photo: Harrison Bader via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Sunday, September 27, 2020 – St. Louis 5 vs. Milwaukee 2
By any measure, the St Louis Cardinals’ season was unique, even for a year as unusual as 2020. While most other Major League squads ‘merely’ dealt with the compacted 60-game schedule, the Cardinals persevered through a 17-day gap in play sparked by positive tests for the coronavirus. That interruption resulted in 11 double headers, 53 games in 44 days and a seemingly endless revolving door between the active and Injury Lists.
But on the last day of the regular season, St Louis’ journey took them to clinch the number five seed in the National League’s postseason with a 5-2 victory over division rival Milwaukee (29-31). The Cardinals (30-28) claimed the five-game set, three games to two, and will face fourth-seeded San Diego beginning Wednesday.
The margin of victory was generated in the third when the home team scored four times. Speedster Harrison Bader led off with his second triple of 2020 which was followed by Tyler O’Neill’s walk and stolen base. An injury delay ensued whereupon Milwaukee starter Brett Anderson (L, 4-4) had to leave the game with a finger issue.
Kolten Wong pounced on Anderson’s replacement, Freddy Peralta, with an infield single, scoring both Bader and O’Neill. Wong ended up on second due to a throwing error by Peralta, putting him in position to come home on Paul Goldschmidt’s line drive single up the middle. A base-on-balls to Yadier Molina advanced Goldschmidt to second, and the latter crossed home plate on Paul DeJong’s single to left.
Starter Austin Gomber, who had tossed a crisp initial three frames, showed the results of sitting during the extended bottom half of the third the next inning. The lefty issued free passes to his first two batters then wild pitched both runners into scoring position. Gomber regrouped by sandwiching an RBI groundout between two strikeouts, this minimizing the damage. At 75 pitches, within one of his season-high, Gomber’s day was done with a stat line of one run allowed on one hit and two walks with three K’s.
Bader got that run right back in the home half of the fourth, leading off with a 425-ft blast that hit Fredbird’s painting set up on the steps halfway up into Big Mac Land. The center fielder went 2-for-3 with a triple and solo shot, touched home twice and drove in two.
The only other Cardinal with a multi-hit performance was Goldschmidt, who singled three times in four at bats (finishing at .304 for the season), scored one and knocked in another. Kolten Wong’s third-inning single, his only hit in four at bats, extended his hitting streak to seven games.
Each team traded zeros on the scoreboard over the next four innings, thanks to the efforts of Giovanny Gallegos, Genesis Cabrera and Alex Reyes, called “The Three Amigos” by manager Mike Shildt after the game. Gallegos (W, 2-2) retired six batters, yielding a hit to begin the seventh and fanned three. Cabrera replaced Gallegos with a runner on first and tossed a clean seventh, but not before uncorking a wild pitch and walking a batter.
Cabrera left in the eighth after a single and free pass put two on with one out for Reyes. The flamethrower caught Ryan Braun looking at strike three and Jedd Gyorko swinging through the third strike.
But Reyes was not able to navigate the ninth before causing some serious angst in Cardinal Nation. A two-out double, walk and RBI single brought the potential tying run to the plate. However, an athletic play by second baseman Wong generated the third and final out and the Cardinals celebrated reaching the post-season and avoiding a Monday twinbill in Detroit. The team will play its first Wild Card Game in San Diego on Wednesday at a time to be determined.
Other Sunday news
Exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation
Join the talk with other Cardinals fans in the daily game threads at The Cardinal Nation’s free message board.
Join The Cardinal Nation for the most comprehensive coverage of the St. Louis Cardinals from the majors through the entire minor league system.
© 2020 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.