Give him credit; he owned it. But owning it and delivering are two different things. It was time for Betts to deliver Mickey Mantle Jersey , for himself and his teammates.It was time for him to heed the advice he got from Red Sox legend David Ortiz a couple of campaigns ago. "Think less," Big Papi admonished, per Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald.Get out of your head. Get into your game.Betts did exactly that in Game 2. He helped even the series. He injected life into the Boston dugout and reminded America why he's among the brightest stars in the MLB galaxy.Check out the respectful praise Astros manager A.J. Hinch heaped on Betts in remarksto reporters prior to Game 2:"He's one of the most dynamic hitters in baseball. So you can imagine my thought was panic and fear whenever he comes up to bat with no escape. He can cover every pitch, he's a threat to do a lot of different things. I'm not really going to go over what our pitch approach is going to be to him, but the less of those at-bats [with runners on base] that we can get the better because he's a ticking time bomb to do some kind of damage."On Sunday, the damage was done.The smile appeared.It wasn't all about Mookie, but it was a lot about him.And that's a big deal for Boston. All statistics current as of Sunday and courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference. The St. Louis Cardinals were barreling toward their third consecutive missed postseason when they made the decision to part ways with manager Mike Matheny and turn the reins over to Mike Shildt.They still wound up missing the playoffs.But oh, what a run they made.A club that was hovering around .500 when Matheny was dumped in July set a record for consecutive series wins, and climbed into the playoff race well into September. St. Louis was finally eliminated on the season’s penultimate day, but the organization was left feeling much better about the future.“We’ve been in postseason mode since virtually the All-Star break,” Shildt said, “so you appreciate what went well, and you appreciate and grow through experiences and you grow together. There’s a lot of takeaways http://www.yankeesfanproshop.com/aut...i-berra-jersey , and the good news is we’ll take advantage of it. I can promise you that.”Shildt, who never played the game beyond college, was so impressive in righting the course as a first-time manager that the Cardinals stripped him of the interim tag before the end of the season. That answered the biggest question heading into the offseason.Now, the Cardinals can begin planning around their young core for next season. Erstwhile cornerstone Adam Wainwright, first baseman Matt Adams and pitchers Tyson Ross and Bud Norris are not expected back, which means the Cardinals will head to spring training largely intact.“What I take away is really simple, really how you respond,” outfielder Harrison Bader said. “Kind of got kicked in the teeth a little bit, but to have 162 games and then ultimately it come down to the last four or five, playing meaningful baseball that late in the season is what it’s all about.“Unfortunately this year we didn’t come out on the right side of where we really wanted to be,” he said, “but it very easily could have gone another way. To set us up in that position with such a young team and young in terms of age and experience, it’s no excuse but it’s very promising.”REBOUND CANDIDATESDexter Fowler hit just .180 with a handful of stolen bases Roger Maris Jersey , and considering he is due $16.5 million each of the next three seasons, the Cardinals need their offensive sparkplug to be more spark and less plug. Pitchers Alex Reyes and Brett Cecil also struggled, the former with injuries and the latter with effectiveness.STILL CATCHINGYadier Molina proved he’s still one of the best backstops in the game, even though he missed some time with an injury. The 36-year-old catcher hit .261 but slugged .436, and he belted 20 homers with 74 RBIs while helping to bring along a young pitching staff.ABOUT THAT STAFFInjuries decimated the staff early in the season, but that merely thrust some young guys into the mix. Now they’re poised to form a formidable rotation next season, and competition to crack it will be brutal in spring training. Miles Mikolas and Michael Wacha are sure things, but Reyes, Jack Flaherty, Dakota Hudson, Carlos Martinez, Austin Gomber and others are eyeing a job.ERRORS GALOREThe Cardinals had the most errors in the majors with 133, or more than double the club with the fewest (Houston with 63). All those mistakes put more pressure on that injury-riddled pitching staff and an offense that finally started humming late in the year.“We’ve got some room for improvement in some of these areas Phil Rizzuto Jersey ,” Shildt acknowledged. “I think in general there is optimism about how this team is going about competition and the style of play and excited about what it looks like moving forward. I think there’s a real good energy behind our fan base right now. It should be, at least.”BIG SPLASHDespite so many returning pieces, the one thing the Cardinals could use is a middle-of-the-order slugger. Manny Machado or Bryce Harper would fit the bill, but quite frankly, the bill is also quite large. Regardless, the Cardinals could use a consistent force in the middle of the lineup.“Three straight years of coming up short. We as an organization, as a total group top to bottom everybody in this clubhouse, all the staff, we have to find a way to get better,” first baseman Matt Carpenter said. “We’re headed in the right direction. The second half was definitely a good starting point, but we’ve got to find a way to get there.”