photo: Cardinals clinch playoffs, 09/22/19 (St. Louis Cardinals)
The St. Louis Cardinals won four straight one-run games in Chicago to clinch a playoff berth and all but eliminate the Cubs, as well. The Cards’ next goal is to win the Central Division. Our weekly history feature looks back at the team’s last four-game sweep in Chicago – in 1921.
The St. Louis Cardinals began a three-game series at home against the playoff-contending Washington Nationals, and the opener ended in a victory for the Redbirds. St. Louis’ offense scored four runs on five hits against Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg. Marcell Ozuna blasted a two-run home run in the first inning and he finished it off for St. Louis with a two-run double in the seventh for a four RBI night. Ozuna was a one-man show with the only extra base hits in the game. Tommy Edman was 2-for-4.
Starter Dakota Hudson won his 16th game of 2019, pitching seven innings and giving up two runs on five hits. The right hander struck out one and walked two. John Brebbia, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Martinez combined to pitch a scoreless ninth.
On the base paths, Yadier Molina, Kolten Wong, Dexter Fowler, and Edman stole one bag each. Ozuna had an outfield assist at home.
The Cardinals offense couldn’t get it done against Nationals lefty starter Patrick Corbin on Tuesday. They managed six hits, but none resulted in scoring. The first Redbirds run came home in the third inning on a fielder’s choice by Paul DeJong. The next came in the sixth with Jose Martinez at the plate. With Harrison Bader on first base and Tommy Edman on third, Bader stole second base and Edman scored on a throwing error by the Nationals catcher. The only extra base hits were doubles by Paul Goldschmidt and Yadier Molina, who went 2-for-4.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched six innings and gave up three runs on eight hits. The right hander struck out four and walked one. Giovanny Gallegos followed with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. John Gant and Ryan Helsley gave up one run in each in the eighth. Genesis Cabrera surrendered a run in the ninth.
Bader stole his 11th base of the season.
The Cardinals were the winners in the rubber game of the series on Wednesday. The offense knocked Nationals starter and St. Louis native Max Scherzer around for five runs on eight hits. Tommy Edman kicked it off with a solo home run in the third. In the seventh, Edman plated a run on a single, and Matt Wieters hit a two-run blast. Edman went 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored and Kolten Wong was 2-for-4.
Starter Adam Wainwright pitched seven innings and gave up one unearned run on eight hits. The right hander struck out three and walked one. Giovanny Gallegos, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Martinez combined to toss the final two scoreless innings. Wainwright earned his 13th win and Martinez his 21st save.
Wong both stole a base and was caught stealing. Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler committed fielding errors. Edman had an outfield assist at home.
In the opener of a crucial four-game series at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals pulled off a one-run win in extra innings against the Cubs. The Cardinals scored first against Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks on a bases loaded double play by Dexter Fowler. Another run was added in the fifth on an RBI single by Harrison Bader. In the sixth, Yadier Molina plated a run on a single, and Bader followed with an RBI double for his second run driven in.
The Cubs battled back in the ninth against Cardinals closer Carlos Martinez, scoring three runs to tie the score and send it into extra innings. In the 10th, Matt Carpenter’s solo home run gave the Cardinals the winning edge. Paul Goldschmidt went 2-for-5, Tommy Edman went 2-for-4, and Bader went 2-for-3 with two RBI.
Starter Jack Flaherty pitched eight innings and gave up one run on three hits. The right hander struck out eight and walked one. After Martinez surrendered three runs in the ninth, Andrew Miller finished the inning and later received the win, but was charged with the blown save for allowing the inherited runners to score. Giovanny Gallegos pitched a scoreless 10th to earn his first save.
Kolten Wong was caught stealing for the fourth time.
On Friday, the Cardinals beat the Cubs in the second one-run win of the series. St. Louis was behind 1-0 until the sixth inning, when Yadier Molina came through with a two-run single. Molina went 3-for-4 in the game and Tommy Edman had the only extra base hit, a double.
Starter Michael Wacha pitched four innings and gave up one run on five hits. The right hander struck out one and walked two. Ryan Helsley tossed a scoreless fifth. Tyler Webb, John Brebbia, Andrew Miller, and Carlos Martinez combined to pitch the final four scoreless innings. Helsley earned the win, his second, and Martinez logged his 22nd save.
The Cardinals continued the one-run trend with a 9-8 win over the Cubs on Saturday. St. Louis’ offense scored nine runs on 13 hits in this see-saw battle. Dexter Fowler went 2-for-5 with two RBI. Tommy Edman went 2-for-4. Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run home run in the seventh. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong hit crushing back to back solo home runs against Cubs closer Craig Kimbrel in the ninth and were 2-for-5 and 2-for-4 respectively. Matt Carpenter was 2-for-3. Other extra base hits included a double by Carpenter and a triple by Edman.
Starter Dakota Hudson pitched three innings and gave up three runs on three hits. The right hander struck out two and walked four. Dominic Leone surrendered two runs to begin the fourth before Junior Fernandez finished the inning. Genesis Cabrera tossed a scoreless fifth. Ryan Helsley gave up one run in the sixth. Giovanny Gallegos allowed two runs in the seventh and was replaced by Tyler Webb, who pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. John Gant and Carlos Martinez combined for a scoreless ninth. Gant got the win, his 11th, and Martinez earned his 23rd save.
On the base paths, pinch-runner Randy Arozarena was caught stealing.
The Cardinals completed a historic four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Sunday with another one-run victory, via another comeback in the ninth inning, this time from a 2-1 deficit.
