The Cardinals are sprinting down the playoff hunt stretch now and this past week saw the beginning of a line of nine games against the Astros and the Cubs. The first series started out at home against the Astros and the Birds were able to take care of business, though it wasn’t easy. A sweep of the Astros at home was followed by a three game series at Wrigley, a series which featured the 2012 debut of Chris Carpenter, and which turned out to be 2 wins for the Cardinals that were like pulling teeth. Two of the three games in the series went to extra innings and one of those ended in a heartbreaking loss that marred the joy of Chris Carpenter’s return to the mound. But the Cardinals ended the week still in the lead for the second wild card spot. On to the recaps.
Tuesday September 18, 2012—Cardinals 4 Astros 1
Kyle Lohse on the mound for the Redbirds. The Cardinals get on the board in the 2nd. Yadier Molina doubles into the left field corner. Daniel Descalso brings Molina home on a single to right. In the 5th, Pete Kozma hits a triple to right field and Kyle Lohse follows with a double to left, scoring Kozma. Jon Jay then doubles to left, scoring Lohse. 3-0 Birds. In the 7th, Daniel Descalso draws a walk and advances to second on a ground out by Shane Robinson. Jon Jay brings Descalso home on a single to right. The Astros finallly put a run on the board in the 8th against reliever Mitchell Boggs, but it is too little too late for the Astros. Kyle Lohse gets his 15th win.
Wednesday September 19, 2012—Cardinals 5 Astros 0
Again the Cardinals score first in the 2nd. Allen Craig hits a lead off single to left, and David Freese hits a 2 run home run to right center field. In the 4th, Yadier Molina hits a solo shot to left making it 3-0 Cardinals. The Redbirds add their final 2 runs in the 8th. Jon Jay singles to center, then Carlos Beltran singles to center, advancing Jay to third. Matt Holliday hits another single to center, scoring Jay and moving Beltran to third. Allen Craig then hits a sac fly to right to score Beltran. Astros fail to score against Lance Lynn and the bullpen. Lynn gets his 16th win.
Thursday September 20, 2012—Cardinals 5 Astros 4
The rubber game of the series was a little tougher for the Birds, as they were facing their sometimes nemesis Bud Norris. Jaime Garcia on the bump for the Redbirds. Astros score first in the 1st when Jose Altuve leads off with a single to center. A follow up single, and a walk puts Altuve on third. Jaime Garcia then does the one thing a pitcher should never do, he walked in a run. In the bottom of the 1st though the Cardinals fought back, scoring 3. Matt Carpenter hits a line drive single to left and Matt Holliday follows with a single to right. Allen “The Wrench” Craig then blast a 3 run home run to left center field. But the Astros tie it up in the 3rd on two doubles and a single. The Redbirds get the lead back in the 6th after Bud Norris walks both Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma. Astros reliever Wesley Wright then gives up a double to right to pinch hitter Carlos Beltran, which scores both Descalso and Kiozma. The Astros add amother run in the 7th, but the Cardinals hold on to win.
Friday September 21, 2o12—Cardinals 4 Cubs 5
It was Carp Day at Wrigley Field, the day of the most anticipated comeback start of the season. Chris Carpenter, two months after what was billed as season ending surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, hit the mound to start for the Cardinals. The Birds get on the board in the 1st on a Jon Jay double, a sac bunt by Carlos Beltran (did anyone really NOT groan loudly and want to tear their hair out at that one) and an RBI single by Yadier Molina. The Cardinals add another run in the 3rd on a Jom Jay single and a Matt Holliday double. In the bottom of the 3rd, the Cubs add two on a hiccup from Chris Carpenter, who allows a triple, a single, and a double. The Birds retake the lead in the 4th when Pete Kozma triples and then steals home on what appeared to be a squeeze play gone awry because the pitch sailed pass Daniel Descalso to the backstop. Chris Carpenter exits the game in the 5th with a lead, and the Cardinals pad that lead in the 8th on a Matt Carpenter single and a Daniel Descalso double. Unfortunately, on a theme that has dogged the Redbirds all season, the bullpen, in the form of the usually reliable Fernando Salas, coughs up the lead on a two run homer by, who would have guessed it, Darwin Barney. The game goes into extra innings, the bane of the Redbirds’ existence. And, in keeping with the theme, the Cardinals again lose in extras in the 11th, walk off single given up by Joe Kelly to David DeJesus.
Saturday September 22, 2012—Cardinals 5 Cubs 4
Extra innings again, but this time with a better result. And it’s Adam Wainwright on the mound for the Cardinals. The Redbirds score 1 in the 2nd. Allen Craig singles, David Freese walks, and Daniel Descalso singles to load the bases. Cubs starter Travis Wood then does that thing that pitchers shouldn’t do and walks Pete Kozma to score the Cardinals’ first run. The Cardinals add two more runs in the 3rd. Carlos Beltran singles to left, and Matt Holliday doubles to right to score Beltran. Matt Holliday advances to third on a ground out by Allen Craig, and Yadier Molina brings Holliday home with a sac fly. 3-0 Birds. Waino gives up a run in the bottom of the 3rd on a a rare wild pitch. The Cardinals maintain a lead until the 6th, when Waino gets into trouble and gives up 3 runs to the Cubbies, one a solo shot by David DeJesus. The Cardinals tie the game in the 9th on a solo home run by Carlos Beltran. The Cardinals take the lead in the 10th when Matt Carpemter walks and Jon Jay brings him home on a double to right field. Jason Motte gets the save in the 10th.
Sunday September 23, 2o12—Cardinals 6 Cubs 3
Kyle Lohse starts for the Cardinals. The Redbirds plate 3 in the 3rd. Jon Jay is hit by a pitch. Matt Carpenter singles to right, Matt Holliday singles to center, Jon Jay stops at 3rd and Matt Carpenter has a brain freeze and doesn’t stop at second, meeting Jon Jay at third for an out. Then there is a wild pitch, whereby Matt Holliday moves to second but Jon Jay doesn’t move home. Allen Craig then bails out the brain freeze twins by hitting a double to left, scoring Jay and Holliday. David Freese then singles to center to score Craig. Kyle Lohse gives up two runs to the Cubs in the 4th to make it a one run game. The Cardinals get a run back in the 6th when Pete Kozma gets his first major league home run. The Cubbies take that run back in the bottom of the 6th on a solo shot by Alfonso Soriano. The Cardinals increase their lead by 2 more in the 8th. David Freese walks and Skip Schumaker singles, David Freese advancing to third. Pinch runner Adrom Chambers replaces Freese, and then scores on a sac fly by Pete Kozma. Carlos Beltran then singles Skip Schumaker home. Jason Motte comes in in the 9th to get his 40th save of the season and Kyle Lohse gets his 16th win.