Winning Streak: St. Louis Cardinals Weekly recap disclaimer: I generally giggle just a bit in disbelief each time I type how long this streak has lasted in the following article. It’s nuts. I hope you’re smiling too, fellow bird watchers.
For St. Louis and Cardinal nation, every year as autumn approaches, there is one thing that we constantly notice; playoff baseball. In a time where the world has been dark and quiet for many, baseball can be a solace. But when there is no baseball, what do you find remedy with? There were times where we, as a general collective, didn’t know what the future held for baseball. Problems arose in varying forms for MLB teams across baseball, not excluding the Cardinals. Teams were in the dark about attendance for the 2021 season, and so in return, they did not know how much they could spend in the offseason to try and improve the club. St. Louis had to wait until the very last minute in the offseason the past offseason to provide fans with some solace.
The signing of Adam Wainwright, trade for Nolan Arenado, and re-signing of Molina within a two-week span sent a jolt of excitement through Cardinal nation that fans had not felt in years. Unfortunately, by July 1st, the Cardinals were 40-42 and looked mediocre. That solace was nowhere to be found, and the stands were drying up in St. Louis. San Diego also led the wild card by 6 games, and the path October looked hard for St. Louis. Now, on September 28th, the St. Louis Cardinals are 87-69. 5.5 games ahead of 2nd place and ride a sixteen-game winning streak. These are two different teams, and that peace and comfort have been found again.
In last week’s recap article, I spoke of the 2011 World Series playoff run. This article gives you a recap of the week that just ended in Cardinals baseball, as well as a refresher of the scores from the September playoff run during the week of September 20-26 2011.
Continuing the Winning Streak This Week
Final STL 5 @ MIL 2 (WC STL +3.5)
Fresh off their second straight series sweep, and eight straight wins, the Birds go on the road to start a four-game series with Milwaukee, the actual division leaders. Jon Lester got the ball for the Cardinals in the opener against Milwaukee’s Cy-Young contender Freddy Peralta.
From the get-go, it was easy to see Peralta came out fired up and excited in the prospect of trying to stop the red-hot Cardinals. To his credit, he struck out both Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt on 7 pitches to start the game. He looked phenomenal early on. Then the maturation of O’Neill was on full display as he laid off of sliders down to eventually got a fastball he could lace into centerfield for a single. Then on the very next pitch, just as quickly as the game started in roaring fashion for the Brewers, it fell apart. With one thwack of the bat, Arenado put the Cards up 2-0 and became the first Cardinal to hit 30+ HR’s and drive in 100+ runs in a season since Albert Pujols did so in 2010. Lester, opposite, had a clean 1st inning but in the bottom of the 2nd found trouble. Avisail Garcia and Luis Urias for the Brewers connected on solo shots to hit their 28th and 21st Hrs on the yea, respectively to tie the game 2-2.
From then on, it was a pitcher’s duel until the 6th. O’Neill worked a lead-off walk and eventually came around to score on a rbi single by Yadi to make it 3-2 birds. Peralta finished his afternoon for the Brewers going 6 innings, allowing 3, but striking out 9. The Cardinals went on to add on a run in the 7th and 8th as well for some insurance. However, they didn’t end up needing it as the bullpen did their job shutting the door. After Lester left (6 IP, 2 ER, 2 SO), Whitley, McFarland, and Garcia did not allow a hit in their three innings of work. The Cardinals have now won NINE straight for the first time since 2004.
September 20th, 2011: STL 11 @ NYM 6 (WC STL -2.5)
Final STL 2 @ MIL 1 (WC STL +4)
(STL) Jake Woodford vs. (MIL) Brandon Woodruff
What is especially impressive is that in this Nine game winning streak, the Cardinals are winning games in multiple ways. Today was smart, fundamental, well played, playoff-like baseball. The Cardinals jumped on Freddy Peralta in the 1st yesterday and did the same against Woodruff today. Tommy Edman worked a very impressive leadoff walk, Stole 2nd base, advanced to third on a Goldy 4-3 groundout, and scored on a Sacrifice fly from O’Neill (1-0). Then it was nothing but pitching and Defense for the next 7 innings.
