ST. LOUIS -- Buried below a bunch of clothing and other personal items in Trevor Rosenthal's locker is a teetering stack of large red boxes, each of them filled with baseballs. With every save he notches, another ball gets stashed away.
Rosenthal brought his count of keepsakes to 47 on Monday night, closing out the Cardinals' 2-1 win over the Reds with his 47th save, matching a franchise record set by Lee Smith in 1991 and achieved 13 years later by Jason Isringhausen. Rosenthal did it with 13 games remaining in the regular season, positioning him to soon set the new standard.
"It's really special," said Rosenthal, who saved 45 games a year ago. "Obviously, to do anything like that in an organization that I came up with and to make a mark, it's important to me, and also to have my name along those guys. I'm fortunate to know a lot of the other guys on that list."
Rosenthal has gotten to know Isringhausen especially well, taking advantage of the former closer's visits to Spring Training and periodic appearances at Busch Stadium. The two have talked often about handling the ups and downs of a sometimes-thankless job and about the competitive mentality required of a successful closer.
Now it's Isringhausen who can expect to hear from Rosenthal.
"I'll text him," Rosenthal said, "and let him know that I'm excited to be a part of the club."
While Isringhausen can expect to hear from Rosenthal, manager Mike Matheny anticipates that he'll be looped into some back-and-forth, as well.
"I'm sure I'm going to have a nasty text from Izzy here in a little bit," Matheny said, facetiously, of course. "He told me to slow that kid down. I think he told me that in July a couple times."
Rosenthal has converted 21 consecutive save opportunities, with his last blown save coming when he was pitching on fumes just before the All-Star break. He ran up a 23 2/3-inning scoreless streak earlier in the season and is tied for fifth among National League relievers with 80 strikeouts.
His first-batter efficiency, which complicated so many innings for him last year, is also much improved. After allowing 39 percent of the first batters he faced to reach in 2014, Rosenthal has reduced that percentage to 25.
"I'm very proud of how Trevor has just figured out a way," Matheny said. "He's been very good this year. That's quite an accomplishment in this organization, with some of the names you're talking about."