Paul DeJong got St. Louis on the board with a solo home run in the third inning to tie the game 1-1. The Cubs took the 2-1 lead in the sixth, while the Cardinals failed to add on until the ninth. In that inning, pinch hitter Jose Martinez got a fly ball just past the glove of Cubs center fielder Albert Almora for a triple. Dexter Fowler’s sac fly to center scored Martinez and knotted the game. Following Tommy Edman’s single, Paul Goldschmidt skipped a low pitch into the left field corner for a double that plated Edman. Edman and Goldschmidt each went 2-for-4.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched 7 2/3 innings and gave up two runs, one earned, on eight hits. The right hander struck out four and walked one. Lefties Tyler Webb and Andrew Miller combined to toss the 1 1/3 final scoreless innings. Webb earned the win, Miller the save.
Edman stole his 14th base of the season. In the field, Yadier Molina had a passed ball.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals ended the week with a record of 6-1, having won 2 of 3 from the Nationals, and executing a four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley Field. The Cardinals have clinched a postseason berth but have not yet clinched the division. The also-hot Milwaukee Brewers refuse to lose and hang on at three games back of the Cardinals with six games left. The Cardinals’ magic number is four, in any combination of St. Louis wins and Milwaukee losses.
The four-game sweep of the Cubs at Wrigley was historic, having not occurred since May of 1921. At times during the series, it seemed like the offense wasn’t going to come. The Cardinals offense has frustrated fans all season, and this weekend series continued in that mold. Two of the four games were won with three runs or less.
Hot hitters for the week were Matt Carpenter, Tommy Edman, and Yadier Molina, with OPS’s of 1.318, 1.256, and .839 respectively. Yet other players contributed with situational hitting, including Paul Goldschmidt, with the double to score the winning run on Sunday. Paul DeJong has struggled for weeks but contributed crucial home runs on Saturday and Sunday. Marcell Ozuna had a .596 OPS for the week but drove in all four runs against the Nationals on Monday. Harrison Bader drove in two of the five runs on Thursday yet put up an OPS of .739 over the last seven games. Contributions have been spread around the lineup in different games. The offense has been inconsistent as usual but has come through with just enough when it mattered.
Pitching and defense are what have put the Cardinals on top. Base running has also contributed much to the winning effort. Jack Flaherty has had a Cy Young Award-caliber second half. Adam Wainwright continues to pitch well. Miles Mikolas has been decent, while Dakota Hudson and Michael Wacha had indifferent starts this past week, but it ended up not mattering. The bullpen, sans a bad inning by Carlos Martinez on Thursday, continues to be a plus.
The team will finish the regular season with three games against the Diamondbacks and three games with the Cubs in the final weekend at Busch Stadium. With the Brewers still hot on their heels, the Cardinals need to win four of their final six without a loss by the Brewers to clinch the Division. A loss or two by Milwaukee while on the road at Cincinnati and Colorado this week will ease that burden. The Brewers’ magic number to clinch a playoff berth is three.
NL Central Standings
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- 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 is done for this 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.
- 2B Kolten Wong (left hamstring) injured his hamstring in Thursday’s game against the Cubs. A subsequent MRI revealed a Grade 2 strain. Wong’s return to the lineup is uncertain at this time.
To begin the last week of the regular season, the team travels to Arizona for a three game series with the Diamondbacks. Adam Wainwright is scheduled to make the Monday start in Phoenix, followed by Jack Flaherty on Tuesday, and Michael Wacha on Wednesday.
After a travel day on Thursday, the Cardinals return home to play the final series of the regular season against the Cubs for three games.
The Cardinals clinched a postseason berth with the win against the Cubs on Sunday. Should the Cardinals fail to win the division, they would play in the NL Wild Card game on October 1. If they win the division, they will play the first game of the NLDS on October 3, likely against the NL East-winning Atlanta Braves. In the current leading scenario, the Wild Card winner would face the NL West’s Los Angeles Dodgers.
Blast from the Past
The Cardinals executed a four-game sweep over the Cubs at Wrigley Field this past weekend to clinch a postseason berth, and eliminate the Cubs as contenders for the division title. This week’s Blast from the Past looks at the last time in franchise history a similar event occurred.
On May 27-29, 1921, the Cardinals swept the Cubs in four games at Wrigley Field (called Cubs Park at that time). The two teams played a doubleheader on the 28th. The Cardinals won the four games – 10-7, 8-7, 9-2, and 6-1.
On May 27, St. Louis starter Bill Doak pitched 4 2/3 innings and gave up six runs, three earned, on nine hits. Relievers Roy Walker pitched the last out of the fifth, and Bill Sherdel tossed the final four innings and earned the win.
The Cardinals hit no home runs, but pinch hitter Burt Shotton delivered a three-run triple. Right fielder Joe Schultz and third baseman Milt Stock each drove in two runs. Center fielder Jack Smith and left fielder Austin McHenry had one RBI each.
In Game 1 of the doubleheader on the 28th, reliever Roy Walker was the winning pitcher. Walker pitched five innings and gave up two unearned runs on three hits. First baseman Ray Grimes went 3-for-4, including a home run. Left fielder John Sullivan also contributed a long ball. Second baseman and future Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby went 3-for-5 with three RBI.
In the nightcap, Jesse “Pop” Haines pitched a complete game and gave up two runs on seven hits. McHenry hit a long ball and had three RBI. Third baseman Jack Fournier tripled; Schultz doubled twice and catcher Verne Clemons once. Stock went 3-for-5 with two RBI.
In the final game of the series, pitcher Marv Goodwin pitched a complete game, giving up one run on seven hits. Smith and SS Doc Lavan homered. Smith also doubled, as did Schultz. McHenry went 3-for-4 with two RBI.
The 1921 Cardinals went 87-66 that year and finished third in the National League. Against the Cubs they were 14-8. Five years later, in 1926, the Cardinals would win their first World Series title with Hornsby as player-manager.
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