7 games left to play, and the Cardinals were in the heat of a pennant race. One that, just a month earlier, looked like not a race at all. It looked like all of the playoff spots were secured, nothing up for grabs, no drama to be had.
But here they were, 7 games left, and plenty of drama.
The Cardinals schedule was a favorable one, sure they were about to face their hated divisional foes, and yeah, they were going to finish on the road, but that last 3 game set would be against a terrible team, and the one they were facing that night also found themselves far out of the race. This team should be a pushover. The Cardinals, looking to outpace other teams, should have rolled over their opponents who were just looking to play out the season.
And it looked like it would come true. The Cardinals took a lead going into the 9th inning. Soon it would be 6 games left, and soon the Cardinals would be one victory closer to achieving their goals.
But that’s when disaster struck. By the time the onslaught finished, the Cardinals had given up 6 runs in the top of the 9th, and went on to lose by an 8-6 score.
I know what you are saying now. you are correcting my errors. The Cardinals gave up 7 runs in the top of the 9th, and they wound up losing 8-4.
You are right about tonight, but I’m not talking about tonight.
3 walks and a reached on error to start the inning, and a locked up game became in doubt. Jose Reyes then singled off of the newly implanted lefty for 2RBIs. Another pitching change failed to help. Tejada hit a double for 2 more tying the game. After finally getting 2 outs, the nail in the coffin. Another single to bring in a pair. The Cardinals would go down that night. A game 3 outs from clear victory had slipped away, and at the worst possible time.
Their playoff seeking counterparts were off that day, but the situation would only get worse. The next day, those counterparts would win, while the damned Cubs would topple the Cardinals and look to ruin their October plans.
The Cardinals had 5 games remaining, and were a insurmountable 3 games behind the Braves. It was 2011, and on September 23rd, the team was pronounced dead, and not for the 1st time.
The Cardinals won 4 out of their remaining 5 games. The Braves lost all 5, and the Cardinals squeaked into the playoffs against all logic. I don’t really remember what they did in the playoffs that year, but for this story it’s no matter. They did defy that awful 9th inning. They did overcome.
But on September 22nd, 2011 – as the schedule turned from 7 games remaining down to 6 – I sat on my couch and cursed the blow up. I was sure the season was over this time, once and for all.