photo: Adam Wainwright (Jeff Curry/Imagn)
The St. Louis Cardinals are down two games to one to the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series as the bullpen and offense struggle. Adam Wainwright’s gutsy Game 3 start was wasted. Our weekly history feature looks back at the 2012 Wild Card between the two clubs, remembered as the Pete Kozma Infield Fly Rule Game.
National League Division Series game recaps
The Cardinals pulled out the one-run victory in Game 1 of the NLDS with a late inning offensive surge. St. Louis scored its first run and tied the score in the fifth inning when Harrison Bader led off with a single, advanced to second on a bunt, stole third base, and scored on a Dexter Fowler ground out.
In the eighth and ninth innings, the Cardinals offense put up six runs. Paul Goldschmidt hit a solo home run, and Matt Carpenter added an RBI single in the eighth. In the ninth, doubles by Marcell Ozuna and Kolten Wong brought four runs home. Tommy Edman, Goldschmidt, Ozuna, and Wong each had two hits.
Starter Miles Mikolas pitched five innings and gave up one run on three hits. The right hander struck out two and walked two. Tyler Webb started the sixth and surrendered two runs, one earned. Giovanny Gallegos finished the inning without further damage. John Brebbia, Andrew Miller, and Ryan Helsley combined for the next 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Carlos Martinez gave up three runs in 1 1/3 innings to finish the game and despite the rough performance, was awarded the win.
Bader stole his first postseason base. Wong and Paul DeJong each made throwing errors.
In Game 2, the Cardinals were blanked 3-0 by the Braves to tie the series at 1-1. St. Louis’ offense managed just six hits, all singles. Marcell Ozuna and Yadier Molina were each 2-for-4.
Starter Jack Flaherty pitched seven innings and gave up three runs on eight hits, while fanning eight and walking one. Two of the three runs given up came in Flaherty’s final inning on Adam Duvall’s back-breaking pinch-hit home run. Tyler Webb tossed a scoreless eighth, but the offense was unable to come back.
The Cardinals suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final inning of Sunday’s Game 3 at Busch Stadium. Adam Wainwright pitched a gem, going 7 2/3 scoreless innings while allowing four hits, striking out eight and walking two. Andrew Miller got the last out of the eighth, escaping a bases-loaded jam created by Wainwright. The game was lost in the ninth inning by poor pitching from closer Carlos Martinez, who gave up three runs on three hits.
The Cardinals scored their lone run in the second inning. Marcell Ozuna doubled, advanced to third on a ground out by Yadier Molina, and came home on a sac fly by Matt Carpenter. St. Louis missed other chances and took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning, but the bullpen couldn’t hold on.
Harrison Bader, pinch running for Carpenter, was caught stealing third base.
The Big Picture
The Cardinals are on the brink of elimination from the Division Series after two consecutive losses to the Braves, in which the offense scored only one run combined. The offense appears flummoxed by Braves pitching, which has a collective 0.96 ERA, and the lack of offense has been the primary reason for the current predicament.
Marcell Ozuna has been the bright spot, while Paul Goldschmidt has provided some offense but not enough. Dexter Fowler has gone 1-for-12 in the series. Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina are 2-for-12, and Paul DeJong is 2-for-10. Harrison Bader, who has also struggled, was benched on Sunday, and Matt Carpenter was inserted into the lineup. Carpenter, who is 1-for-1 in the series, drove in the only run on Sunday on a sac fly, drew a walk, and struck out. The offense was just not there in the last two games and it has brought the Cardinals to the brink of elimination.
Good starts by Jack Flaherty and Adam Wainwright were wasted and closer Carlos Martinez has allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Monday’s game is a must win or go home. The offense has to show up. If the Cardinals win, they go back to Atlanta for the final game of the series.
Trade and Acquisition Rumors
There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.
There are no transactions to report.
- 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 missed the remainder of the 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 September 1 to make room on the roster for C Joe Hudson. Thomas is out for the season.
- Michael Wacha (right shoulder strain) is shutdown from throwing for several days. Wacha is uncertain for the NLDS but could return at some time in the postseason.
The Cardinals enter Game 4 of the NLDS on Monday behind 1-2 in the series. Game 4 will be played in St. Louis and if the Cardinals win, the series moves back to Atlanta for Game 5 on Wednesday. Dakota Hudson will be starting on Monday with Miles Mikolas likely available in relief. Jack Flaherty is ready to start Game 5 if needed.
If the Cardinals advance to the NLCS, the first game will be played on Friday, October 11 against the winner of the Nationals-Dodgers series. LA is currently up 2-1.
The postseason schedule can be viewed here.
Blast from the Past
Last week’s Blast from the Past looked at the last time the Cardinals played the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. This week’s article discusses the last time the Cardinals played the Braves in the postseason.
The infamous 2012 Wild Card game between the Cardinals and the Braves was the first Wild Card game played under the current format of two Wild Card teams per league. The Wild Card was introduced in 1994 and was one team per league, with that Wild Card team playing in the Division Series against a Division champion. In 2012, with two Wild Card teams per league, the two teams played each other in a single game to determine which team would go on to play in the Division Series.
This game between the Cardinals and the Braves was held in Atlanta on October 5. The starting pitchers were Kyle Lohse for the Cardinals, and Kris Medlen for the Braves. It turned out to be the final game in the career of Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
The Braves scored first on a two-run home run by catcher David Ross in the second inning. The Cardinals went ahead 3-2 in the fourth on a double by Allen Craig, a groundout by Yadier Molina, and a sac fly by David Freese.
The Cardinals added a fourth run in the sixth inning on a solo home run by Matt Holliday. Two more runs to make it 6-2 came in the seventh on a fielder’s choice by Pete Kozma, and a single by Matt Carpenter. The Braves scored in the bottom of the seventh to make it 6-3.
In the eighth inning, the Braves had two men on first and second with one out. Andrelton Simmons hit a pop fly to shallow left which inexplicably dropped between left fielder Matt Holliday, and shortstop Pete Kozma. Instead of the pop fly being a single, umpire Sam Holbrook signaled the infield fly rule, and called Simmons out. Had the pop fly been a hit, the bases would have been loaded with one out.
The Braves, both the fans and the team, were unhappy with the call. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez filed a protest. Braves fans, meanwhile, began throwing bottles, cans, and whatever else was available out onto the playing field. The game was stopped and the players ordered to leave the field. An announcement over the public address system was made that the Braves would forfeit the game if the debris throwing continued. The field was cleaned of trash and the game resumed after the 19-minute delay.
The Cardinals won the game 6-3 and the Braves’ protest was denied by MLB Vice President for Baseball Operations Joe Torre immediately after the game. Torre stated it was a judgment call and could not be overturned.
The Cardinals advanced to the NLDS against the Washington Nationals, won that series, and played the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS, where they lost. The Giants went on to win the 2012 World Series.
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