photo: Jack Flaherty via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
It is as basic as baseball itself. You can’t win if you don’t score.
That is how the challenging season of 2020 for St. Louis Cardinals came to its sputtering end as they were blanked by the San Diego Padres 4-0 in the elimination game of the best-of-three Wild Card Series Friday evening at Petco Park.
Jack Flaherty made a very strong start but was rewarded with nothing from the feeble offense. After scoring 16 runs in the first two games, St. Louis’ offense apparently had nothing left to give. The game remained scoreless through 4 ½ innings as Flaherty battled with the Padres bullpen. The Friars finally broke through in the fifth on doubles by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Eric Hosmer to take a 1-0 lead. Flaherty finished his outing with a scoreless sixth and was replaced by Alex Reyes.
In the seventh, the Padres offense added insult to injury with the help of the usually outstanding Cardinals defense. When Trent Grisham grounded into a potential double play, a throwing error by 2019 Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong left runners on second and third with no outs. An intentional walk to Tatis Jr. juiced the bases. Manny Machado grounded to third, where Tommy Edman caught the ball on a high hop but failed to touch the bag before throwing home. The force was removed at home, a run scored, and every runner was safe. With the bases still loaded, Reyes walked Eric Hosmer and the Padres led 3-0.
San Diego completed its scoring when Reyes yielded a solo home run to Jake Cronenworth in the eighth. Only this final run that occurred on Reyes’ watch was earned. Flaherty took the loss.
Flailing against nine different San Diego pitchers, the Cardinals offense managed just four hits. A double by Yadier Molina was the only to go for extra bases and his walk was only one of three earned by the team. Wong, Edman, and Dylan Carlson each singled. In a continuing problem, St. Louis hitters were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
The Padres advance to the Division Series to take on the Dodgers while the Cardinals return home for the off-season.
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With this loss, the Cardinals are 7-4 in winner-take-all postseason games in the DeWitt ownership years and 4-4 in such games on the road.
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