Game Recap: Cards Defeat D-Backs 1-0 in Final Game of Season

The Bottom Line: When the Reds defeated the Pirates earlier in the day, the Cardinals became the division champs. The Cardinals had originally scheduled Adam Wainwright to start the last game of the season but decided to rest him and let rookie Nick Greenwood (2-1, 5.18 ERA) the start instead. Greenwood has made 18 relief appearances, but this first start of his Major League career, he pitched a stellar 3 innings, giving up no runs and only one hit. The bullpen took care of the remainder of the game, giving up only one more hit for the rest of the game.

Although the Cards offense never quite woke up, they managed to get a run in the 6th inning on Kolten Wong‘s RBI groundout. That was all they needed to win while being backed up by dominant pitching.

What’s Next: The St. Louis Cardinals head to the playoffs for 4th straight year. They will face off against the Dodgers in the Division Series, starting on Friday.

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BREAKING NEWS: CARDS WIN DIVISION

With a loss to the Reds, the Pirates have solidified the Cardinals’ division victory this afternoon.

The Reds beat the Pirates 4-1 just before Adam Wainwright took the mound to face Arizona in what could very well be the Cards’ 90th win of the season. After trailing Milwaukee the vast majority of the year, the Cardinals can breathe a sigh of relief and play their only “meaningless game” this afternoon against the D-backs.

Although fans would prefer for the Redbirds to win on their own accord, an enormous burdon has been lifted from St. Louis. Without the one game playoff, the Cards can prepare for what will certainly be an explosive series against the Dodgers.

It has truly been a spectacular season. But the drama has only just begun.

Postseason Scenarios

So, with one more game left to play in the regular season, what’s at stake for the Cardinals?  Let’s take a look at how the postseason might play out.

The Periphery: 

The Washington Nationals have already secured the best record in the National League. This means that they will have home-field advantage through the NLCS and play the winner of the wildcard game.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have already secured the division title in the NL West and will therefore have home-field advantage and play the division champion of the NL Central.

The San Francisco Giants have secured a wild card spot and will not have home-field advantage in the wild card game.

Here’s Where it gets Interesting:

Two things have to go right for the Pirates today if they want to overtake the Cardinals as the NL Central division champion. One) The Cardinals have to lose against the Diamondbacks today. Two) The Pirates have to beat the Reds today. If this situation were to play out, both the Cardinals and the Pirates would share the same record of 89-73. This means that there would be a tiebreaker game to determine who the division champion would be.  Since the Cardinals have won their series against the Pirates with an 11-8 record, the Cardinals would have home-field advantage for that game. Obviously, the loser of that game would secure a wildcard spot.

If things do not play out like that today, the Cardinals be the division champions of the NL Central and will begin the NLDS against the Dodgers in LA. The Pirates would then play the Giants in the wildcard game.

Cardinals’ Outlook: A lot of things have to go right in order for the Pirates to sweep the division title from under the Cardinals. However, the only way that they can seal their fate as the NL Central champions is by winning today.

Game Recap: Cards Fall to Arizona 5-3

The Bottom Line:  The Cardinals couldn’t pull out the win tonight.  After a rough first inning in which David Peralta and Mark Trumbo hit back to back home runs, starter Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.73 ERA) was able to hold Arizona to 2 runs after six innings.  The Cardinals were clearly outhit by the Diamondbacks, as they could only muster 2 runs the entire game.  The nail in the coffin was a 3 run blast from Trumbo in the seventh, which gave the Diamondbacks the 3 run lead that they would maintain for the rest of the game.

 

Postseason Push: The Cardinals are lucky that the Pirates also lost tonight, otherwise they would no longer hold the top spot in the NL Central. The Cardinals are currently still up by 1.0 game.  The Cardinals cannot afford to drop another game as the Pirates are not looking to blow another opportunity to leapfrog the Cardinals in the standings. While there is only one more game left, the Cardinals need to get some momentum going into the postseason, and a big win tomorrow would be just the way to do that.

Game Recap: Cards beat D-Backs Through 10

The Bottom Line: It was a close one, but the Cards pulled it off.  Trailing behind the Diamondbacks until the sixth inning, the Cardinals were able to take the lead with a 2 run double from Jhonny Peralta and a sac-fly from Yadier Molina.  However, in the eighth inning, reliever Pat Neshek gave up 3 runs to bring the score to an even 6-6.  The game went on till the tenth inning when Peralta drove in the go ahead run on a single.  The Cards were able to keep Arizona at bay in the bottom of the tenth and come out with the “W.”  This win snaps a two game skid and puts the Cards 1.0 game ahead of the Pirates. The division title isn’t going to come easy.

Jhonny Peralta

Postseason Push: The Cardinals cannot afford to falter with Pittsburgh nipping at their heals. The division is theirs to lose. On a separate and more optimistic note, Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.18 ERA) looked like he had more command on the mound tonight.  He lasted 5.0 innings and only gave up 2 earned runs.  This was his last start to get ready for the playoffs.  Lets hope that he has finally found his groove.

This Day in Cardinals History: Bob Forsch Pitches Second No-Hitter on September 26, 1983

There have been 10 no-hitters in Cardinals history. Bob Forsch threw two of them; the first was against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 16, 1973, then another 31 years ago today.

