The St. Louis Cardinals historic season ends in heartbreak

Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after catching a line drive out by Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers to end in the first inning during the National League Wild Card Game at Dodger Stadium on October 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Adam Wainwright #50 of the St. Louis Cardinals reacts after catching a line drive out by Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers to end in the first inning during the National League Wild Card Game at Dodger Stadium on October 06, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The same issues that plagued the St. Louis Cardinals during the regular season came back to haunt them in the NL Wild Card game.

The St. Louis Cardinals had an epic September to remember we all hoped we carry over deep into October. One swing off Dodgers outfielder Chris Taylor’s bat sealed the end to a season that gives this team a lot to build on for 2022.

The Cardinals lost in the ninth inning to the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1. Let’s discuss the Good, Bad, and Ugly of it all.

The Good

Tommy Edman had a wonderful game for the Cardinals. Edman led off the game with a single to right field off of Max Scherzer. He then stole second base and ultimately scored thanks to a wild pitch from Scherzer. Great way to start the game.

Unfortunately, that was the only run the Cardinals were able to muster.

Adam Wainwright pitched well for the Cardinals going 5.1 innings, giving up four hits, two walks, and a homer to Justin Turner.

Waino also had this defensive gem:

Luis Garcia pitched 1.2 innings, walking one and giving up a hit. Giovanny Gallegos looked great as he pitched the eighth inning, striking out two.

The Bad

The good that came from September was that you could see the team put it together and consistently get hits, move runners around and ultimately score. They finally clicked and did all the things we knew they could with the bat and their speed. You had to hope that this, too, would continue deep into October.

The Cardinals’ most glaring statistic of Wednesday’s game is they were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position. The team had so many opportunities to move runners around to score. They just failed to get it done.

While Paul Goldschmidt got one hit and walked twice, he was unable to score. After such an amazing run in September, Goldschmidt just looked frustrated at the plate

Tyler O’Neill had one walk but struck out three times, leaving six runners on base. After earning NL Player of the Month honors in September, you just knew he was primed to have a big game. He looked nervous and lost at the plate. With this playoff game under his belt, O’Neill has some things to work on. It does not in any way diminish the season he had for the Cardinals. He became a star in this organization. That star will only rise.

Nolan Arenado had a terrible game going 0 for 4, leaving five runners on base. After all the hope we had for him being the missing piece to a playoff run, it’s disappointing to see he couldn’t deliver. You know Arenado will be angry that he wasn’t able to contribute on the playoff stage. This was why he wanted to be in St. Louis. Arenado said he would not be opting out at the end of the season as he had more he wants to accomplish. This game is only going to fuel his fire to want to win more, contribute and be the big-time player we wanted.

The Ugly

T.J. McFarland was able to get two outs in the ninth, but he walked Cody Bellinger. Instead of letting McFarland finish off the inning, Manager Mike Shildt brought in Alex Reyes. Bellinger had stolen second base with Chris Taylor up to bat.

It only took one pitch, and a magical ride was over.

Alex Reyes gave up a two-run homer to Chris Taylor.

How incredibly heartbreaking. Seriously.

Reyes pitched great all season, earning 29 saves as the team’s closer. He even earned an All-Star bid for his amazing run. And then, Reyes began to falter. He ultimately lost the closer role in early September after two Sundays in a row of giving up walk-off home runs.

Instead of shutting him down, Shildt gave Reyes opportunities to shine in other opportunities. Pitching an inning or two every couple of days. He looked pretty good in this role.

With McFarland one out away from getting out of the inning and options such as Jack Flaherty or Dakota Hudson still available in the bullpen, it’s kind of head-scratching to consider why Shildt would put Reyes in this situation.

During his first rough patch, I’d wondered if Reyes was burned out after putting in so much work after having very little work in the recent seasons. Now you have to really believe he is burned out. He may even benefit from visiting with a sport psychologist or even Rick Ankiel occasionally. Falling victim to something like this happening in your career can not be good.

There had been a discussion of moving him into the role of a starter next season. Can he be trusted to be a starter? Can he go that many innings in a role without getting blown out? It will be curious to see what the team’s plan will be for Reyes in the offseason. He is an amazing talent with a lot of drive. He had a terrible, no-good, awful end to his season. I’m not sure what Reyes’ role with the team will be going forward, though.

In Conclusion

I’m so happy the Cardinals got to the NL Wild Card game. When the team was dealing with injuries and frustrations, fans didn’t think this would be possible. But they came together and were the team we knew they could be at the right time. September. It was a historic run by the team.

Hopefully, this will give the Cardinals so much to build on for a better run in 2022.

Next. Harrison Bader pens heartfelt letter to St. Louis Cardinals fans. dark

Thanks for the unreal season, Cardinals! Until next year…