The St. Louis Cardinals are playing a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday, but the last time they took on the Tigers was memorable for another reason.
The St. Louis Cardinals last played the Detroit Tigers in 2018 in a three-game interleague series played in Comerica Park, Michigan. It was a tightly fought series which the Cardinals, unfortunately, lost 2-1 overall following two walk-off losses in games one and two, then a memorable event in game three!
The Cards played well in game one of the series, taking a 3-3 tie into the bottom of the ninth following two Marcell Ozuna homers and a good six-inning start from Austin Gomber. Jordan Hicks was called to the mound in the bottom of the eighth and blasted through the side throwing only eight pitches to get through the lineup. Hicks was back out for the ninth, and after striking out Dawel Lugo and allowing a single to Victor Reyes, Jeimer Candelario was next up. On the first pitch, he took Hicks yard to deep left field and walked it off for the Tigers. Onto game two.
Game two started slowly for the Redbirds as they found themselves three runs down in the eighth inning. A Paul DeJong solo homer in the top of the eight and a game-tying Ozuna home run in the ninth looked like the Cards have salvaged extra innings. Bud Norris came into the game in the bottom of the ninth for the hold.
After an error, walk, bunt, and an intentional walk, the bases were loaded with one out and Victor Martinez at the plate. Norris threw a wild pitch which allowed Victor Reyes to score from third and the Tigers walked it off for the second game in a row.
Finally, in game three, John Gant threw six innings, allowing just two hits and no earned runs and it was tied at zero going into the top of the seventh.
Then the magic happened and flashbacks to a 2011 miracle crossed the minds of all St. Louis Cardinals fans. A squirrel was seen bounding between second and third base causing a delay to proceedings. After some gentle prompting by grounds staff, the squirrel headed to foul territory and eventually escaped into right field. Play resumed, and the Cardinals’ love of local critters was revived.
After a leadoff strikeout from Matt Adams, Ozuna singled, PaulyD singled, Kolten Wong singled scoring Ozuna and that was just the start. Yairo Munoz then made it to first on an error that scored DeJong and the Cards were 2-0 up.
Greg Garcia was intentionally walked and a Carson Kelly single then scored KoWo. Matt Carpenter hit a sac fly to deep center field which scored Munoz and Jose Martinez hit the final single of the inning scoring Garcia. This lead the Cardinals to a 5-0 lead in the seventh, which they didn’t relinquish for the remainder of the game!
The first Rally Squirrel visited the Cardinals in the 2011 NLDS against the Phillies. While this game was significantly less important than that game, it gave the Cards a much needed and deserved win in the series. This win gave them life in the final stretch while they were fighting for a wildcard berth. This also came without a manager wishing death on the furry critter much like Charlie Manuel did in 2011.
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Nearly 23 months later, the Cardinals will be taking on the Detroit Tigers for the first time since the infamous return of the Rally Squirrel. After more offensive struggles in 2020, lets hope a rally squirrel isn’t required to get some runs in either of these games!