By Taylor Burlingame, KCOU Sports
It’s a devastating time to be a St. Louis Cardinals fan.
The team free-fell out of contention after holding as much as a 1.5 game lead over eventual NL
After winning a close game against the Chicago Cubs Saturday, the only thing Cardinals’ fans could focus on that night was the contest between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants.
Sitting two games back of the second NL Wild Card Spot headed into, the odds weren’t in St. Louis’ favor. Nonetheless, Cardinals fans ALWAYS have hope that their team could sneak into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be this season. The Dodgers defeated the Giants 10-6, eliminating the Cardinals from postseason play.
Though it was one of the most important games of the season, the games leading up to it were just as, if not more important, and put the Cardinals in the position to perhaps sneak into a wild card spot in their series against the Cubs.
The main reason St. Louis didn’t make the playoffs: its performance in the month of September. It ended the last four weeks with 12-15 record. This was a result of many different components.
The Cardinals started off on a bad note, losing their first two games of September against the Cincinnati Reds. The series loss also broke the team’s 10-series win streak.
The next two weeks of September definitely saw St. Louis not play up to their capability. After series losses to Detroit, dropping one game to Pittsburgh, and losing 3 of 4 games against the Los Angeles Dodgers, things weren’t looking good for the Cardinals’ playoff hopes.
Things started looking up with a series win over the Atlanta Braves and a sweep over the San Francisco Giants; but it was until week four when postseason finally started to seem out of reach for the Cardinals.
St. Louis started its series against the Milwaukee Brewers with heads held high with amid a three-game winning streak, but that confidence didn’t last for long. The Cardinals were beaten in every aspect of the game in the series. The Brewers seemed to be one step ahead.
It was here where is where the St. Louis began to struggle.
Offensively, Cardinals batters struck out 27 times and only hitting 18 times, while the Brewers struck out 24 times, they put the ball in play 30 times. Defensively, the Cardinals had many unavoidable errors, and on the mound, as well as problems with the bullpen.
Cardinals pitchers came out with 18 walks, which is nine more than the Brewers. Despite pitching not being clean, defense in general wasn’t either. With five errors in the series and three of them being in one game, throwing and fielding errors were a main cause of the Cardinals losing all three games against the Brewers; 6-4, 12-4 and 2-1.
Headed into their final regular-season series of the year against the Chicago Cubs, the postseason odds looked better for the Cardinals, but nothing like they were in the month of August.
The Cardinals still struggled offensively and defensively. The offense was held to 24 strikeouts, 22 hits, while the team also struggled defensively and on the mound, allowing 10 walks and five errors.
The Cubs had around the same numbers, but were able to execute plays by getting people on base and finishing innings.
Consistently, putting the ball in play was something the St. Louis struggled with toward the end of the season. Once runners reached base, the Cardinals couldn’t advantage.
St. Louis also had a hard time finishing innings. Multiple times they were found dealing with bases loaded with two out situations, and could never seem to get that last out to end the inning.
The Cardinals need to start games strong in the first few innings rather than get behind and find themselves trying to play catch up in the last few outs.
After a frustrating series, the Cardinals fell to the Cubs Sunday, and were eliminated from post season play. St. Louis hopes to re-tool in the offseason and come back and better than ever next year, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store.