The St. Louis Cardinals took the opening game of the National League Wild Card Series 7-4 Wednesday afternoon in a sight all too familiar for San Diego Padres fans.
The Padres’ last three postseason runs have been cut short by St. Louis, a history that seemed to come back and bite the Friars in their first playoff appearance in 14 years.
Game 1 was nothing short of disappointing for the Friars. A weak bullpen combined with substratal inexperience resulted in a Game 1 loss for the Brown and Gold.
With RHP Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet out with injuries, the Padres headed into the series lacking pitching depth. This became clear right off the bat.
The first inning yielded Padres’ starter Chris Paddack allowing four runs, courtesy of Cardinals’ 1B Paul Goldschmidt, LF Dylan Carlson and C Yadier Molina, respectively.
The Padres added a pair of runs through the first two innings, generating some excitement that was soon squandered with the addition of two runs for the Cardinals in the third.
The Sheriff wasn’t in town for very long. After giving up six runs in two and a half innings, Paddock was replaced by LHP Matt Strahm.
“I take all the blame for Game One,” Paddock said in a postgame press conference.
Despite dealing with an early-season COVID-19 setback, resulting in 53 games played in just 44 days, the Cardinals came to win.
After seasoned LHP Kwang-Hyun Kim gave up three runs in just over three innings, the Cardinals’ bullpen held strong and allowed just one more Friar to reach home for the remainder of the game. Their offense, on the other hand, continued to rack up runs.
The Cardinals, who average of 7.7 hits per game in the regular season, came away with 13, indicative of their impressive offensive production.
The Padres attempted to play catch up the rest of the night, but were unable to come back from their early deficit.
Game 2 of the Wild Card Series started out just like the previous afternoon, with the Padres down 4-0 early on.
The Cardinals were red hot in the first inning. Molina ripped one down the right field line, securing his 99th postseason hit and bringing home 3B Tommy Edman to put the Cardinals up 1-0.
Fast forward to inning number two when IF Matt Carpenter got the ball rolling with a leadoff double. This soon translated into a run, with Carpenter reaching home after an RBI double from CF Harrison Bader.
But, wait! There’s more!
2B Kolten Wong knocked a two-run home run over the right field wall, bringing the Padres back to where they found themselves just 24 hours before: down by four.
“We’ve got to get that first run across the board,” Padres General Manager Jayce Tingler told ESPN in the bottom of the third.
The bottom of the fourth made Tingler’s statement a reality. An RBI single by RF Wil Myers scored 1B Eric Hosmer, putting the Padres on the board. A bases loaded walk allowed 1B Mitch Moreland to reach home, bringing the Padres within two runs.
The sixth inning was huge for the Friars, consisting of a three-run bomb by SS Fernando Tatis Jr., immediately followed by a home run from 3B Manny Machado. The game was now tied at six.
The heat continued in the bottom of the seventh, with Myers driving in a run to deep left field to bring the score up 7-6. With the flip of a bat, Tatis Jr. kept up this game of long ball with another two-run homer. Suddenly, the Cardinals were down by three.
This deficit didn’t last long. St. Louis responded with two unearned runs in the top of the eighth, and the Padres were ahead by only one. That is, until Myers blasted another home run in the bottom of the eighth, adding another pair of runs.
True to their title, the Brown and Gold kept up their fight and took Game 2 of the WCS, 11-9.
The third game in the WCS started out slow, until the bottom of the fifth when Hosmer got the ball rolling with an RBI double, bringing home Tatis Jr..
Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty kept things close at 1-0, an impressive feat against an offense expected to come out hitting for the fences.
However, that lead was soon extended to 3-0 in the bottom of the seventh, and the Cardinals found themselves playing catch up.
The bottom of the eighth inning saw Padres SS Jake Cronenworth hit a bomb over the center field wall, making himself the first Padres rookie to hit a postseason home run in franchise history.
For the first time since 1998, the Padres won a postseason series, shutting out the Cardinals and coming out on top 4-0.
The Padres will take on the Dodgers in Arlington, Texas for the NLDS beginning on Tuesday.
I am a senior at San Diego State University majoring in journalism with an emphasis in media studies. I was born and raised in San Diego, California and have a deep love for iced coffee, the beach and Taco Stand. I work for both the marketing and writing departments of The Bullpen, an up-and-coming baseball blog. Additionally, I am a staff writer and reporter for the sports section of The Daily Aztec, SDSU's student newspaper. I have a passion for sports and storytelling, and aspire to be a sidelines reporter for the MLB or a courtside reporter for the NBA.