PHOENIX – Between Paul Goldschmidt's home run to mark his homecoming and the delayed runways to secure his happy return, the Cardinals had to go through a game that determined where they would need to survive in order to thrive October.  The home-winning awards were really a dress rehearsal for a bun.
The Cardinals hit four home runs at Chase Field, including the 100th Gold in Goldsmith, to take and extend their lead, but never far enough to retain the diamond backs. completely out of reach. This task went to relief. The three right-handers who lit up their roles for the postseason put up three pointless innings to take the lead in the ninth, where Carlos Martinez secured a 9-7 and 24th save late Monday night against the Diamondbacks.
Martinez bent down but did not hit the rescue in a tumultuous Nine to relieve Adam Wainwright. That earned him his fifth victory in September and reduced the Cardinals to one victory closer to the division title in October.
"We all need it," Goldschmid said. "That's where we are in the division race."
The Cardinals (90-67) reduced their magic number to three in front of the Brewers in second place. With Milwaukee to begin the series in Cincinnati on Tuesday, the Cardinals lead the Central National League with 3½ games to go with five to play.
The Cardinals won 90 games for the first time since 201
The flush of their four – Clearing the Cubs at Wrigley Field, which was one of the most important end-of-season road series in Cardinals history, veterans of the team acknowledged such a high that it could invite a desert low. Prior to the start of the final regular-season road series, the Cardinals spoke of avoiding a break-in, letting helium win Wrigley and leaving them disappointed with the Diamondbacks. This word spread throughout the club house.
"The message from all our veterans was what we did in Chicago was great," says Wainwright (14-9). "This is probably my favorite four-day stretch of any regular season that I remember. That was incredible. But what we started there in Chicago was great, but this is just the beginning.
No player in the National League has played any more games this season than Goldschmidt, and yet he only returns to the 156th in the ball calling home for his entire career this summer. More than six hours before the first pitch, Goldschmidt and his family visited the pitch and played the ball in the right field. He was joined by friends and their children for a makeshift gathering and a family day out. The game started with a tribute video to Goldschmidt, a six-time All-Star as a Diamondback and a routine MVP candidate. Before the game, there were two passes, the old Goldshmid had lined up his hat and helmet to the crowd as a thank-you for the standing ovation.
The Cardinals have known him long enough to feel his anxiety.
"This is not his cup of tea, per se," said manager Mike Schildt.
Goldschmidt's two-run home run in the second inning starter Alex Young pushed the Cardinals' lead to 4-1. Field as her leader with 99 runs in the home and then added her first as a visitor – her 100th in ball history. He added a single in the ninth for a two-hit game. By then, Harrison Bader's homer in the eighth had provided Cardinals insurance "
And another look at her post-season casting.
Rookie Ryan Helsley, co. more and more often he appeared as a flurry of mid-innings, struck out a batter and got a key double play to freeze the score 6-5 after six innings.All four wins at Wrigley over the weekend were one start and three of the matches were won in the Cardinals Finals, putting pressure on the bullpen not only to keep the Cubs, but also to close the Cubs. The Cardinals continue to measure Helsley for his role in the middleweight game in October because of the power the right-hander brings to the fourth or fifth innings. In the seventh straight man Giovanni Galegos, a revelation with relief this season, withdrew all three that he encountered. John Brebia, the bearded constant for the group, hit two and threw a perfect eight before allowing a homer in the ninth and leading Martinez into the game.
All three of these reliefs, from season to rookie to rookie, could see similar appointments in similar places in different order in the playoffs.
"You see guys who are comfortable in these big places," Wainwright said. "Some young guys left for Chicago and had big shows for us, and (Monday) the guys came there and were comfortable in big places. That's the key. To each team after the season I participated in, it seems that those roles and some sleeping or surprising guys eventually slip into the post-season list. If it was Jason Motte or Mitchell Boggs or young Adam Wainwright – sometimes you get those guys who show up and just give that extra spark to the bun. "
Catcher Yadier Molina, the shepherd of this relief herd, added a sacrifice fly to his home run for three RBI in the game. The Cardinals loaded the bases with no outs in the ninth and squeaked enough runs to stop Martinez's shorts briefly. A solo homer and a walk to lead the ninth against Brebia came close to their fifth appearance in six games.
Back at home, Goldschmidt reached home in three runs.
His appearance on the plate applauded, though he refused to accept the assumption that his return to Chase Field was something of a standing ovation at Albert Puchols at Busch Stadium earlier this season.
"One to 10 percent of what happened to him," says Goldschmidt.
The success that got Jack Flutherty in the combination for the votes of the Young Young Award and brought the Cardinals back into contention began in August, when the young starter won his first four decisions and had a 0.28 EPA. He allowed one earned run in his first 32 innings this month and walked just eight. He was 4-0. This earned him the National League Award for the month of August.
While Fleurty, starting Tuesday for the Cardinals, continued to dominate his dog days in September, Wainwright launched his own, sharing some of Flaherty & # 39; s results. In his first four starts in September, Wainwright was unbeaten, going 4-0 and allowing one run in his first 27 innings along with four walks. The veteran also signed his contract early Monday, earning a $ 2 million bonus for the 30th start of the season. Having achieved all his incentives and doing it stylishly, Wainwright added $ 8 million in bonuses to his $ 2 million base salary.
"The contract was one of those that did both sides perfectly," says John Moseliak, president of the Cardinals' baseball operations. "Whenever you come across something at shared risk, it's nice to see both sides rewarded."
Wainwright reached the wilderness with a 0.33 EPA in September.
It didn't take long to get burned.
The Diamond Pieces scored the Cardinals with a run in the second, and Christian Walker's Home in the fourth, and then things started to fire up and peel off to Wainwright in the fifth. The one-time walk to the kicking shield was the spin of Wainwright's start and the prelude to four consecutive singles. Josh Rojas and Eduardo Escobar each had RBI singles, and left fielder Jake Lamb made a sacrifice fly to right field. The Cardinals stayed with Wainwright through the bases charging and then reloading in the inning, and he hit veteran Adam Jones to keep the Diamondbacks off more than three runs. The equalizer was second base when Wainwright threw his final pitch of the game.
He allowed five starts on eight hits over five innings, but thanks to the Cardinals who clung to him for the final of the fifth, he was on the line to improve to 5-0 this month.
The home runways did most of the heavy lifting to build the Wainwright that led.
Tommy Edman hit his 11th home run of the season in the first inning of the Cardinals' first run. Goldschmidt's two-shot shot to right field came in the third inning. And in the fifth inning, Molina watched from the deck circle as Marcel Ozuna struck the ball into deep center field. Molina raised her hands as Ozuna's ball came to the wall but not above it. With Ozun in second and at 2-0, Molina reached out again and catapulted a homer into the seats on the left. This pushes the Cardinals to a 6: 6 lead that will erode in the fifth inning. The Cardinals won their sixth straight game. Eight of their last 10 games have been decided by three or fewer games.
This admires what awaits them in the playoffs.
"I don't think you can always win close games," says Goldschmidt. "We know that. But in the last few weeks the schedule has been difficult. … I think we knew there would be a lot of tight games. Everyone uses their bulb. Every step matters. It's like playoff baseball. We knew this would come in and were not disappointed.
"If we play well, it will be a great story," he concluded. "If we don't, there will be another storyline."