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World Series 2001
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10/09/2001 04:22 PM ET
Cardinals postseason history
Patrick Mulrenin
MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- What do Mark McGwire, Mike Timlin, Bobby Bonilla and Edgar Renteria have in common other than the fact that they play for the Cardinals?

They all have what their 21 other teammates want: a World Series ring.

A World Series champion has not been crowned in St. Louis since Darrell Porter and the 1982 Redbirds stormed back against the Milwaukee Brewers to win the series in seven games. McGwire, Timlin, Bonilla and Renteria have been through the rigors of a baseball season with other teams and basked in the light at the end of the tunnel. Their experience will help the 11 guys on the Cardinals who have never raised a trophy, much less played in the postseason.

McGwire earned his ring as a member of the Athletics in 1989. Oakland swept San Francisco in the Bay Area series that was interrupted by an earthquake.

Timlin raised the trophy twice as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993. He earned the save in the sixth and final game against Atlanta in 1992 as he got Otis Nixon to ground out for the final out.

Bonilla and Renteria both tasted victory as members of the 1997 Florida Marlins. The importance of that team is that the Marlins are the only Wild Card team to ever win a title. St. Louis is the National League's Wild Card entry this season.

Of the 21 other Cardinals in search of a ring, 10 were a part of last season's St. Louis team that lost in five games to the New York Mets in the League Championship Series. Albert Pujols, the future NL Rookie of the Year, and Mike Matheny are the only players of the starting eight without postseason experience. A few days before the playoffs were scheduled to begin last season, Matheny severed two flexor tendons and a nerve in his right ring finger by accidentally cutting himself with a hunting knife that he had received as a birthday gift.

The pitching staff is the least experienced part of the club. Darryl Kile is the only pitcher in the rotation to have started in a playoff game. In the Division Series, he is 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA in two starts, one with Houston in 1996 and one last season.

Matt Morris, who will start Game 1 against Arizona, was used out of the bullpen last season. He did not allow a run in two Division Series appearances against Atlanta.

Woody Williams is making his first trip to the playoffs in his nine-year career. He will start in the second game of the series against the Diamondbacks' Randy Johnson.

"I'm excited," Williams said following Sunday's loss to Houston. "As far as I'm concerned, we're still playing. It would be nice to have home-field advantage, but we got beat. The Astros were better today and they deserve to be here. We just have to bounce back and win on Tuesday."

If the series goes more than three games, Manager Tony La Russa may use one of two guys who have never been in the postseason. Dustin Hermanson, who was acquired along with reliever Steve Kline in a trade with Montreal in the offseason, would be the more logical choice for a Game 4 starter than rookie Bud Smith, who has pitched in 16 Major League games.

Mike Matthews, Gene Stechschulte and Kline are three key components of the Cardinals bullpen who have never faced the pressure of pitching in the postseason.

La Russa is an experienced postseason manager who won his ring as the skipper of the 1989 A's. He has led St. Louis to the postseason in three of his six seasons at the helm. Since the inception of the Division Series in 1995, La Russa-led teams are 6-0. The Cards swept the Padres in 1996 and the Braves in 2000.

Patrick Mulrenin is the site manager for Stlcardinals.com. He can be reached at patrickmulrenin@website.mlb.com.