Choo-Choo! All-aboard the Cardinals September perennial devil magic train. It is real and October is Coming, for now. Greetings all! Since the last time we talked, the Birds have not lost a game. That’s right! The St Louis Cardinals have ( at the time of writing) won eight straight contests. Their longest winning streak since they won eight straight in August of 2018. They now lead the NL Wild Card by three games. What has been the change? What happened that helped right the ship for the Cardinals as they hunt for October you may ask? Well, a few things. They lead all of MLB with 74 defensive runs saved. Ten more than the team in 2nd, Tampa Bay. Tyler O’Neill has finally put it all together and has had a very complete 2021 campaign, including his last seven games batting .385 with 3 HR and 10 RBIs. Lastly, since September 8th the Cardinals bullpen is third in all of MLB with a 1.0 WAR and holds a 2.50 ERA. Basically, everything is finally clicking at the same time. So let’s look a little deeper at this past week.
September 13th: Final STL 7 @ NYM 0 (WC STL -0.5)
Another Adam Wainwright start, another win. Since July 21st the Cardinals are 11-1 when Adam Wainwright starts. He is totally leading this charge. The Cardinals travel to New York for a three-game series that holds heavy NL Wild Card implications. Waino did what Waino does, going 6 innings and allowing 0 earned runs. Doubles by Yadi, Carlson, and Tommy “Two-bags” Edman got the scoring going in the first three innings Making it 2-0 Cardinals. Goldschmidt stays hot collecting an RBI single and solo home run en route to going 2-4. The Cardinals led 3-0 until the top of the 9th when some sloppy defense by San Diego combined with great opposite-field hitting by the Cardinals lineup allowed them to tally 4 more runs to give them some much-needed room to breathe. The Cardinals did their job in game one and now look to see where they will come out in the standings with both the Padres and Reds slumping. September 13th, 2011: STL 6 @ PIT 4 (WC STL -4.5)
September 14th: Final STL 7 @ NYM 6 (WC STL +0.5)
This was a fun and exciting baseball game. Back and forth into 11 innings. Woodford got the start for the Cardinals and the Mets quickly got on the board early as they scored two runs in the bottom of the first off the bats of Michael Conforto, and Javy Baez. Momentum temporarily with the Mets until the Cardinals got the bats going in the top of the 4th inning, tying the game at 2-2 with an RBI single from Tyler O’Neill and a sacrifice fly from Dylan Carlson. Mets starter Marcus Stroman finished his evening with a stat line of 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 8 SO. A quality start from Marcus for the Mets is almost all you can really ask for out of your starter. After Michael Conforto notched his 2nd RBI of the day with a Sac fly in the 5th to put the Mets ahead 3-2, Pete Alonso struck out with a runner in scoring position to end the inning. Kodie Whitley and Genesis Cabrera then combined to keep it scoreless until the 8th. That’s when Tyler O’Neill happened. After Goldy got on with a walk, O’Neill punished a baseball into deep centerfield for a clutch 2-run HR to put the Cardinals back on top 4-3. Onward to the 9th, and Javy Baez. With Gallegos coming out of the bullpen for the Cardinals to close the door, Baez jumped on the first pitch he saw for a solo home run and tie the game 4-4 and pushing the game to extra innings. In the bottom of the 10th, the Mets had runners at 1st and 3rd with only 1 out and Francisco Lindor up at the plate. Lindor grounded the ball sharply to the right sight and straight into the vacuum that is Goldschmidt. Goldy stepped on 1st and quickly turned to fire to Yadi to start a 3-2-5 double play and keep the game scoreless into the 11th. Truly a remarkable double play that saved the game for the birds. Sosa and Pinch-Hitter Andrew Kinzner came through with RBI’s for the Birds to put them on top 7-4. Unfortunately for the Mets, their late-inning push to scratch 2 across in the bottom of the 11th came up ultimately short. The Birds won an exciting game and take 2nd place in the NL Wild Card spot. September 14th, 2011: STL 3 @ PIT 2 (WC STL -4.5)
September 15th: Final STL 11 @ NYM 4 (WC STL +1)
After taking the first two games of the series and the lead in the 2nd NL Wild Card spot, the Cardinals weren’t finished. The Cardinals pounced on Mets starter Tyler Mcgill in the top of the first for 5 runs. Tyler O’Neill, again, comes up big by hitting a 2-run double to take an early lead. The other Cardinals outfielders, Carlson and Bader followed with RBI hits of their own to make it 5-0 by the end of the top of the first. But it was only the first inning, this is September and the Mets are going to fight for their season. Pete Alonso connected for his 33rd HR of the year in the 3rd to make it 5-1. After that, Cardinals starter Jon Lester was pretty much money. Lester only allowed 2 earned runs on two solo HR’s, and finished with a stat line of 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 7 SO. Another great start for Lester. The Cardinals then went on to hit 4 more home runs throughout the game en route to a huge statement sending sweep of the Mets. Check out this video of Lars Nootbar robbing Pete Alonso in the bottom of the 7th of a 3-run home run. At the time, that would have made it a one-run game. This defense is special.
