photo: Jack Flaherty (David Kohl/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals are down two games to none to the Washington Nationals in the Championship Series as the offense struggles mightily. The Cards need the hitters and ace Jack Flaherty to step up again in Game 3. Our weekly history feature looks back at the 2012 NLDS between the same two clubs – the Pete Kozma Series.
NLDS Game 4 – Monday, October 7 – Cardinals 5, Braves 4 (10 innings)
The Cardinals eked out an extra innings one run victory to force Game 5 in Atlanta. St. Louis scored two runs in the first inning as Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna hit back to back solo home runs. After the Braves put one on the board in the third, the Cardinals added a run in the fourth on a second Ozuna solo home run.
The Braves took the lead with three runs in the fifth, but the resilient Redbirds knotted it up again with a fourth run on a single by Yadier Molina in the eighth. The game went into extra innings, and in the 10th, Molina was again the hero. After Kolten Wong hit a ground rule double and advanced to third on a ground out, Molina’s sac fly to left field brought Wong home for the walk off victory.
Goldschmidt went 3-for-4 with an RBI, two doubles and two runs scored. Ozuna was 2-for-5 and Tommy Edman was 2-for-3.
Starter Dakota Hudson pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up four runs, one earned, on five hits. The right hander struck out two and walked two. Seven pitchers combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. They were Tyler Webb (2/3 inning), Giovanny Gallegos (1/3 inning), John Brebbia (2/3 inning), Andrew Mlller (2/3 inning), Ryan Helsley (one inning), Carlos Martinez (one inning) and Miles Mikolas (one inning). Mikolas got the win.
In the field, Matt Carpenter made a fielding error and Molina had a passed ball.
Faced with a win or go home scenario in Atlanta for Game 5, the Cardinals chose the former in the biggest way possible. The Redbirds came out swinging in the first inning and didn’t stop for air until 10 runs crossed the plate.
The scoring went like this. Dexter Fowler walked, Kolten Wong bunted him to second. Paul Goldschmidt singled, Marcell Ozuna singled to plate Fowler. Yadier Molina reached on an error, Matt Carpenter walked, Tommy Edman doubled to score Ozuna and Molina. Paul DeJong was intentionally walked, Jack Flaherty walked, and Carpenter scored. There were still no outs. Fowler doubled to plate Edman and DeJong. Wong doubled to score Flaherty and Fowler. Then Goldschimidt lined out, Ozuna struck out, and Molina grounded out and the inning was over.
The Cardinals added one run in the second on a DeJong double. In the third, Harrison Bader pinch hit for Carpenter and singled in a run, and DeJong did the same to make the score 13-0. The Cardinals did not score again, but they didn’t need to, as the Braves were held to only one run in response to the onslaught.
Jack Flaherty pitched six innings and gave up one run on four hits while fanning eight and walking one. Giovanny Gallegos, John Brebbia, and Genesis Cabrera each tossed a scoreless inning of relief.
NLCS Game 1 – Friday, October 11 – Cardinals 0, Nationals 2
The Cardinals entered the NLCS at home against the Nationals having won Game 5 of the NLDS in Atlanta in a slugfest. Perhaps the Redbirds were exhausted, as the team was certainly sluggish in Game 1 of the NLDS on Friday. They were blanked by the Nationals 2-0 and nearly no-hit by Anibal Sanchez. A pinch hit single by Jose Martinez in the eighth ended the no-hitter and was the only Cardinal hit in the game.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings and gave up one run on seven hits. The right hander struck out seven and walked two. Giovanny Gallegos started the seventh and surrendered one run. Andrew Miller and John Brebbia finished the seventh without further damage. Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless eighth. Tyler Webb and Carlos Martinez combined to pitch a scoreless ninth.
Kolten Wong and Randy Arozarena each stole a base.
NLCS Game 2 – Saturday, October 12 – Cardinals 1, Nationals 3
The Cardinals managed to scratch one run across the plate, but the offense remained sluggish and the game was lost 3-1 to the Nationals, who now take a 2-0 lead in the series back home to Washington.
Again, the Cardinals were nearly no-hit, this time by Max Scherzer. The Cardinals had previous success against Scherzer this season, winning both games he pitched against them in the regular season. Postseason Scherzer, however, befuddled them. Paul Goldschmidt finally got to the Nationals’ hurler with a single in the seventh inning. Pinch hitter Jose Martinez drove in the Cardinals’ only run on a double in the eighth after Paul DeJong singled for one of the three Cardinal hits in the game.
Starter Adam Wainwright pitched very well, but received no run support for his efforts. Wainwright hurled 7 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on three hits. Two of the three runs scored in the eighth. Andrew Miller got the final two outs of the eighth and Ryan Helsley pitched a scoreless ninth.
Kolten Wong stole his second postseason base.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals won the NLDS with a whirlwind final two games to dispatch Atlanta. The Cardinal Nation named Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna co-Most Valuable Players.
All that scoring meant nothing in the NLCS as the offense seemed to have nothing left. St. Louis scored only one run in two games and most of the offense came from a pinch hitter. There were two hits in Game 2 from regulars, singles by Paul Goldschmidt and Paul DeJong. Jose Martinez had a pinch hit single in Game 1 and a pinch hit double in Game 2.
Solid pitching kept the scores in both games from getting out of hand. Miles Mikolas and Adam Wainwright pitched very well but received no help from the offense for their efforts.
