The Cardinals had a season with frustrating lows and exhilarating highs. It certainly was not a season without hope. In an almost painful way, this team seemed to give fans glimmers of hope just before it was lost for good. Until the final week of the season, a few good stretches kept the playoff possibility alive until the offense finally stalled and the pitching just couldn't set the bar high enough. I thought it would be fun, or at least interesting, to go back through the 2017 season to see where this team was on the 6th of every month.
April 6 (1-2)
After an exciting season opener on Sunday Night Baseball against the Cubs, where Randal Grichuk won the game on a walk-off hit, the Cardinals lost the first series of the season to Chicago. Success was, of course, still achievable—the Cubs were the reigning champions after all. And it was still the beginning of the season—a time when every team still believes they have a chance.
May 6 (15-14)
At this point, the Cardinals had just taken the first two games in a series against the Braves and Mike Leake had improved to 4-1 with a 1.79 ERA. Although still early in the year, Leake’s success was coming to a close and he would be traded a few months later. Aledmys Diaz had not yet been relegated to AAA and after moving above .500, the Cardinals were tied for 2nd place in the Central, only .5 games behind the Cubs. They were right where they needed and wanted to be.
June 6 (26-30)
The rest of May and the first week of June did not go well. The Cardinals had a rough trip to the West coast and come June 6th were in the midst of being swept by the Reds on their way to losing seven games in a row. After winning eight of nine in early May, this disappointing stretch highlighted the inconsistency of this team. On the 6th, Adam Wainwright spotted the Reds nine runs in just 3.2 innings on the way to a 13-1 loss. Paul Dejong had been called up, but was not yet accustomed to major league pitching, batting just .265 and striking out eleven times in his first ten games.
July 6 (41-44)
The team would play the next 29 games at a game above .500—not exactly where they wanted to be, but they remained in contention. At this point, five days before the all-star break, the Cardinals were a game behind the Cubs, but 5.5 games behind the Brewers for first place. In this game, Bowman recorded his 15th hold of the season and was well on his way to the 75 appearances he would make by the end of the year—surprisingly, this was not enough to lead the MLB, but it was close.
August 6 (55-56)
When the dog days of summer hit St. Louis this year, frustration was boiling over. Especially, as the trade deadline came and went without a significant move. The front office acquired Tyler O’Neil from the Mariners, but the major league roster was not improved. However, the team was about to real off eight wins in a row, catapulting them back into contention for a playoff spot. On this date, Jose Martinez, who would be named the NL Rookie of the Month for September, hit his first career grand slam.
September 6 (72-67)
On September 6th, the Cardinals were four games out of the NL Central lead, but only two games behind the Colorado Rockies for the second wild card spot. They were right in the thick of a heated playoff race with practically every reason to believe the season would come down to the final days. This day, one month ago, feels like a year ago because the Cardinals would go on to suffer numerous one run losses over the season’s final month.
October 6 (83-79)
And here we are today. A couple days in to the baseball postseason, discussing what happened and what to do for next year. There is no shortage of options, either. Should the Cardinals extend a qualifying offer to Lance Lynn? Could the Cardinals make a trade with the Miami Marlins? What should the outfield look like next year? Who will be at third base? Or just the simple question, what direction should the Cardinals take going forward?
These are questions we’ll get answers to, but it won’t be in the immediate future. Until then, it’s anybody’s guess.