Continuing our stroll back in recent Cardinals history from last Thursday, the 2005 St. Louis Cardinals followed up their 105-win-National-League-pennant-winning season by winning 100 games, the NL Central and making it to Game Six of the NLCS against the Houston Astros.
There were new faces: Mark Grudzielanek at second, David Eckstein at shortstop, Abraham Nunez at third, Mark Mulder on the mound. (Speaking of the latter, did you see he’s making a comeback attempt?)
It was the year the Yankees came to town, and Mariano Rivera and his bullpen pals had some fun. It also was the final year of Busch Stadium II.
And it was the year of a couple of very cool August walk-off wins.
First up was Aug. 7 against the Braves. The Cardinals were trailing 3-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. Singles by Nunez, So Taguchi and Hector Luna loaded the bases and, with two outs, David Eckstein stepped to the plate and … Well, the Braves analyst — it’s the Braves broadcast below — says “there’s a pretty good chance he’s not going to hit the ball over anyone’s head.” Oops, sorry, he does. Everyone’s head, for a game-winning grand slam. Remember? And Chip Caray (shockingly) got pretty excited about it. Check out the entire inning.
Also, could it any more Eckstein-like to still have his helmet on as he was heading back to the dugout, though with it practically covering his eyes, while Tony La Russa picks him up as he hugs him?
A couple weeks later, it was an even better comeback (which is what the picture above is from).
The Cards were trailing the Giants 4-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. Even though it was his Cy Young-winning season, Chris Carpenter had given up all four runs although only three were earned due to a top-of-the-ninth error by Grudzielanek. The Cardinals began with four straight hits: a double by John Mabry, a single by So, a homer by a young and tattoo-less Yadi Molina and a pinch-hit single by John Rodriguez. (Ah, J-Rod.) Eckstein then does a more Eckstein-like thing and sacrifices pinch-runner Hector Luna over before Abraham Nunez singles. That Guy Who Used to Play First Base was up, and popped out. Jason Christiansen came into the game to pitch, delivered the first one to Jim Edmonds and … well, you’ll have to watch. Not a homer, but close, and enough to allow Nunez to score. Oh, and there are plenty of shots of Giants catcher Mike Matheny throughout the inning.
Ah, nothing like a couple of walk-off wins to warm this cold December day! (Thanks to my friend Michael for sharing these clips from his amazingly extensive video collection.)
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 and like us on Facebook if you don’t already.