The 2019 season was full of ups and downs for the St. Louis Cardinals but did have some big wins. What was number three?
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.
Along the way, there were some fantastic games played by the team. On the final day of 2019, we are going to count down the top three games of the year. What was number three?
#3: Waino’s gem to finish a home sweep of the Cubs
The Cardinals traveled to Wrigley on the first weekend of May and were embarrassed the Cubs when they lost all three games, prompting a lot of talks that the Cubs would destroy the rest of the NL Central and take the crown and so on.
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However, about a month later, the Cubs came to St. Louis for a series where, after winning the first two games, the Cardinals sent Adam Wainwright to the mound for game three. Remember at this point that Adam Wainwright’s viability was largely in question and even after winning the first two games, there was still a lot on the line.
The first run of the game was scored in the fifth inning on a Kolten Wong sac fly. Pitching in the seventh inning, Adam Wainwright worked around a walk to finish the inning at 109 pitches on the day. He had just shut out the rivals over seven innings and everyone was happy with Waino’s performance, but he wasn’t done.
Coming back out for the eighth, Waino allowed a walk and a single after getting the first out before having to face Kris Bryant with Anthony Rizzo on deck with just one out. What followed was a four pitch strikeout of Bryant and then on a 2-0 count, Waino got Rizzo to line out to shallow right field where Wong made a leaping catch.
The Bryant at-bat begins at 4:45 in this video and the emotion that Wainwright and Wong both showed when they got out of the inning made this game in June feel like a playoff game.
In the end, Waino threw 126 pitches over eight shutout innings and the Cardinals swept the Cubs at home to show them that they would not take the division easily.
Wong’s catch on this last play had a StatCast hit probability of .940 which meant Wong had just a 6% chance to catch it, and yet he did to hold on to the Cardinals’ one-run lead.
The Cardinals tacked on another run in the bottom of the eighth and while John Gant gave up one run in the top of the ninth, he shut the door and the Cardinals emphatically turned the page on both the sweep the Cubs gave them and their terrible month of May all in one weekend. This game also proved that Waino still had the stuff to step up in big-time games where the team needs him.
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This is game number three mostly because of where it was in the season. If this game had happened anywhere later in the season, it would’ve been even bigger but at the time, it gave the rivalry a jolt and made for a great refresh for a team that had been struggling.