Adam Wainwright fanned eight in his six innings in the Cardinals 10-4 win over the Pirates for the sweep.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Coming down to the last game of this season, the St. Louis Cardinals still one game out of a National League Wild Card berth. They needed to win their last game; but, were reliant upon the Los Angeles Dodgers winning over the San Francisco Giants who has held the #2 NL Wild Card spot the last week of play. The Dodgers had already clinched the NL West Division title to put them into postseason play. As the two games were being played at the same time yesterday afternoon, the Cardinals quickly saw their Wild Card hopes dashed. The Giants, who had already won the first two games over the Dodgers, took an early 4-0 lead. The Giants only gave up one run in the 7-1 win to sweep the Dodgers. The Los Angeles team supposedly playing to secure postseason home field advantage, lost five of their last six games.
Conspiracy theory? Possibly. The Dodgers did have the upper hand this season over the Cardinals even before entering postseason play. The Cardinals had won over the Dodgers, 4-2, NLCS in 2013; and, 3-1, in the NLDS in 2014. Was this a bit of payback by the Dodgers? With the Cardinals strong play in their last four games this season making a charge, it could have been. But, with the Dodgers losing record coming down to the season's 162 game; I feel, it will be another team's duty now to send them on their off-season vacation prior to the World Series.
Besides, the NL Chicago Cubs have been predicted to take it all since the first month of this season, since their last title in 1908. The Giants, well, even years seem to be their good luck charm as World Series champs. The American League Texas Rangers are looking for their first World Series title, losing to the Cardinals in seven games in 2011. And, the AL Boston Red Sox would like nothing better than to hand "Big Papi" a World Series ring as he is retiring after postseason. So, there are a lot of variables for four teams. The Giants will face the New York Mets in the NL Wild Card game Wednesday, October 5. The Wild Card winner will go on to face the Cubs, NLDS, at Wrigley Field. The Dodgers will face the Washington Nationals, NLDS at Nationals Park. Both games scheduled for Friday, October 7.
The Cardinals, with a sweep over the Pirates, began their off-season vacations and will watch from afar as postseason progresses. Personally, I'm happy with the Cardinals not advancing; even though, disappointed at the same time. I feel the Cardinals players will take time to reflect on what they could have done differently, games that were lost that could have been won, etc. Last season they closed with 100 wins. That proved to be no guarantee to postseason success as they lost 1-3 to the Cubs in the NLDS. This season, closing 86-76, gives them a great deal of 'food for thought' looking to 2017. Not only by the players; but, by the Cardinals organization as a whole. I am very proud of my Cardinals team. I feel as they all look to 2017, with even stronger offense, work on fielding; and, re-evaluation of the rotation, bullpen and adding key pitchers, the Cubs will not be a run-away train again in the National League Central Division.
FINAL SEASON GOOD-BYE TO LF MATT HOLLIDAY
Probably the most emotional portion of the Pirates-Cardinals series was the announcement made this past Friday. The Cardinals would not exercise their option ($17 MM) in 2017 for the 36 year old LF Matt Holliday, who is in this eighth season with St. Louis. He had been on the DL since August 11 due to (HBP) sustaining a fractured thumb. The fracture required surgery, pin inserted, to repair. Even with swelling of his thumb during live batting practice which delayed his mid-September return, he asked to be activated to be able to be with the team one last series. To wear the "Birds on the Bat" once last time and say good-bye to Cardinals Nation. In game one, as pinch hitter, he slugged out his 20 season home run and Cardinals 17 PH HR. In the second game, pinch hitting, he connects for a RBI single. He had never had a pinch hitting RBI in his career. In two days and two games, he recorded two. In yesterday's game, with the Cardinals putting up six runs in the seventh for their 10-4 lead, there was not an opening for Holliday to come in as PH. In the ninth, Holliday made his way to the left field to say his final good-bye this season to ALL.
Reportedly, Holliday has not closed the door completely on an offer by the Cardinals organization. He feels he has two good years left to play - whether that is with St. Louis; or, with an American League team as a designated hitter. In my opinion, Holliday will opted for the latter; and, I feel, there will be an AL team to make such an offer.
And, Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina weigh in on Holliday's departure.
Even though the Cardinals begin their off-season earlier than they would have liked, the season had many highlights. And, the first shown is very fitting, Randal Grichuk's incredible catch against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Personally, just gives me some peace of mind about our shortened season ... and, a smile of just how great the Cardinals have been in 2016.
I expect the off-season to be a busy one for the Cardinals organization. Free agency, qualifying offers, trades, all part of the business of baseball. Will be interesting to see what moves the Cardinals will now make. Once again, I believe, pitchers are going to be top priority on their list. Do I like already being in off-season mode? No, not really. I will have to rely upon "other" sporting events to fill my time. However, will keep a watchful eye on 'what the Cardinals are up to'.
Yesterday's game, just topped off our Cardinals season. Matt Carpenter's three-run homer and our Cardinals six run seventh to seal the deal. Even though the Giants clinched the #2 spot for the Wild Card this season, our Cardinals did not give up.
TO THE CARDINALS ~ Very proud of you all and have a great off-season. Come back stronger than ever. We'll see most of you at Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter FL, next February for the 2017 Spring training camp.