Woodford ended his afternoon going 5 innings, striking out 5, and allowing zero runs. He looks confident. Woodruff, for Milwaukee, flexing his strikeout muscle, went 6 innings, striking out 10, but did allow that scrappy run in the 1st. In the 8th, Lars Nootbar came into the game as a replacement for Dylan Carlson, worked a walk, and scored on another Tommy Edman contribution, an rbi single (2-0).
Luis Garcia came in for the Cardinals in the bottom of the 8th, and the Brewers responded with a Sacrifice fly of their own. Willy Adames scores Jackie Bradley Jr. (2-1), but that was it. Gallegos came in the bottom of the 9th for the Cardinals, bent, but did not break, including walking Christian Yelich to load the bases before striking out Manny Pina to end the ball game. The win sends a message to the Brewers that the Birds can hang come October and the Cardinals to their first TEN game-winning streak since 2001.
September 21st, 2011: STL 6 @ NYM 5 (WC STL -1.5)
Final STL 10 @ MIL 2 (WC STL +4.5)
Honestly a fairly easy win for the Birds in this one. Miles Mikolas vs. Brett Anderson. The tale of two coins. Anderson had a bad day at the office, going only 1.2 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs. Mikolas, on the other hand, had a wonderful afternoon as he continues to build up from missing most of the year. Miles allowed 2 earned runs through 7 innings and induced 13 groundballs. That’s how you use your defense. Vintage Miles Mikolas is a groundball machine, and with this 2021 version of the Cardinals defense, that’s a very good combo. Anderson fell victim to the first inning Cardinal attack again, as Tyler O’Neill launched his 29th HR of the year to make it 2-0 right away. In the 2nd inning, the Cardinals showed off that grit again when they had runners on 2nd and 3rd in Harrison Bader and Edmundo Sosa, respectively. Tommy Edman hit a ball to deep right-center that was caught on a fantastic play by Lorenzo Cain. Wisely, BOTH runners tagged up to score. The first 2-run sacrifice fly for the Cardinals since 2009 (4-0). The Cardinals continued to pile it on throughout the game to the tune of 10-2, as a final. Standouts include Goldy and Bader, who both had three hits; Arenado, and O’Neill also collected two hits each with 5 rbi’s between them.
The only two runs Mikolas allowed were an rbi single to Luis Urias in the 5th and a solo home run off the bat of Avisail Garcia in the 7th. That was it for the Milwaukee bats on the afternoon. Bother Justin and Andrew Miller came in to finish the game for the birds and secure the Eleventh straight win. Unreal. The Cardinals look like the division leaders, not Milwaukee.
September 22nd, 2011: STL 6 @ NYM 8 (WC STL -4.5)
Final STL 8 @ MIL 5 (WC STL +4.5)
This is the one I thought the Birds might lose. Shoot, by the bottom of the 4th, it was already 5-0 Milwaukee and, Adam Wainwright was even pitching. Alas, they are refusing to lose right now. Wainwright, not having his best stuff, got buried early. Tyrone Taylor hit a grand slam in the bottom of the 1st to put the Brewers on top 4-0. Then in the bottom of the 4th, Taylor hit another HR, this one solo, to put his team up 5-0. Waino had not allowed 5 earned runs since May 15th, but everyone has an off day.
