Now that’s the way for the St. Louis Cardinals to finish the regular season: a 4-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs for a perfect 6-0 home stand, a final record of 97-65 for the best record in the National League, tied with the Boston Red Sox for top record in MLB.
Yes, the prize for having that best NL record (in addition to home field advantage throughout the playoffs) will now be a very familiar foe, pending the results of the wild card game at PNC Park on Tuesday night. But we have plenty of time to wonder about that — game one isn’t until Thursday at Busch Stadium.
For now, let’s appreciate what happened today.
And appreciating Jake Westbrook was what the first inning was about, while recognizing Yadier Molina with a standing ovation was what happened right before the first pitch of the game — Tony Cruz actually caught today.
Westbrook did fine, allowing a double to Anthony Rizzo but retiring the other three batters for his only inning of work. Joe Kelly came in next, allowing just three hits and striking out five in 5 1/3 innings. He even had the chance to show off his prowess at the plate, doubling in the third inning and scoring the first Cards run when Jon Jay singled. It was his ninth hit in the past seven days.
The fourth inning brought two more Cardinals runs. No surprise that a Matt was involved, with Adams hitting a one-out double and then scoring on Daniel Descalso’s double. Next up: Shane Robinson, playing left field in place of Matt Holliday, who singled to score Descalso.
The final run scored in the eighth, with Tony Cruz doubling in Jay.
Pitching-wise, Randy Choate relieved Kelly in the seventh — throwing one pitch for a double play to get out of the inning — while Carlos Martinez pitched a perfect eighth. (Such a good weapon to have!) Kevin Siegrist finished it off in the ninth, giving up a two-out single before ending it.
Kelly was the winning pitcher, and it was his 10th of the season. He was one of four Cards starters with double-digits wins — Adam Wainwright finished with 19, while Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller each had 15. Kelly finished with a 2.69 ERA, the lowest among the starters.
One thing that unfortunately did not happen on offense today: a hit for Matt Carpenter. He finished with 199, however, which is best in the majors. He also led MLB in doubles with 55 and blew away everyone in MLB in runs scored with 126. In second place: Mike Trout with 109, followed by Shin-Soo Choo with 107. And, with all the success this season, he wasn’t really bothered by not reaching the milestone:
“The way I look at it is, after today, the St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in the National League — and for me, that is the most important thing,” Carpenter said. “Obviously, from an individual standpoint, 200 hits is a cool thing — and, obviously, I would have liked to get that. But more importantly, we won a big game today. We have the best record in the National League, and now the fun begins.”
Yep, now comes October — with all its thrills, ramped-up emotions and, of course, the ultimate payoff for one of these playoff teams. And now a few days of anticipation until we get started …
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates.