Last night, Stephen Piscotty had a HUGE go-head 3-run home run that helped the Cardinals salvage a series tie in Chicago. That got me thinking.. What are the top 3 moments of the season so far?
#3: Aledmys Diaz’s home run against the Giants on 6/5/16
The build up: Remember that time in the season when the Cards couldn’t beat a team with an above .500 record? Yeah, this was the home run that ended the losing trend. For the first two months of the season, the Cardinals did not win a single series against a team with a .500 or better record. On this Saturday matinee game, Cardinals nation was restless, as the team was trailing 4-1 in the 5th inning. The Cardinals had already dropped their series opener the night before in a frustrating 5-1 loss. That loss was especially frustrating because we made Johnny Cueto look like Clayton Kershaw.
What happened: With two outs, two Cardinals hitters managed to string together consecutive hits to set the stage. In stepped Aledmys Diaz with runners on first and second. Then, magic happened. Diaz took Jeff Samardzija deep to left field, as he clank a home run off the foul pole. The uncertainty of whether the home run was going to stay fair definitely elevated the moment. As soon as the ump circled his finger in the air, Cardinals nation exhaled a giant sigh of relief.
The effect: The Cardinals went on to win this game 7-4, as Stephen Piscotty and Matt Adams both homered later in the game. Diaz’s home run lit a spark in this Cardinals team, which went on to win 7 of their next 8 games, including a 3 game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The best part about Diaz’s home run? We didn’t have to hear about how the Cardinals couldn’t beat a winning team anymore.
#2: The Cardinals rally against the Cincinnati Reds in bottom of the 9th.
The build up: Cardinals nation was about as frustrated as I could remember. In the first week and a half of August, the Cards had a really easy 9-game stretch, in which fans expected the team to gain serious ground on the Cubs in the NL Central standings. In a span of 10 days, the Cards would play the Cincinnati Reds 6 times and the Atlanta Braves 3 times. Both of these opponents are clearly in rebuilding mode and they possess two of the worst records in baseball. However, in the first 6 games of this stretch, the Cardinals went a measly 2-4 against these teams. On 8/8/16, the Cards looked like they were about to drop to 2-5 in this stretch, trailing the Reds 4-0 heading into the bottom of the 9th.
What happened: An absolute miracle happened. Call it a Hail Mary. This was the string of events. After Yadier Molina singled to lead off the inning, the Reds recorded two quick outs. Tommy Pham followed with a walk and Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch. Matt Carpenter delivered with a single to plate two runs. 4-2 Reds. Piscotty followed with single and drove in a run. 4-3 Reds. After Holliday was intentionally walked to load the bases and Cingrani was relieved from the game, Moss drew a walk to tie the game. 4-4. Then, Molina was back up and was drilled by a pitch. Ball game. 5-4 Cardinals. This comeback was absolutely legendary.
The effect: Unfortunately, this comeback didn’t spark the Cardinals like we would expect. Then again this is the 2016 Cardinals so maybe that is expected? Whatever. The Cards go on 4 of their next 7, which included this past weekend’s series at Wrigley. At least the Cardinals managed to beat the Reds in that series after this ridiculous comeback in game 1 of the 3 game set.
#1: The Cardinals steal one against the Mets
The build up: The Cardinals were a half game behind the Mets in the NL Wild Card race. After splitting the first two games in the series, the Cardinals looked like they were heading to another disappointing loss. In the bottom of the 7th, Yoenis Cespedes took Adam Wainwright deep for a 2-run home run to put the Mets up 4-3. With a strong bullpen and an almost invincible Mets bullpen, this game looked over.
What happened: The Cards shocked the baseball world and beat Jeurys Familia, one of the best closers in the league. At this point, Familia had a string of 52 consecutive saves, the 3rd longest streak in MLB history. However, Molina and Kolten Wong both didn’t care. They both had RBI doubles to put the Cardinals up 5-4 in the 9th inning. Seung-hwan Oh came in to close the game in the bottom of the 9th. The Cardinals won this game (and series) to go up a half-a-game on the Mets for the 2nd NL Wild Card spot. Kolten Wong’s reaction just showed how big of a moment this was.
The effect: After this win against the Mets, the Cards also won their next 2 games against the Miami Marlins, another NL Wild Card contender. This string of 3 straight wins against contenders showed fans what this team is capable of. However, the Cardinals lost the following two games in Miami for a series tie. The history involved with beating an unbeatable closer definitely elevated this moment.