The St. Louis Cardinals, with 11 World Series championships and 19 National League pennants, are a franchise rich in history.
Over the next few weeks, we’re going to decide which singular moment is the greatest in history for a team so rooted in baseball lore. The tournament will be done with a 64-seed bracket, continuing today with the 8-9 matchup.
(8) Carpenter’s double off Kershaw, 2014 NLDS
2014 may have been Clayton Kershaw’s best year. He went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, a 0.86 WHIP, a 7.7 K/BB and six complete games, all career bests. His opponents slugged .289 off of him, or lower than any qualified player this year. Kershaw was on an all-time great run heading into the postseason, with a 1.43 ERA since May 18.
Then he allowed four earned runs in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Cardinals, more than he had allowed in all but one start that season. And that was before Matt Carpenter came to the plate.
With Kershaw at 102 pitches, the bases loaded and two runs already home in the frame, the Los Angeles Dodgers elected to stick with their ace still up 6-4. The rest is history.
Carpenter worked a marvelous eight-pitch at-bat, topping it off with a knockout of Kershaw by dropping a bases-clearing double in the gap. The Dodger Stadium crowd was silenced, their ace shockingly defeated again by Cardinals Devil Magic (TM).
It was the type of moment that made the rest of the baseball world question whether the best pitcher on the planet was capable of pitching in the postseason, and wonder how on earth St. Louis kept doing this.
(9) Taguchi’s home run off Wagner, 2006 NLCS
So Taguchi only hit two home runs in 2006. So when he led off the ninth inning in Game 2 of the 2006 NLCS against one of the greatest closers of all time, no one could have hoped for anything more than for him to just get on base. Working a nine-pitch at-bat, most fans were happy Taguchi was at least able to work Billy Wagner hard.
Taguchi did them one better: on the ninth pitch, he sent a fly ball out to left for a 7-6 lead. And with that, the Cardinals stole Game 2 at Shea Stadium. The surprise hero set the tone for the rest of the series, which the Cardinals would go on to win in seven.
Greatest Cardinals Moment
So which moment lives on, and which on moment is knocked-out like Kershaw in 2014 NLDS game 1?
Your choice, Cardinals fans: Two jaw-dropping hits against a pair of the greatest southpaws in history. Which one you got?
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