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Cardinals seasons going from second place to first

Looking back at when the St. Louis Cardinals improved from second place one year to first place the next.

Researcher Tom Orf generally focuses his attention to winter sports this time of year but recently sent me the following. It documents the four (and arguably five) cases since 1920 that the St. Louis Cardinals improved from second place one season to first the next.

Also included are the circumstances in the more successful year two, of course with playoff action to report each time.

After all, with the various bad news items this past week, we could use some optimism, right?

Years the St. Louis Cardinals went from second to first

1927-2nd 92-61 1.5 games behind Pittsburgh
1928-1st 95-59 2 ahead NY Giants
Lost in WS 4-0 to NYY

Gehrig 4 HR/Ruth 3HR

Ruth all 3 HR in game 4 including consecutive AB in 7th & 8th and back-to-back with Gehrig in the 7th

1941-2nd  97-56 2.5 GB Brooklyn
1942-1st 106-48 2 ahead Brooklyn

Won WS 4-1 NYY lost game 1-won next 4

Game 2 Yankees score 3 in top of the 8th to tie game 3-3 but in bottom of the 8th Slaughter 2-out double & then scores on Musial single, in the top of the 9th Yanks open with 2 singles but Slaughter throws led runner out at 3rd

Game 5 game tied 2-2 top of the 9th Kurowski 2-run HR, bottom of 9th Yanks 1st & 2nd nobody out C Walker Cooper picks Joe Gordon off 2B

1945-2nd 95-59 3 GB Cubs
1946-1st 98-58 2 ahead Brooklyn

Won WS 4-3 over Red Sox (won games 2-4-6-7)

Harry Breechen had complete game wins in games 2 & 4 3-0 & 4-1 & won game 7 in relief

Game 7 Red Sox score 2 in top of 8th to tie game 3-3, in bottom of 8th Slaughter scores from 1st on Harry Walker’s hit (see photo of the end of “Slaughter’s Mad Dash”) and in the bottom of the 9th Red Sox had 1st & 2nd no outs/1st & 3rd 1 out but Breechen got out of it including pop out to Musial (1B) with 1 out

1963-2nd 93-69 6 GB Dodgers
1964-1st 93-69 1 ahead Phillies and Reds
Won WS 4-3 over Yanks (won games 1-4-5-7)

Gibson complete game victories in games 5 & 7 on Oct 12th & 15th

Game 1 Yanks led 4-2 until Cards got 4 in bottom of the 6th keyed by Shannon’s 2-run HR

Game 3 Mantle walkoff HR

Game 4 Yanks up 3-0 until Boyer grand slam in bottom of 6th, Ron Taylor pitches last 4 innings only allows 1 walk

Game 5 McCarver 3-run HR in top of 10th, Gibson goes 10 innings

Game 7 Cards get 3 in the 4th (McCarver RBI & stole home) & 3 in the 5th (Brock HR and McCarver SF) for 6-0 lead, Mantle 3-run HR in 6th makes it 6-3, Boyer HR in 7th 7-3 & Yanks score 2 in 9th

(This one is a little iffy since they actually tied for 1st the first season)
2001-T-1st 93-69 lost tiebreaker to Astros lost NLDS to Arizona 3-2
2002-1st 97-65 13 ahead of Astros

Won NLDS 3-0 over Arizona

Fassero WP in games 2 & 3

Game 2 1-1 tie in top 9th Cairo singles in Renteria (1B then Matheny sac) & Isringhausen strikes out Spivey for last out in 1-2-3 9th

Game 3 Cards break 2-2 on Andy Benes squeeze (RBI) followed by Vina RBI single then add 2 in 8th on RBI by Cairo & Robinson

Lost NLCS 4-1 to Giants

Game 3 Cards get solo HR in 4th, 5th & 6th (Matheny/Edmonds/Marrero) for lead in 5-4 win Izzy walks Bonds in 4 batter 9th

Game 4 Giants score 2 in bottom of 8th for 4-2 lead-Edmonds 2-out RBI single 4-3 but with 1st &; 3rd Pujols & Drew K’d (Nen)

Game 5 Cards lead 1-0 but Bonds SF in bottom 8th ties it; Giants win series on Lofton RBI single in 9th

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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