Then we get to the point where he undergoes a radical surgery, and it's hard to believe not too long ago that they took a rib from this guy, and as soon as they did, he was still talking about how he was going to help this club.
And it sounded good in theory, but it just didn't seem very realistic until he got on the mend, and I applaud our medical staff, but I applaud Chris Carpenter for what he's been able to do. And to go out and not just go out there, but to compete like Chris Carpenter always has, and then the stuff to go along with it. Just beyond words the amount of respect that everybody in that clubhouse has for him.
Q. Largest crowd ever in this stadium, and you sucked the life out of it real early. How surprised were you by that, and how important was that?
MIKE MATHENY: I thought it was a great atmosphere. That's part of the beauty of playing in the postseason. Explained to the young players, even when we show up in spring training, there's a buzz. There's a buzz all over this city. There's a buzz inside the stadium. We just go out and play our game and try not to let that get in the way, whether there's a lot of life or no life at all. The guys just have to put their head down and play their game.
Q. What have you seen from Descalso these last couple of games? It seems like he's barrelling up almost every ball he gets the bat on.
MIKE MATHENY: Danny is a better offensive player than what his 2012 stats tell. He's got a real good idea at the plate, and let alone, he's as solid a middle infielder as they come. He's just a good ballplayer in everything. He's getting into a nice rhythm right now, but he's worked really hard. And it's been frustrating at times for him through this season, but he's in a good spot now.
Q. How much has Pete Kozma's development over this last month and a half meant to you guys?
MIKE MATHENY: Pete Kozma has been huge. We had a huge void when we lost Rafael Furcal, and whenever you have somebody up the middle, especially somebody kind of quarterbacking the infield like Rafi did, we were stuck in a spot, and we didn't have that glaring replacement, that this is the guy we have to go with.
We put him in there, gave him the opportunity, and he absolutely ran away with it. Just catching the ball out there was something we were looking forward to him doing, let alone having big hits; and then on top of that, being able to supply some power and some run production.
But he's going about it the right way. I just want him to, just like we said, just keep going, nothing different. Just keep the same approach. There's going to be more distractions; the better he does, the more times he comes through like he has, it will continue to be an opportunity for him to show resolve and mental toughness to just go about his business the way he has been.
Q. This team has had so many losses that probably would have taken down other teams; Wainwright last year, Carpenter, and then Furcal later on in the season. Why do you think this team has been able to withstand those sorts of things?
MIKE MATHENY: And I think that's a great compliment to our guys, and I think that's a result of their character. I've said this before: You mix a team that has character and talent, it's a tough force to stop.
Character is developed through the adversity, and the adversity seemed to start off in spring training when we do lose a Carpenter, and then a Lance Berkman goes down, and all of the change that happened since the 2011 season. There were plenty of excuses for these guys to take. They have intentionally decided not to go the route of the excuse, just come out and play the game.
They have done a very good job of just staying very consistent, and that's a sign of good leadership inside of that clubhouse.