The 2019 season was full of ups and downs for the St. Louis Cardinals but did have some big wins. What was the second-best game?
The St. Louis Cardinals jumped back into the postseason in 2019 with a team that many thought had no chance to win the division. After being the best team in the entire league in April, the Cardinals fell flat on their faces in May with the worst month in franchise history.
All the while, no team took hold of first place in the NL Central and the Cardinals scratched and clawed to climb to the top of the division and hold their spot there until the season ended. Of course, the NLDS win over the Atlanta Braves was great but it was followed with a disappointing skunk in the NLCS sweep by the Washington Nationals.
You saw game number three of the countdown, and for number two, we are going to stick with the same opponent: the Cubs. If you watched the team regularly, you probably know what this game is going to be but if not, let’s look at why this game was so huge.
#2: Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong stun the Cubs at Wrigley
This game was the third game of the four-game “Wrigley Massacre” at the end of September. This game was even bigger than Adam Wainwright‘s gem for multiple reasons. First, the Cardinals came into this weekend series against the Cubs with a three-game lead over the Brewers (and had lost a series to them earlier in the week) and four games on the Cubs.
The Brewers were on a hot streak and were playing the Padres and the Pirates while the Cubs and Cardinals clashed and if the series went poorly, the Cardinals could’ve found themselves with a division lead dwindled down or even out of first place. Also, the Cardinals had gotten swept twice when playing at Wrigley in two series earlier in the year. A perfect storm of bad things were coming for the Cardinals and fans were worried.
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Coming into the third game of the series, the Cardinals had already started strong and won the first two by just one run after Jack Flaherty and Michael Wacha put together good starts. In the third game, Dakota Hudson faced off against Jose Quintana.
After the Cardinals got a run in the first, the Cubs put up three on Hudson in their half of the inning. After scoring a run in the third, Rangel Ravelo and Dexter fowler put the Cards up 5-3 in the fourth. To avoid getting repetitive and boring, homers by Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Marcell Ozuna, and Tony Kemp kept flipping the score until the Cubs led 8-7 heading into the ninth.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Cubs had their shiny mid-season pickup in Craig Kimbrel coming in to face Molina, DeJong, and Matt Wieters. What happened next was the most exciting five minutes of the regular season. On the first pitch to Molina, Kimbrel left a 97 MPH fastball up in the zone which Molina put in the bleachers to tie the game. On the very next pitch, Kimbrel left another 96 MPH fastball up and DeJong hit it a mile to give the Cardinals the lead.
Molina’s dream killer is at 4:30 and DeJong’s is right after. With just two pitches, Craig Kimbrel ruined the game and the Cardinals took the lead. The stunned crowd at Wrigley booed the closer off the mound and as a Cardinals fan, I could watch that replay, that reaction from the fans, the reaction from the team for hours on repeat.
Carlos Martinez came in and shut the door in the ninth and the Cardinals had won the first three games of the series by one run. They did it in their road blue jersey’s, proving the curse wrong too. The Cardinals went on to win the next game too, sweeping the series and crushing the will of the Cubs on the second-to-last weekend of the year.
This game was by far the best regular-season moment of the year and there are so many iconic photos of the team celebrating Yadi and DeJong’s homers. This proved that Yadi can still get it done when he needs to, just like Yadi.