The Cardinals punched their ticket to the post-season by completing a four game sweep of the Cubs Sunday afternoon at Wrigley Field with a 3-2 victory. The win pushes the Cubs seven games back of the division lead, ending their already dwindling chances of winning the division. Tyler Webb (2-1) earned the victory for the Cardinals, who rallied from down 2-1 in the 8th inning, while Yu Darvish (6-8) took the loss for the Cubs.
The Cardinals sent Miles Mikolas to the hill to lock horns with Darvish. The rejuvenated Cubs righty has been dominant of late, running up a 2.70 ERA, 2.95 FIP, and an eye-popping 15.14 K-to-BB since July 12th. His BB% in the second half ranks third in all of baseball, while Mikolas ranks 8th. In short, it promised to be a quicker pace than yesterday’s four hour and twenty four minute affair except for the threat of rain.
After Darvish retired the side in order in the top of the first, Mikolas allowed a one-out single to Nicholas Castellanos and hit Kris Bryant in the shoulder with a two-seamer. Kyle Schwarber lofted a routine flyball to centerfield, which Harrison Bader and Marcell Ozuna misplayed into a very long, high launch angle single to load the bases. The following hitter, Ben Zobrist, swung through Mikolas’ 1-1 slider, but it escaped Yadier Molina, allowing Castellanos to rumble home for a 1-0 Cubs advantage. Zobrist struck out one pitch later, and Victor Caratini popped out to Matt Carpenter at third to limit the damage.
Darvish and Mikolas exchanged zeroes in the second, with Mikolas aided by a nifty double play turned by Molina, who pounced on a Darvish bunt to end the inning.
Saturday’s hero, Paul DeJong, smashed Darvish’s second pitch in the top of the third for a game-tying homerun that landed somewhere near Grand Rapids, Michigan:
DeJong has left the ballpark... literally! pic.twitter.com/spOFN6myY6— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 22, 2019
It was DeJong’s 29th homerun of the season, and the lone Cardinals hit through the first three innings.
Anthony Rizzo began the bottom of the third with a single. Mikolas worked around it, striking out Castellanos and getting a double play ball from Bryant. On the play, Bryant slipped- possibly on a damp field- and left the game, with Ian Happ taking his place at third base. X-rays would later reveal a sprain for Bryant. Darvish returned the double play favor in the top of the fourth, erasing Paul Goldschmidt’s one out single with a grounder from Marcell Ozuna and a twin killing started by shortstop Nico Hoerner.
Mikolas walked Schwarber to lead off the bottom of the fourth, but wiped him out with a double play ball rolled by Zobrist. Caratini sneaked a single past DeJong at short before Jason Heyward flew out to Bader, ending the inning. In the fifth, Darvish and Mikolas each retired the side in order. Through five innings, it was all knotted up at 1-1, a harbinger of another electrifying ending in a series full of them.
Darvish continued his mastery with another scoreless inning in the sixth, raising his total to 10 strikeouts and just two hits (one landing in Michigan) allowed in six innings. Castellanos severed the tie to lead off the bottom of the sixth when he belted the eighth pitch of the at-bat from Mikolas for a solo homerun, putting the Cubs on top 2-1. Afterwards, Mikolas retired the next three Cubs. At that point, the light rain picked up.
Tommy Edman opened the seventh by slapping an offering at his shoelaces for a single into leftfield. Darvish worked around it, striking out Paul Goldschmidt and getting yet another double play ball, this time with Ozuna at the plate. Mikolas kept up his end of the bargain in the pitching duel, retiring the Cubs in order in the bottom of the seventh to hold the game at 2-1. All the while, the rain continued.
Matt Carpenter knocked a one-out single in the Cardinal eighth, but Darvish struck out DeJong and got an inning-ending groundball from pinch hitter Matt Wieters to end the threat. Skipper Mike Shildt sent Mikolas back out for the bottom half of the inning. He allowed a one out single to Rizzo, who was relieved by pinch runner Javier Baez. Mikolas retired Castellanos on a line drive to Ozuna before allowing a single up the middle to Happ. At that point, Shildt brought in Tyler Webb to face the lefty Schwarber with two outs. In the middle of the at-bat, Happ took off for a stolen base attempt, but the Cardinals pitched out. Molina’s throw beat Happ by so much that he got into a rundown, hoping it would allow Baez to score. In the end, Baez remained at third, Happ returned to first, and the Cardinals didn’t get the easy out on Happ. It didn’t matter, though, as Webb got a line drive out from Schwarber to end the inning.
The stage was set for another tense ninth inning, this time against Darvish coming back for the ninth to face pinch hitter Jose Martinez. Everyone’s favorite little cup of coffee sparked the rally with a triple off the glove of centerfielder Albert Almora, and Tyler O’Neill pinch ran for him.
More 9th inning magic! pic.twitter.com/lx7vClxGWT— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 22, 2019
Dexter Fowler followed by lofting a flyball to left just deep enough to score O’Neill, tying the game at 2-2. Tommy Edman singled just past the glove of Zobrist at second base to put another runner on, and stole second with just one out and Goldschmidt at the plate. All the while, Cubs skipper Joe Maddon stuck with Darvish. Goldschmidt punished the mistake with a line drive down the line for a double, bringing home Edman for a 3-2 lead. Maddon finally relieved Darvish (8.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 12 K) with Pedro Strop. Ozuna walked, but Strop fanned Molina and Yairo Munoz to hold the Cardinals lead to 3-2.
Shildt tabbed Andrew Miller for the ninth. Miller got a popout from Zobrist to lead off the inning and struck out pinch hitter Wilson Contreras. Jason Heyward made it interesting with a flare single, bringing up Hoerner. The threat died with a flyout to end the game.
The 3 Floyds Robert the Bruce Player of the Game is Miles Mikolas for his duel with Darvish, scattering eight hits across 7.2 innings while fanning four, walking one, and allowing two runs (one earned). Runner up is Jose Martinez for his clutch triple to lead off the ninth inning.
The Cardinals begin the final week of their season at 8:40 pm CST Monday night on the road against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Adam Wainwright (13-9, 3.83 ERA, 4.10 FIP) takes the hill for the Cardinals opposed by D-backs southpaw Alex Young (7-4, 3.27 ERA, 4.49 FIP).
As for now, this is obligatory:
- Scoring based on the author’s beverage:
-Parish Bloom: 1-1, Tie
-Schlafly Oktoberfest: 0-0
-No beer: Cubs, 1-0
-3 Floyds Robert the Bruce: 2-0
-Hardywood Peach Ginger Berliner Weisse: 0-0
- And the wife’s beverage choice:
-No beer: 2-1, Cardinals
-Schlafly Oktoberfest: Cardinals, 1-1
-Hardywood Peach Ginger Berliner Weisse: 0-0
- I am 100% convinced that Kyle Schwarber either is the grown up version of the fat bully kid from Home Alone or at least related to him.
- Kolten Wong has been reevaluated and has a grade 2 tear of the hamstring. He’ll miss the Arizona series- possibly even skipping the trip- to get healthy for the end of the season.
- Per Danny Mac, the last time the Cardinals pulled off a four game sweep at Wrigley was 1921. In fact, it’s the only time before today that the Cardinals have done so.
- Pitching Ninja posted at least five gifs of Darvish on Twitter today, if that gives you any inkling as to how filthy he was.
- This was the final regular season game for Wrigley Field organist Gary Pressy, who is retiring at the end of the season. As a fan with a deep appreciation for organ music, raised on the stylings of Ernie Hays, here’s a toast to Mr. Pressy and his 32 years of service.