September 15th, 2011: Off Day (WC STL -4.5)
September 16th: Off Day (WC STL +0.5)
September 16th, 2011: STL 4 @ PHI 2 (WC STL -3.5)
September 17th: Final SD 2 @ STL 8 (WC STL +1)
The Cardinals, winners of now five-straight, come home for a weekend celebration. So in tune with our continued comparisons of the 2011 World Series run, St. Louis welcomed the 2011 World Series team into town for the weekend for the 10-year reunion. In other words, it would be wise to play your hardest with legends like Chris Carpenter, David Freese, and Daniel Descalso in the house. Coming into this series the Padres were only a half-game behind the Cards in the standings, so this series has huge implications. So, “Two-Bags” led the game off with a double for the Cardinals allowing Goldschmidt to cash in with his 86th rbi on a single for an early lead. O’Neill continues to stay red hot by following with a 2-run HR to really get the party started. Vince Velasquez, the starter for the Padres, didn’t have a good day at the office going only 4 innings and giving up 4 runs, including 2 hrs. One of those two home runs Velasquez allowed was the first of two on the day for Cardinals rookie Dylan Carlson. One being a grand slam. The Cardinals successfully added on throughout the game and the group of Mikolas, McFarland, Garcia, Reyes, and Cabrera combined to allow only 2 on the evening. The birds hold on for their sixth straight win. September 17th, 2011: STL 2 @ PHI 9 (WC STL -4.5)
September 18th: Final SD 2 @ STL 3 (WC STL +2)
What a special game this was. Before the game, the St. Louis faithful were treated to the 2011 World Series team reunion on the field. The spectacle was complete by a truck parade, video highlights of the 2011 season, and David Freese and Chris Carpenter throwing out the first pitch. Oh and two members of that 2011 team were starting for their 303rd time together here in 2021, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. A pitchers duel early on as a very amped-up Waino, and San Diego starter Yu Darvish were matching zeros through 3 innings. Then in the top of the 4th, San Diego was able to string together a few hits to jump out to a 2-0 lead. Earlier in the season, a 2-0 deficit felt insurmountable, but not recently. Wainwright finished the game with 6 IP, 2 ER, and 2 strikeouts. One shy of 2,000 for his career. Darvish blanked the Cardinals through 7 strong innings in a flash of vintage Darvish striking out 9 in the process. Fortunately for St. Louis, San Diego sent Emilio Pagan to hold the Birds with a three-run lead for the 8th, but St. Louis had different thoughts. Tommy Edman scored Harrison Bader on a sacrifice fly to make it a one-run ballgame. Goldschmidt then walked to set up Tyler O’Neill for the biggest HR of his young career. O’Neill launched the 2-run homer into the visiting bullpen in left, the Cardinals into the lead 3-2, and Busch Stadium into a frenzy. Whitley, Justin Miller, and Gallegos relieved Wainwright respectively and slammed the door to push the winning streak to seven games. September 18th, 2011: STL 5 @ PHI 0 (WC STL -3.5)
September 19th: Final SD 7 @ STL 8 (WC STL +3)
Cardinals going for their eighth win in a row send J.A.Happ to the mound vs Jake Arrieta for the San Diego Padres for the final game. Happ settled in retiring the first six batters he faced. On the other side, Arrieta only got one out… . The Former Cy Young award winner recently signed with the Padres and still cannot find that former touch. He got knocked around for 4 runs in the first (not including the E8 by Tatis Jr. in CF). After being pulled in the first due to injury, the Padres had to cover 26 outs with their bullpen. Not an easy task. J.A. Happ on the other hand lasted 4 IP, giving up 3 ER. Not great either, but better than 0.1 IP. Through the rest of the game, each team sprinkled on runs here and there, including San Diego’s three-run top of the 8th to make it a one-run game. Alex Reyes, TJ McFarland, and Luis Garcia all gave up at least one run on the afternoon. A rarity for the bullpen this month. Though the Padres came close, the Cardinals made sure to respond with runs of their own each time and sent Cabrera and Gallegos in for the 8th and 9th to close it out 8-7. September 19th, 2011: STL 4 @ PHI 3 (WC STL -2.5)
This has been a blast to ride along with. The Cardinals now at eight straight wins look ahead with 14 games left. 7 against the Brewers, and 7 against the Cubs. Yes, they have 3 game lead in the NL Wild Card standings and they have all the momentum on their side right now. But remember, baseball is fickle and the sours of September or October defeats can return as quickly as one bad pitch, or an E6. With that being said though, this team is playing very good baseball right now and I look for them to continue to set a high standard for themselves and win both series this week. Can’t wait to chat with you next week. Follow along, Thanks!