Thursday, September 19th, was the start of a pivotal four-game series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. What happened next for all Cardinals fans: absolutely priceless! Let’s look back at the biggest series of 2019 six months later.
With just 10 games left in the race for the National League Central title in 2019, the St. Louis Cardinals had a three-game lead over the joint second-placed Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs. Things were far from wrapped up though, with seven games still to play against their I-55 rivals playing a major factor in the race for the postseason.
The Cardinals traveled to Chicago for a four-game series at Wrigley Field. If they won the series, that would knock the Cubs from contention of winning the Central. If they tied the series, the Brewers would be breathing down their necks. But if they lost the series, then the Cubs were right back in contention.
Now add in the fact that the Brewers would go unbeaten during this Cards – Cubs series, the majority of the Cardinal Nation fan base would have taken a split and been ecstatic with a Cardinals 3-1 series win.
What happened next was absolutely unexpected and should be written into Cardinals folklore for years to come – the Wrigley Field Massacre!
For what was a crazy series for the Cardinals, let’s take a look at some key numbers and surprising stats:
- Total games played in the series: 4
- Total games won by the Cardinals: 4 (Miller, Helsley, Gant, Webb)
- Total games won by the Cubs: 0 (N/A)
- Total games decided by a single run: 4
- Total games decided in the final inning: 3
- Total runs scored: 19
- Total runs allowed: 15
- Total run differential: +4
- Total run differential in the final inning: +5 (5 runs scored and none allowed)
- Total home runs: 5 (Carpenter, Ozuna, Molina, DeJong (2))
- Total home runs allowed: 5 (Rizzo, Happ, Hoerner, Kemp, Castellanos)
- Total home runs scored in the final inning: 3 (Carpenter, Molina, DeJong)
Every game went right down the wire with them all being decided by only a single run. There were a total of 19 lead changes across the four games with three clutch home runs hit by the Cards in the top of the final inning to take the lead in two different games. The bullpens were widely used with not a single starter getting a W across the series, and the Cardinals bullpen coming out well on top throughout the weekend.
To show just how impressive and pivotal this series sweep was, below are some key stats for the Cardinals:
- The St. Louis Cardinals last swept a four-game series earlier in the 2019 season against the Colorado Rockies at Busch Stadium back in August 2019
- The Cards last swept a four-game series away from Busch when facing the Pittsburgh Pirates in July 2019
- The Cardinals last swept the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series at Busch Stadium in September 2000
- The Cards last won four games in a series at Wrigley Field in June 1962 (losing the final game of a five-game series 2 – 7)
- The Cards last swept the Cubs in a four games series at Wrigley in 1921 (this is the only time that it had happened)
- The Cards last won four games in a row by one run in May 2015 with a three-game sweep of the Pirates and a 10 – 9 victory over the Cubs
- The Cards last swept an opponent in a four games series by winning each of the games by only one run against the New York Giants in September 1945
- The Cards finished with four different four-game sweeps in 2019 (Dodgers, Pirates, Rockies & Cubs), the last time they did this was back in 1968
Now, let’s recap those memorable games for the nostalgic effect!
Thursday 19th September, Game 1 – “Matt Carpenter hits it outta here to put the Cardinals back in front.”
Jack Flaherty started against Cubs ace Kyle Hendricks. Flaherty was rolling on the back of his league-leading 0.90 ERA over his prior nine games, and he did not disappoint. Going eight innings, allowing just three hits and a walk, with his single earned run being a solo homer from Anthony Rizzo.
This left the Cards up 4-1, going into the bottom of the ninth following two RBIs for Harrison Bader, a Yadier Molina single and Dexter Fowler grounding in a scoring double play. It looked to be an excellent start to the series, then Carlos Martinez decided to ruin the party with a walk, two singles and a double that let the Cubs tie the series opener and take us to extras.
