MLB wild-card race: 2011 Cardinals supply hope to groups nonetheless outdoors October’s playoff image

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The Yankees and Reds have 12 video games left within the common season. The Phillies, A’s, Padres and Mariners have 13 every.

The Mets have … you realize what? It doesn’t matter. It is a column about hope and needing minor miracles to succeed in October and the Mets are 4 video games beneath .500 with a dozen video games remaining of their 162-game schedule. The pizza rat has taken that playoff slice into the flooded subway, people.  

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However for the opposite six, shades of hope do exist. They’re out of the playoff image in the intervening time, however shut sufficient that they haven’t made early October trip plans simply but. 

A decade in the past, the eventual World Collection winners had been in a really acquainted need-a-minor-baseball-miracle state of affairs — 150 video games into within the 2011 season, the Cardinals had been 3 1/2 video games behind the Braves within the race for the Nationwide League’s wild-card race. 

“You regarded across the clubhouse and we weren’t taking part in as much as our potential, no matter meaning,” David Freese informed a gaggle of reporters Saturday at a reunion for the 2011 World Collection-winning Cardinals. “A gaggle like we had will get scorching, although, something can occur.” 

Right here’s the place the 2021 contenders stand:

Yankees: 1 1/2 out of second AL wild-card
Reds: 3 out of second NL wild-card
Phillies: 2 out of NL East lead, 3 1/2 out of second NL wild-card
A’s: 2 out of second AL wild-card
Padres: 3 1/2 out of second NL wild-card
Mariners: 4 out of second AL wild-card

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The largest distinction between the 2011 Cardinals and any of these groups is that this: By this level within the 2011 season, the Cardinals had been already in an all-out dash to the end line. After a loss on Aug. 24, St. Louis was simply 67-63 and 10 1/2 video games behind the Braves within the chase for what was, on the time, the lone wild-card spot. 

“For us, it was so irritating as a result of we knew we had been good, however we simply weren’t taking part in good,” stated Nick Punto, who had his career-best 125 OPS+ as a reserve for that 2011 Cardinals squad. “We had been taking part in so poorly for your entire season, and the final six weeks, actually the final 5 weeks, we took off. We had been a mean baseball staff, round .500, and folks had been like, ‘Why are they common when they need to be higher than that?’” 

From Aug. 24 to Recreation 150 (Sept. 16), the Cardinals went 15-5. In that very same span, the Braves went 8-12. Issues modified dramatically. 

“It was simply each day,” stated Jon Jay, one other member of the 2011 Cardinals squad. “Hey, let’s preserve our heads down and win video games. Win video games.” 

Listed below are the “previous 20 video games” information for our six 2021 groups: 

Yankees: 7-13
Reds: 7-13
Phillies: 12-8
A’s: 11-9
Padres: 8-12
Mariners: 10-10

Not a dash to be discovered, eh? The Phillies and A’s have discovered a pleasant race-walking tempo and the Mariners appear to have mastered the walk-and-chew gum factor, however the Yankees, Reds and Padres are going all Ruben Rivera-on-the-basepaths on their solution to the 2021 end line. Oh, it’s a scene. 

The staff that really has adopted the 2011 Cardinals’ instance, after all, is the 2021 Cardinals. They’re 13-7 of their previous 20 and at the moment driving an eight-game profitable streak that’s catapulted them from 3.5 again to three up within the race for that second NL wild-card spot. 

And just like the 2011 membership, the 2021 membership’s scorching streak has coincided properly with a staff forward of them falling aside. It was Atlanta a decade in the past; it’s San Diego and Cincinnati this time round. The Padres have gotten many of the “they’re collapsing!” headlines, however at the very least they’ve misplaced to good groups, such because the Dodgers and Giants. The Reds are 3-6 in September in opposition to groups which might be beneath .500 for the season and have misplaced eight consecutive collection.

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The Braves wound up going 9-18 in September 2011, and the Cardinals had an 18-8 report that month. St. Louis caught Atlanta in Recreation 161, and when the Braves misplaced in 13 innings within the regular-season finale and the Cardinals shut out the Astros. St. Louis superior.

“The entire 12 months, as much as that time, at the very least for me, it was uneven,” Lance Berkman stated. “I’m wanting across the room and there’s all this expertise; I imply, we’ve obtained Albert Pujols, perhaps the best hitter within the historical past of the sport, we’ve obtained Matt Holliday, unbelievable hitter hitting fifth. We’ve obtained Chris Carpenter and (Kyle) Lohse and guys like that anchoring the rotation and an excellent bullpen. It was like, ‘Why aren’t we profitable extra video games?’ All of it got here collectively on the proper time, and when it clicked, I believe everyone knew it clicked. It was like, ‘OK, that is the staff we thought we had in spring coaching, and right here we go.’”

And away they went.

“We knew that, if we snuck in, with the flexibility we had, we had an opportunity,” Carpenter stated. “And we had been in a position to sneak in.” 

Keep in mind, with just one wild-card spot, there was no win-or-go-home wild-card sport; the Cardinals went immediately into the NLDS and misplaced Recreation 1, 11-6, to the 102-win Phillies. Who is aware of how issues might need been completely different if it was a one-game “collection.”

They beat the Phillies within the best-of-five, when Carpenter outdueled Roy Halladay in a 1-0 Recreation 5 victory. The Cardinals beat the Brewers in six within the NLCS, then used all seven video games to beat the Rangers within the World Collection. 

Oh, and you’ll, I promise, hear quite a lot of reminiscing about Game 6 of that Collection subsequent month. 


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