Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals sweep Cubs, tie franchise record with 14 consecutive wins
By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com
On July 18, 1935, a lineup that featured four future Hall of Famers – Pepper Martin, Joe Medwick, Ripper Collins and Leo Durocher – led the Cardinals to a 13-3 win over the Boston Braves at Sportsman’s Park. It was the team’s 14th consecutive win.
For 86 years and 68 days that stood as the record for the longest winning streak in franchise history – until that team got company on Friday night.
A five-homer night, including a three-run blast from Tyler O’Neill, powered the Cardinals to a 12-4 win over the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the second half of their day-night doubleheader for their 14th win in a row.
That victory came after O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt hit two of the Cardinals three homers in game one, an 8-5 victory.
A team beset by pitching injuries through the middle portion of the season, a team that was struggling to stay above .500 and was hard to watch, has suddenly become a team that is hard to stop watching.
They have gone from a team just two games above .500 when the streak began on Sept. 11 to one that is now 16 games over .500 and rapidly closing in on clinching the second wild-card playoff spot.
One of the biggest reasons for the surge has been O’Neill, whose homers in each game of the doubleheader increased his season total to 31. During the 14-game streak, O’Neill has hit six homers and driven in 19 runs.
O’Neill now has 10 homers this month, the most by a Cardinal in September since Scott Rolen did it in 2002.
Goldschmidt has been just as hot. His homer in game one was his 30th of the season and his four RBIs combined between the two games increased his season total to 97. He has hit .407 (22-of-54) with six homers and 15 RBIs during the winning streak.
The doubleheader sweep also featured the return of pitchers Jack Flaherty and Dakota Hudson in game two, both coming off injuries, and both potentially key additions should the Cardinals advance to the postseason.
The only negative news of the day was an injury to shortstop Edmundo Sosa. He had to come out of game one after being hit by a pitch on his right wrist. Initial scans did not reveal a fracture but he will continue to undergo further exams. The initial report said Sosa was expected to miss between three and five days.
Here is how Friday’s doubleheader broke down:
At the plate: The eight homers combined between the two games increased the team total to 42 for September, just three shy of matching the franchise record of 45 for the most home runs hit in that month, set by the Mark McGwire-led team in his 70-homer season in 1998. Jose Rondon had the other game one homer, as a pinch-hitter, while Lars Nootbaar homered twice in game two, both as part of back-to-back shots, first with Paul DeJong in the third and then with Harrison Bader in the seventh. Nootbaar, starting in place of Dylan Carlson in right field, had been hitless in his previous 23 at-bats before the first home run … O’Neill became the first Cardinal to homer in both games of a doubleheader at Wrigley since Matt Carpenter in 2018 … The five homers in game two marked the eighth time in the Cardinals’ 992 career games at Wrigley that they have hit five or more homere, the last time coming on July 20, 2018 … Yadier Molina’s two-run double in game two was the 400th of his career and left him just two RBIs shy of 1,000 for his career.
On the mound: Hudson relieved Flaherty in the first inning of game two and worked 3 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out two and did not walk a batter. The appearance came four days shy of the one-year anniversary since he underwent Tommy John surgery. He earned the win in relief of Flaherty, who got the start but was on a very limited pitch count and threw just 19 pitches, retiring only one of the four hitters he faced … J.A. Happ had to pitch out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning of game one to complete four scoreless innings. A five-run inning off Alex Reyes (charged with four of the runs) and T.J. McFarland forced the Cardinals to use Giovanny Gallegos to get the save in the seven-inning game which they led 8-0 going to the bottom of the sixth.
Key stat: With Goldschmidt and O’Neill joining Nolan Arenado in the 30-homer club, this is only the second time in franchise history the Cardinals have three players with 30 or more home runs in the same season. The only previous time that happened was when Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds and Rolen did it in 2004.
Worth noting: The Cardinals announced that tickets for possible Division Series game will go on sale at noon Tuesday. If the Cardinals earn a wild-card playoff spot and win that game, they would host game 3 on Monday, Oct. 11 and a possible game 4 on Tuesday, Oct. 12. Tickets can be purchased through cardinals.com/postseason or by calling 314-345-9000 … The Cardinals designated Hudson as their 29th player for Friday’s doubleheader, meaning they will have to make another roster move on Saturday if they want to keep him on the active roster … To make room for Flaherty, reliever Brandon Waddell was optioned to Memphis.
Looking ahead: Former Cub Jon Lester will get the start at Wrigley Field on Saturday in the third game of the series as the Cardinals try to break the tie and set the record for the longest winning streak in team history. It will be Lester’s third career start as a visitor at Wrigley, following one start for the Red Sox and one for the Nationals.
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