Top of the tenth, Craig Kimbrel making his first start since coming back from a knee injury. The first batter, Fowler, goes down swinging. Then up steps Matt Carpenter…
After the second-longest homer of Carps season, a 431ft bomb to center field the Cards took a 5-4 lead which Giovanny Gallegos closed out for the 1-0 series lead!
Friday 20th September, Game 2 – “One run in, Ozuna will score and the Cardinals have the lead.“
Michael Wacha started against Alec Mills in the Game 2 matchup. Both starting pitchers were widely expected to only go four or five innings each and at the end of the fifth the St. Louis Cardinals were 1-0 down after David Bote scored on an error.
After Ryan Helsley had pitched a safe fifth inning and only allowed one hit, the Cardinals rallied in the sixth. New Cubs pitcher David Phelps walked Paul Goldschmidt and Marcell Ozuna before being replaced by Steve Cishek. Cishek then walked Matt Carpenter to load the bases for Yadier Molina to step up to the plate…
After Molina drilled single between the second baseman and shortstop, Goldy and Ozuna scored to give the Cardinals the lead and allow the pitching staff to do its thing!
The bullpen closed out the sixth without issue, but John Brebbia came into some trouble in the bottom of the seventh which meant that a bases-loaded, two-out catch at the wall was needed by Marcell Ozuna to maintain the Cardinals lead. Miller and Martinez then blasted through the remainder of the lineup to take a 2-0 series lead into Saturday!
Saturday 21st September, Game 3 – “Back-to-back, YES YES YES!“
Dakota Hudson vs. Jose Quintana in Game 3 would be a matchup of similar styles. Unfortunately for the Cards, this was one of Hudson’s poorer outings in what was an exceptional season for the rookie where he was pulled after just three innings. A poor start meant Hudson walked in two runs and allowed a sac fly in the bottom of the first, but the Cards had regained the lead in the top of the fourth after consecutive Rangel Ravelo and Dexter Fowler singles.
The Cardinals pitching woes continued though when Dominic Leone allowed a two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth from Ian Happ with which the Cubs tied the game. Ozuna then took matters into this own hands giving the Cards a 7-6 lead in the seventh when he hit a 100.6 mph home run to bring in Goldy.
The normally solid Gallegos then blew the save when he allowed a two-run blast to Tony Kemp in the seventh inning and the Cards went down 8-7 going into the ninth. In came Craig Kimbrel, fresh off his disastrous return in Game 1 of the series and facing Yadi with DeJong on deck…
After Yadi crushed the first pitch from Kimbrel past the center-field wall, Paul DeJong stepped up to give the Cardinals the lead on Kimbrel’s second pitch of the game. His 106 mph monster was the series clincher for the St. Louis Cardinals and allowed the possibility of the sweep going into Sundays series finale.
#THATSAWINNER and #THATSASERIESWIN
Sunday 22nd September, Game 4 – “The Cardinals have the lead, it’s ninth-inning magic“
Miles Mikolas battled with Yu Darvish and both pitchers had outstanding performances. Mikolas went 7.2 innings allowing two runs on a homer and a passed ball, and Darvish battled out a near-complete game going 8.2 innings.
The Cardinals went into the top of the ninth to face Darvish again, down 2-1 after only a Paul DeJong homer back in the third for the offense. Jose Martinez, pinch-hitting for Tyler Webb, started the inning off with a triple which was converted on a sac-fly by Dexter Fowler to get the Cardinals level. Tommy Edman then hit a single, stole second and was in scoring position for Paul Goldschmidt to step to the plate…
Goldy blasted a 98.8 mph rocket down the third-base line to bring in Tommy Edman and give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead in the game. Up stepped Andrew Miller who closed out the game only allowing a single hit in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Cardinals the necessary win to push towards the postseason.
#THATSAWINNER and #THATSASWEEP
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This series sweep was pivotal in the playoff run. It annihilated the Cubs and kicked them out from postseason contention and most importantly, maintained the Cards three-game lead at the top of the National League Central!