Phillies Hold off Cardinals 2-0 to Sweep NL Wild-Card Series

by NutraProds

ST. Saint Louis (AP) – St. Louis (AP) – Phillies took no time in bringing their celebrations from the infield of Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals had gone away to grieve the passing of an era. They then moved into the clubhouse of the visiting team and into the clubhouse, where champagne flowed freely, and Calum Scott’s “Dancing On My Own” played over the loudspeakers.

For the first time in more than 10 years of baseball’s wilderness Philadelphia was finally able to win another postseason game.

It was Aaron Nola pitching four-hit ball through the seventh inning, an early homer from Bryce Harper and some gutsy performances from the bullpen. When Zach Eflin retired Tommy Edman and left the tying score on the base The Phillies had squeaked out two wins against Cardinals Cardinals in the night of Saturday to secure the win in the National League wild-card series.

“Everybody in that clubhouse, on this team, in this organization is super excited,” Nola stated. “Just a bunch of selfless players willing to do whatever it takes to win a game, whatever it may be. There’s lots of excitement.”

Long renowned for his struggles in September, Nola proved to be an October star. The unflappable righty struck out six times and walked one in 101 pitches before going down after two strikeouts during the 7th. Jose Alvarado then retired longtime St. Louis star Yadier Molina with a popup leaving a runner in the first.

In the eighth inning, Seranthony Dominguez struck both Paul Goldschmidt in the eighth Nolan Arenado to wiggle out of a two-on one-out jam . The top contestants to win NL MVP were a combined 1 for 15 in the series , with zero RBIs as well as six strikes.

With one last chance in the ninth inning, the Cardinals had consecutive singles that were two-out by Corey Dickerson and Molina. But Eflin, the Phillies’ starter-turned-closer, responded by getting Edman to foul out, giving Philadelphia its first postseason series win since topping Cincinnati in the 2010 divisional round.

The Phillies will play an opponent they have played before that is that of the NL East champion Braves, starting on Tuesday in Atlanta.

“Our players, they love being in this situation,” said Phillies manager Rob Thomson, who took the reins of a struggling team when Joe Girardi was fired early in the season. “And this is what I’m most proud of. There are many players who didn’t play in the playoffs but they did very well. The game didn’t go to all the way to them. I’m very happy about that.”

Miles Mikolas allowed two runs and two hits for St Louis before he left at the end of the fifth with just two batters. Albert Pujols had a pair of singles, one in the eighth inning in what could be the last game of his career as Molina had been without a hit prior to his own hit in the final time he’ll wear the Cardinals uniform.

“This was never about me coming back here,” Pujols stated. “This was about an organization that opened the door for me to finish my career here. My mission was always to help this ballclub to win every day.”

The sold-out crowd of 48,515 which was the third largest ever in Busch Stadium history, was the loudest and most flag-waving striving to help keep the Cards their dream season going. Instead, the fans saw as the NL Central champions go down without a hitch, falling in the opening round of playoffs for the third consecutive season.

“It’s a tough one, when you know it’s Yadi’s last year and Albert’s last year,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “There’s just extra motivation to deliver for them, and do something special, and allow that story to end with a championship.”

“It’s definitely sad,” Marmol said, “but it’s the way we’re going.”

Harper who was hitless in the opening and threw the Phillies ahead when the curveball was 76 mph and hit his bat at 111.6 speed on the first pitch of the 2nd inning. The ball cut through the cold wind of October and fell 435 feet from.

The way that pitchers have controlled the wild-card game Harper’s one powerful swing could be the differentiator.

“I did not play particularly well. This is what I consider,” Goldschmidt said. “If I could have played better, maybe we could’ve won at least one of them, if not both of them. That’s disappointing.”

(Original Caption) 10/14/1985-St. Louis, MO- Cardinals’ Ozzie Smith holds up his arm as he rounds third base after hitting a solo home run off Dodger Tom Niedenfuer in the bottom of the 9th to win the game. St. Louis now leads the National Championship Series, three games to two.

Nola was a revelation in her latest amazing performance, giving up a single to Lars Nootbaar to lead off the game, before ripping through the remainder of the St. Louis lineup. The next flaw on the right-hander’s track didn’t appear until Edman was walked in the third inning, and Nola immediately hit out Nootbaar and affixed Pujols to hit a sly grounder to finish the pitch.

Nola also had some impressive defense in his back.

The third baseman Alec Bohm made a stellar grab of Molina’s brutally hit ball along the line that started to the third. And the following day, he made a greater grab take Arenado of two bases more at the end of the fourth.

Bohm then followed with a ground-rule single to kick into the fifth. Brandon Marsh laid down a sacrifice bunt. After Jean Segura was plunked by the final pitch Mikolas pitched, Jordan Montgomery walked Bryson Stott over four pitches to take the bases. Kyle Schwarber followed with a sacrifice fly to increase his Philadelphia lead.

The Phillies baserunning? This wasn’t quite as impressive.

Harper was sent to the bench after trying to get second base after an error in the sixth inning -the call was upheld following an examination of the video. Then, Bohm was picked off first base, with the runner still on the third base to end the once-promising innings.

The manner Nola or his bullpen were pitching, nothing did any good.

“We played the game the right way,” Thomson stated. “We were able to pitch well. We’ve got a really strong defense. We saw a lot of non-selfish bats, you know players giving their own lives, rolling players over from second to third , with nobody else out trying to get additional runs. It was a team effort. I’m very happy for them.”

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The sweep grants the Phillies an extra day of rest before their trip to Atlanta which they lost 3-3 in the regular season, compared to the Atlanta Braves, who are the current World Series champions. The Braves took 11 wins from their 19 games overall this season.

“We know them very well,” Bohm stated. “We’re going to go over there and it’s going to be some competitive baseball.”

The Cardinals are entering an offseason that is markedly different: Pujols and Molina have stated that it is their final year as ace, and former star Adam Wainwright could join them as they retire. Arenado might opt out of his contract, although it’s unlikely, and players Jose Quintana and outfielder Dickerson are both eligible for free agency.

“I’ll tell you this,” Wainwright declared, “I don’t like not pitching in a playoff series. You can take that one of two ways: You can take that as it’s been a good run or you can take that as motivation to never let that happen again.”

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