With a career 168-136 record and 3.76 ERA, Bob Forsch has the third most wins in Cardinals franchise history, behind only Bob Gibson and Jesse Haines. Although he was never an All-Star,  he secured his place in St. Louis history by throwing the only two no-hitters at the old Busch Stadium. He never was an All-Star, but in addition to being remembered as a power pitcher with a blazing fastball, he was one of the better-hitting pitchers of his time, sporting a career .213 batting average, knocking 12 homers in his career, and winning 2 Silver Sluggers.

He passed away on November 3, 2011 at age 61, less than a week after he threw the first pitch before game 7 of the 2011 World Series.

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Game Preview: Cards Vs Diamondbacks in Final Series of the Regular Season

The Pitching Matchup: Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.18 ERA) has not pitched past the 4th inning in any of his 3 starts since September 4, a precaution taken by the Cardinals to make sure Wacha is not overworked after returning from a 2-month stint on the disable list. Having given up 8 earned runs in 11 2/3 innings since returning, Wacha is still trying to regain his command and prove that he can be a valuable asset to the Cardinals come October.

Trevor Cahill (3-12, 5.55 ERA) has lost 4 straight decisions and has not won a game since August 15, and he has failed to reach the 6th inning since August 20. His performance has correlated with the down year the Diamondbacks, who have a Major League worst 63-96 record, have had. This year is in the books for Arizona baseball, but with this start, Cahill has a chance to end his season on a positive note.

Michael Wacha

Michael Wacha

The Skinny: Since the Cards dropped their last two games, the Pirates are just now one game behind in the NL Central. The last three games of the regular season are crucial, as it looks like the division race is going to be a photo finish. The last thing the Cardinals want is to have to play a tiebreaker with Pittsburgh.

Game Recap: Cards Lose 1-3 to Cubs in Lackey’s Strong Outing

The Bottom Line: John Lackey went a strong 6 2/3 innings, striking out 8 and giving up 2 runs. However, Jake Arrieta was even more stellar, allowing one unearned run and striking out 10 in 7 innings. Arrieta has now given up only 3 earned runs in his last 28 innings.

When his offense had not given him any support by the 4th inning, Arrieta took matters into his own hands by hitting a 2-RBI triple, the first triple of his career. The Cardinals got on the board the next inning when catcher Wellington Castillo‘s throw, intended to gun down Peter Bourjos stealing second base, sailed into center field, allowing Yadier Molina to stroll home from third.

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Postseason Push: The Pirates lost to Atlanta, so the Cards’ 1.5-game lead remains intact as the Cardinals head over to Arizona for the final series of the season. Playing against the Diamondbacks, the Cards’ standing in the division looks safe, but they cannot afford to take the final three games for granted.

What’s Next: On Friday, Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.18 ERA) will take the mound against the Diamondbacks’ Trevor Cahill (3-12, 5.55 ERA). As the Cardinals look to build momentum heading into October, Wacha will try to prove that he can be a dependable part of the rotation in the post-season.

Game Preview: Cards at Cubs (9/24/14)

The Bucs have been keeping pace with Cardinals, just 1.5 games back after clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday. The last four games of the season are crucial in deciding the NL Central.

The Pitching Matchup: After giving up 6 runs on his September 5th start, and getting ejected in the 3rd inning in his September 10 start, John Lackey (3-2, 4.50 ERA) took a 9-day rest and threw a gem in his last start, join 7 2/3 innings and giving up only 1 run on 6 hits to earn his third win since coming over from Boston in August.

Jake Arrieta (9-5, 2.65 ERA) threw a complete game one-hit shutout in his last start, fanning a career high 13 and taking a no-hitter into the 7th inning for the third time this season. He has given up 2 runs or less in 8 of his last 10 starts, and he has given up 3 hits or less in 7 starts this season.

John Lackey

John Lackey

The Skinny: Before his last start, Lackey had a 6.02 ERA since joining the Cardinals on August 3, but then after his September 19 gem, it seemed that all he needed was a good rest to get back into form. Despite Arrieta having thrown quite a number of gems this season, he implodes on some days, giving up 6 and 8 earned runs in 2 of his last 8 outings.

Game Recap: Cards Lose to Cubs in Extras

The Bottom Line: Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.68) went just 4.1 innings on Tuesday night as he gave up three runs on a couple of home runs.  He surrendered five hits in addition to two walks.  He did, however, have eight strikeouts over his short outing.  The Cubs were in control of the game until the sixth inning when Jon Jay produced an RBI ground out, and Matt Holliday hit a two-run shot that put him at the 20th homer mark for the ninth consecutive year. The Cards, however, would fall to the Cubs in the bottom of the 10th, 4-3, as Pat Neshek received the loss.

 

Matt Holliday

Matt Holliday

 

Postseason Push: With the Pirates beating the Braves earlier on Tuesday night, the Cards only remain 1.5 ahead of the Bucs with four games to go.  Because of the newer playoff format of having a wild card single-elimination playoff game, it is crucial that the Cards win the division to avoid having to play in it.

 

What’s Next?: The Cards take on the Cubs in the final game of the series with John Lackey (3-2, 4.50) pitching against Jake Arrieta (9-5, 2.65).