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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

The most damaging loss of the Cardinals season?

The St. Louis Cardinals’ Saturday night loss to the Washington Nationals in extra innings was disappointing. After all, it was the team’s 12th defeat in 18 games that went beyond nine innings this season.

Further, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their game against Colorado, their fourth victory in a row. That pulled them to within two games of St. Louis for the second National League wild card with four games remaining.

Still, the Cardinals’ Saturday loss may not have been their most damaging defeat this season.

That could turn out to have been in Los Angeles two weeks earlier, back on September 15, in the third of a four-game series. Jason Motte took over in the ninth, trying to protect a 3-2 lead for Jaime Garcia, and retired his first two batters faced. Three straight hits later, Motte walked off the Dodger Stadium mound with a blown save and loss. LA moved into a brief tie with St. Louis for the second wild card.

Despite the Cardinals taking the final game of the series the next day, additional damage had already been done. Los Angeles had clinched the season series between the two clubs, finishing with six wins in 11 tries.

Though no one appreciated its added importance at the time, they may very soon. Because of that edge, if the Cardinals and Dodgers tie for the second wild card, Los Angeles would host a one-game tiebreaker against St. Louis on Thursday.

Instead, had St. Louis been able to secure one final out in that September 15 contest, they would be able to remain home for a tie-breaker game if needed following the conclusion of their regular season schedule Wednesday night versus Cincinnati.

Further, the winner of Thursday’s prospective tie-breaker game would then have to take a red-eye flight from Los Angeles to be in Atlanta (or possibly Washington) for Friday’s wild card play-in – a second straight sudden death game. Of course, that is better than the fate of Thursday’s and Friday’s losers, slated to head home.

So, the Cardinals could be required to fly from St. Louis to Los Angeles to Atlanta and back to St. Louis to play games on consecutive days in what would surely be the most grueling travel stretch of the season.

The second wild card race will not be settled on Sunday, leaving the final outcome to be determined as both contending clubs play division winners in their final series. The Cardinals face the NL Central-winning Reds and the Dodgers taking on the NL West-best Giants.

Both clubs have a chance to win the spot outright, but if they tie, it will be an especially rough week for at least one of them. Based on their respective results in the final four games, it will end like this.

Final 4 games Record Record Result
Cardinals 4-0 Dodgers any Cards take wild card
Cardinals 3-1 Dodgers any Cards take wild card
Cardinals 2-2 Dodgers 4-0 Wild card tie
Dodgers any other Cards take wild card
Cardinals 1-3 Dodgers 4-0 Dodgers take wild card
Dodgers 3-1 Wild card tie
Dodgers any other Cards take wild card
Cardinals 0-4 Dodgers 4-0, 3-1 Dodgers take wild card
Dodgers 2-2 Wild card tie
Dodgers 1-3, 0-4 Cards take wild card

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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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4 Responses to “The most damaging loss of the Cardinals season?”

  1. JumboShrimp says:

    Another memorable day for September sensation Pete Kozma, making a strong bid for making the team during 2013 as well as propelling us forward in 2012. Super job Pete!!

    Beltran has been slumping. Maybe Carlos slurped a little Geritol this morning, because he contributed massively, outscoring the Big Government Gnats just by himself.

    Merely three games left and we hold a two game lead over the overpriced Dodgers. Bring it on home Pete and Carlos!

    • Nutlaw says:

      So I know that you’re just harping on Kozma to bait everyone, but yeah, he’s playing very well. Ride the kid until he crashes!

      • blingboy says:

        I wonder how the Furcal injury/meltdown situation would have been handled if TLR were still the manager. My guess is DD at short and Skip at 2B. No Kozma, no Jackson.

      • JumboShrimp says:

        I am saying normal things about Kozma, much like Bernie at the P-D. It would take a jaundiced perspective to pooh-pooh the wonderful lift Pete has given this team.
        We watched SS Cesar Izturis rack up a horrid 630 OPS for the Cards during 2008. Brendan Ryan has been unspeakable for Seattle, 570 last I knew. Kozma drove in more 70+ RBIs at AA and 63 this year in leading Memphis. By driving in runs, Pete is now only doing for the Cards what he has already displayed in the minors. Going forward, I doubt Kozma will ever hit as weakly as Cesar and Brendan.

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