The offense struck out a combined 18 times over the two games and had four hits total. The defense, while on paper showing one error and one passed ball, was not the best the Cardinals had to offer. The Cardinals put out their best offensive lineup while diminishing the defense, and the effort has so far failed in the NLCS. Whether that strategy will continue and bear some fruit remains to be seen.
The Cardinals hope to play three games in Washington starting on Monday afternoon. They must win two of the three to force the series back to St. Louis. Jack Flaherty will pitch on Monday against Stephen Strasburg and Dakota Hudson will face Patrick Corbin on Tuesday. No pitchers have been announced for a possible Wednesday Game 5.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report. The Cardinals kept the same roster for the NLCS as they had in the NLDS. Michael Wacha was deemed not quite ready to go.
- LHP Brett Cecil (carpal tunnel syndrome left wrist) continues on the 60 day injured list. Cecil had begun a throwing program but had a setback and will return next season.
- RHP Jordan Hicks (torn right UCL) underwent Tommy John surgery on June 26 and is out for the rest of the season.
- LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder labrum surgery) was acquired in a trade from the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 31. Cingrani is out for the season and will become a free agent at the end of the season. Cingrani will likely never throw a pitch for the Cardinals.
- OF Lane Thomas (right wrist) was placed on the 10 day injured list retroactive to August 28 for a right wrist fracture suffered when he was hit by a pitch. Thomas was transferred to the 60 day injured list on Sept 1 to make room on the roster for C Joe Hudson. Thomas is out for the season.
- Michael Wacha (right shoulder strain) was shut down from throwing for a week following an early exit from a game on September 25. Wacha was unavailable to participate in the NLDS and was not included on the NLCS roster. His status for the World Series, should the Cardinals advance, is uncertain.
The Cardinals are set to play Game 3 of the NLCS in Washington on Monday. The Cardinals lost the first two games at home and will play at least two games in Washington. The Cardinals must win 2 of the 3 games in Washington to force a return to St. Louis for Games 6 and 7, which would be played on Friday and Saturday, October 18 and 19.
The postseason schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals will play Game 3 of the NLCS against the Nationals in Washington on Monday. The Nationals lead the series 2-0 after defeating the Cardinals in the first two games in St. Louis. This week’s blast from the past remembers the only other time these two teams met in a postseason series.
The Cardinals met the Washington Nationals for the National League Division series beginning on October 7, 2012 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. The Cardinals were a Wild Card team, while the Nationals were the NL East Division Champs. The first game was played in St. Louis due to a new format introduced because 2012 was the first year of two Wild Card teams. The NLDS format was 2-3, instead of the prior 2-2-1 format. The format would return to 2-2-1 the next season. The second Wild Card was implemented in March 2012 after the regular season schedule had already been set. The Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in the first Wild Card Game prior to entering the NLDS against the Nationals.
The Nationals won Game 1 3-2 in St. Louis. Adam Wainwright started for the Cardinals and Gio Gonzalez took the mound for the Nationals. The Nationals took the initial 1-0 lead but the Cardinals went ahead 2-1 with two runs in the bottom of the second inning on a wild pitch and a sac fly by Jon Jay. Cardinals reliever Marc Rzepczynski gave up a two run single in the eighth inning to give the Nationals the 3-2 lead, but both runs were charged to reliever Mitchell Boggs.
The Cardinals roared back from the Game 1 loss with a 12-4 Game 2 win. Jaime Garcia started for St. Louis against Jordan Zimmerman for the Nationals. Allen Craig and Daniel Descalso each hit a solo home run. Carlos Beltran had two home runs, a two run and a solo shot.
Game 3 moved to Washington and the Cardinals blanked the Nationals, 8-0. Chris Carpenter got the start while former Cardinal Edwin Jackson started for the Nationals. Carpenter pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for the win. Pete Kozma hit a three-run home run off Jackson in the second inning. Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Daniel Descalso, and Yadier Molina all drove in runs.
The Nationals tied the series with a 2-1 win in Game 4. Kyle Lohse started for the Cardinals while Ross Detweiler got the start for the Nationals. Carlos Beltran drove in the only St. Louis run in the third inning on a sac fly. The Nationals hit two solo home runs, one off Lohse and the other off Lance Lynn.
The deciding Game 5 was played on Friday, October 12. Adam Wainwright got the start facing Gio Gonzalez for the second time. The start did not go well for Wainwright, as he gave up six runs in the first three innings and exited with one out in the third inning. The Cardinals offense was not discouraged, however, as they began chipping away at the 6-0 deficit. Matt Holliday doubled in the fourth to drive in the first run. Two more came home in the fifth on a wild pitch and a walk to make it 6-3. Jon Jay scored on a Holliday ground out in the seventh and Daniel Descalso hit a solo home run in the top of the eighth to make it 6-5.
The Nationals scored in the bottom of the eighth to increase the lead to 7-5. Then, in the top of the ninth, magic happened. Carlos Beltran doubled and both Yadier Molina and David Freese walked, and Descalso singled to score Beltran and pinch runner Adron Chambers to tie the game at 7-7. After Descalso stole second base, Kozma singled to right to plate Freese and Descalso and give the Cardinals the 9-7 lead. Jason Motte pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth to send the Cardinals to the NLCS. This game forever cemented Kozma as enemy number one to Nationals fans.
With the Nationals in the driver’s seat in the current NLCS, one must hope magic can again happen for the Cardinals.
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