Cardinals clinch second NL wild-card spot with 17th consecutive win

Written by on September 28, 2021

The St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night won their 17th straight game — a 6-2 win at home over the NL Central-champion Brewers — and with the victory clinched the second and final National League wild-card spot. That means the Cardinals have qualified for the postseason for a third straight year under manager Mike Shildt. 

Buoyed by that franchise-record 17-game win streak, which is the longest in the National League since 1937, and a 44-23 mark in the second half, the Cardinals have barged into playoff position despite being below the .500 mark as recently as Aug. 8 and at the time having less than a 3.0 percent chance of making the postseason. 

St. Louis ensured its spot on Tuesday night thanks to six strong innings from Adam Wainwright and home runs from Dylan Carlson and Nolan Arenado, who hit his team-leading 34th of the season. Three Cardinals relievers combined to work three scoreless and close out the team’s 88th win of 2021. 

Here’s a look at the final out: 

On the season as a whole, the Cardinals have been paced by 30-homer seasons from first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, third baseman Arenado, and outfielder Tyler O’Neill. Goldschmidt and perhaps O’Neill seem likely to finish in the top 10 of the NL MVP balloting. The team defense was arguably baseball’s best, and in the rotation 40-year-old Wainwright had an age-defying season (3.05 ERA in more than 200 innings). 

Overall, it’s the Cardinals’ 31st postseason berth, and they’ll be angling to win the World Series for the 12th time in franchise history. Only the Yankees have hoisted the trophy more often. This also marks the 14th straight winning season for the Cardinals. Starting with the 2000 season, the Cardinals have made the playoffs 15 times in the past 22 years. 

As things stand presently, the Cardinals would be matched up with the reigning champion Dodgers in the one-and-done NL Wild Card Game. The NL West runner-up will host the Wild Card Game, and right now the Dodgers trail the Giants in the final days of the regular season. Whoever the opponent is, the Cardinals will enter that game as solid underdogs.

The Cardinals become the sixth team in the 2021 playoff field, as they join the Giants, Dodgers, Brewers, Rays and White Sox.

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