Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hochman: One Game Might Go Down as Turning Point for Cardinals

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Hochman: One Game Might Go Down as Turning Point for Cardinals

Article excerpt

The eight minutes that changed the Cardinals' season began with an opposing closer gripping a baseball and a lead.

Wade Davis stood on the mound at Busch Stadium the afternoon of Aug. 2 where, an autumn before, he had clinched a division title for the Cubs.

In 2018, though, Davis joined the Colorado Rockies. It was, sure enough, in Colorado on Sunday where the Cardinals -- these hair-flailing and hair-raising hell-raisers – won 12-3, securing their ninth straight series.

But it was against Davis' Rockies on Aug. 2 that the Cards captured so much that defines the new-look club.

Here's why it was so pivotal.

Uncertainty was swirling. New manager, new hitting coaches, new-look bullpen. The Cards were 53-52 entering this four-game homestand with Colorado. St. Louis won the first game. Before the second game, which the Cards lost, they dealt the popular Tommy Pham at the trade deadline. By not acquiring any major league reinforcements, there was a pall over the Cards' season -- at least provided by much of the media and some fans.

"I think we said at the time -- I don't know if anybody believed us -- that we didn't feel like we were giving up on the season or anything," general manager Michael Girsch said. "Because we felt we were trading from areas of depth and making room for guys that we wanted to give opportunities to. Tommy Pham had an unbelievable season last year, but we felt like we needed to find out what (Harrison) Bader could do and (Tyler) O'Neill could do. And we expected them to be quality big leaguers. We weren't sure, but that's what we were expecting. We felt like we were still a playoff-caliber team, we just have got to start playing like that."

The Cards won on Wednesday, Aug. 1, to take a 2-1 series lead against Colorado.

But the Cards trailed 2-1 in the ninth on Aug. 2.

If they lost that game and split the series, man, it would've just been a demoralizing waste of four days -- making up no ground in the standings, four days closer to the end.

And they had a nine-game road trip, beginning the next night.

So yeah, these next eight minutes were pretty imperative.

As Davis prepared to pitch to the inning's first hitter, Yairo Munoz, the Busch afternoon crowd applauded for Matt Carpenter, acknowledged on the scoreboard as the National League's player of the month for July.

And then, Munoz hit the ball to Carp's competition for MVP, third baseman Nolan Arenado, who made a a pristine backhand-and-heave for the first out at first.

"Oh maaaan," broadcaster Dan McLaughlin said on Fox Sports Midwest. …

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