How did the Cardinals respond? Well, Dylan Carlson helped get things going in the top of the 5th, hitting a 1 out triple and scoring on a Yadi rbi single (5-1) en route to going 3-4 on the afternoon. Fast forward to the 7th inning, and the Cardinals had chased Brewers starter Adrian Houser out of the game after he had gone 6 IP, only allowing 1. The Brewer’s bullpen and defense did not help their cause. Tommy Edman grounded into a forceout that scored Edmundo Sosa (5-2). Speed then continues to cause headaches for opposing teams as an errant pick-off throw to first base allowed Harrison Bader to score, making it 5-3. Then Goldschmidt happened. Driving his 28th home run of the season over the left-center wall to tie the game 5-5, AND his 29th HR of the season in the 9th capping off the comeback 8-5.
KK. McFarland, Garcia, and Gallegos combined respectively to go 5 innings in relief and allow 0 runs. While for the Brewers, Cousins, Boxberger, and Ashby combined for 3 innings allowing 6 runs. Firstly I expected the Brewers to put up more of a fight. Secondly, this lineup is about as hot as you can get right now. Everyone is contributing. 12 wins in a row. First time since 1982. A year they went to the World Series.
September 23rd, 2011: STL 6 @ PIT 4 (WC STL -4.5)
Game 1 Final STL 8 @ CHC 5 (WC STL +5)
I love doubleheaders, and apparently, so do the Cardinals. Game one pitted two lefties against pone another: J.A. Happ for the Cardinals and Justin Steele for the Cubs. Steele, making just his 9th career start, fell victim to the long ball and the red-hot Cardinals lineup. In the 3rd, Goldschmidt continued his quest in joining Nolan Arenado as Cardinals with 30 Homeruns, as he put the birds up 2-0 with one swing. The ball wasn’t done leaving the park though as in the 5th Cardinals pinch hitter Jose Rondon, and Tyler O’Neill both collected 2-run shots of their own to put the birds up 6-0. O’Neill joins Goldschmidt and Arenado with 30+ HR’s, thus becoming the first trio of Cardinals with 30+ HR’s since the MV3 (Pujols, Rolen, Edmonds) did so in 2004.
The birds finished their scoring in the 6th, 8-0. The Cubbies tried to come back, but with 7 inning games, no time. Reyes, who came in for Happ (4 IP, 0 ER) didn’t have his best stuff on the afternoon giving up 4 earned runs. Though the Cardinals had a sizable enough lead and were able to settle down in time to let Gallegos secure game one and their 13th straight win, 8-5. One injury to note. Edmundo Sosa left the game with an undisclosed wrist injury after a HBP in the 6th. His combination of speed and defense with his ability to put together professional at-bats has propelled him into the starting SS position here towards year’s end. Let’s keep an eye on that and see if former all-star Paul DeJong can find his swing again.
Game 2 Final STL 12 @ CHC 4
Amazingly the Cardinals are averaging 6.93 runs per game in the thirteen-game winning streak, and have yet to see it end. Today was no different. Tying the 1935 franchise record of fourteen (What?!), yes fourteen games in a row, the Cardinals sent Jack Flaherty to the rubber for the first time since exiting on August 24th with a strained right shoulder. The Cubs sent Zach Davies. The Cardinals wasted no time in scoring as they quickly loaded up the bases and allowed veteran Yadier Molina drives in 2 to start things off 2-0. That brought up the ( soon to be announced) NL player of the week, Harrison Bader with the first hit of his 3-4 night. Bader’s rbi single made 3-0 in the 1st. The Cubs, then getting a chance against a rusty Flaherty, tagged him for 2 runs making it 3-2 on a Patrick Wisdom HR ( former St. Louis draftee.) Jack had a low pitch limit he was allowed to throw and thus exited only recording 1 out. We then saw the return of another St. Louis starter, Dakota Hudson. Hudson last pitched in September of 2020, and missed all of this season with Tommy John, came on to throw 3.2 innings, allowing 2 runs, and inducing 6 groundouts. If the Cardinals can get a healthy Dakota Hudson, that’s huge.
