming back," Vina said. "We're down 0-2 but I feel pretty good about our chances."
Jim Edmonds said the Cardinals need to maintain their composure and try not to press too much.
"We just have to play the way we know we can," Edmonds said. "If we come home to play, it means we have a chance to win."
This also is uncharted territory for the Giants. San Francisco has never had a 2-0 lead in three previous NLCS appearances and never won the first two on the road in the postseason.
Jason Schmidt gave up only one run and four hits in 7 2/3 innings against St. Louis in Game 2.
"He was incredible," said Williams.
But Williams added that he would like a chance to match up against Schmidt again.
"I would love the opportunity [to pitch again]," Williams said. "But, for now, I'll go become a cheerleader."
Paul C. Smith is a reporter for MLB.com and can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.