From there on, the birds found the sky and often mashing five home runs. Lars Nootbar had the first multi-homerun game of his career, with Bader, O’Neill (2nd of the day), and DeJong all getting in on the fun mashing bombs of their own. Davies (6 ER in 2 IP) and the Cubs couldn’t keep up and fell 12-4. Unbelievable what we’re seeing here. The team is playing with a ton of energy. With a win tomorrow the Cardinals will set a new franchise record.
September 24th, 2011: STL 6 @ PIT 4 (WC STL -4.5)
Final STL 8 @ CHC 5 (WC STL +5)
A wild and crazy game. Career start #450 for Jon Lester, and his first trip back to Wrigley since becoming a Cardinal. Fresh off of a doubleheader sweep the day before and tieing the franchise record for most wins in a row, 14. The birds were feeling it.
Off of Cubs starter Adrian Sampson, none other than Harrison Bader got things started for the Cardinals by swatting his 14th HR of the season to make it 1-0. The Cubs then scored 2 of their own in the 3rd to take the lead 2-1. Back and forth the two teams found themselves dancing during the middle innings. Where Tyler O’Neill, who continues to crush the ball, collected his 32nd HR to tie it 2-2 in the 5th, Contreras for the Cubs put Chicago back ahead 3-2 right away in the bottom. It wasn’t until the 7th that we saw our last lead change. Lars Nootbar laced a single to CF making it 4-4, and Paul DeJong hit a Sacrifice fly to make it 5-4 birds. Then, In the bottom of the 8th TJ McFarland and the St. Louis Cardinals turned what I consider to be one of the best double plays you will ever see.
You HAVE to see this 3-2-5-4-2-8-6 Double play. That was one of four double plays the Cards got on the afternoon backing up Lester, Kim, McFarland, and Garcia to continue to show off their menacing defense. The Cards scored 3 more in the 9th to make it 8-4 with help from Paul DeJong and his 19th home run. Ian Happ for the Cubs added a solo shot to make it 8-5, but that would be the final as the Cardinals held on. Harrison Bader had himself a day going 4-4, 2b, HR, 2 rbi’s, and 2 stolen bases. Oh, and the Cardinals won their fifteenth game in a row.
September 25th, 2011: STL 6 @ PIT 4 (WC STL -4.5)
Winning Streak Continues
Final STL 4 @ CHC 2 (WC STL +6)
Last road game of the year and a chance to push their winning streak to the longest any NL team has had since 1951. The Cardinals sent Jake Woodford to the mound opposite Chicagos, Keegan Thompson. This one was a little different, but not. Scoreless through the first two innings, familiar faces came through with help for the Cardinals. Paul Goldschmidt connected for his 31st HR in the 3rd making it 1-0.
After that, though the Cubs answered back scoring 2 runs with some good hitting from Sergio Alcantara and David Bote, 1-2. Then, for a while, it looked as though the birds might lose. It was quiet, very quiet until 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th. Harrison Bader launched his 15th HR deep into the left-field bleachers and tied the game 2-2 in what was a massive blow to the Cubs, and a huge boost for the birds. The Cardinals then rode that momentum and took advantage of a shakey Adrian Houser, scoring 2 more times to make it 4-2.
Gallegos went out and closed the door earning his 12th save in his last 15 appearances, and the Cardinal’s Sixteenth straight victory during the current winning streak.
September 26th, 2011: STL 6 @ PIT 4 (WC STL -4.5)
Here’s where we stand; the Birds travel back home to St. Louis and try to extend their already MLB month of September record 16 game winning streak with 3 games against Milwaukee and 3 against the Cubs. With one more win they will have locked up the 2nd Wild Card spot and we just are waiting to see if they will travel to LA to play the Dodgers or San Francisco to play the Giants. Either way, that game is not until October 6th, we have one more week of the regular season to cover. I will be here to bring you all your Cardinals coverage as we see how long this winning streak will go. What has been a favorite moment or player to watch of these last 16 games? Leave a comment and let us know! Talk to you soon.