Central secured! Cardinals clinch division title with win in Milwaukee Tuesday
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Due to a quirk of the head-to-head tiebreaker system, the Cardinals entered their game against the Brewers Tuesday night in Milwaukee with a chance to clinch the division despite the ‘magic number’ of 3. St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas was a man on a mission, eager to make it happen.
Mikolas tossed a gem: six innings of one-run baseball, striking out nine Brewers hitters en route to a 6-2 win that sealed the deal for St. Louis. For the first time since 2019, the Cardinals are champions in the National League Central.
The win gave the Cardinals 90 for the season while dealing Milwaukee its 72nd loss. That means even with wins off the sheet for the remainder of the season, 90 wins is now the Brewers’ maximum—tying the Cardinals’ current total. With Tuesday’s win, though, St. Louis secured the season-series over Milwaukee, leading it 10-8 with Wednesday’s game yet to play.
Since the head-to-head record is the tiebreaker under the new playoff format, the Cardinals made that ‘magic number’ of 3 disappear in one night—magic, indeed.
St. Louis got things rolling with some small ball out of the gate, with a Paul Goldschmidt sacrifice fly and an Adrian Houser wild pitch plating a run in each of the first two innings. Catcher Andrew Knizner provided some key insurance with a two-run homer in the fourth.
Knizner told the Bally Sports Midwest pregame show Tuesday, “This is a game that we’ve been playing for since we started spring training. The day to check off our first goal of the season, which is win the division.”
Thanks in part to Kiz’s big swing, the Cardinals did exactly that on Tuesday.
The majority of the rest of the credit should go to Mikolas. The veteran right-hander has been one of the team’s most consistent starters this season, but his numbers on the road have paled in comparison to his performance at Busch Stadium. Prior to Tuesday, he carried a 4.29 ERA on the road and a 2.38 mark at home.
Mikolas dug deep and threw one of his best games of the season, allowing just a solo home run to Rowdy Telez in the sixth inning as the lone tally against him in the win at American Family Field. It’s that kind of outing that should give the Cardinals confidence in Mikolas for the postseason rotation, regardless of where the schedule might take his appearances.
The Cardinals also saw signs of life breathed into Paul Goldschmidt amid his recent slump, as the MVP front-runner—and if you look at the numbers, he should still be considered precisely that—provided a 2-for-4 night with a pair of RBIs. It was a good pulse-check for Goldy, as the Cardinals know they’ll need him at his best in order for Tuesday’s champagne celebration in the Milwaukee visitors’ clubhouse to not be the last one St. Louis enjoys in 2022.
The journey to this point has been nothing short of miraculous for the 2022 Cardinals. Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina set the record they’ve been chasing down for years—MLB’s all-time most prolific pitcher-catcher battery. Albert Pujols began the year needing 21 home runs in a supposed part-time role to secure his place in baseball immortality in the 700 Club. On the strength of one of the most wonderful second-half runs in ages, Pujols secured his spot in history on Friday in Los Angeles.
Now, there’s just one goal left for this group to accomplish this season. It’s a distinction Wainwright, Pujols and Molina have achieved before. Despite their lengthy resumes in MLB, other St. Louis veterans like Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are seeking it for the first time. Some Cardinals youngsters might be too green to even realize fully what’s at stake.
But the remaining goal is clear and collective for the Cardinals: a World Championship for St. Louis in 2022.
Copyright 2022 KMOV. All rights reserved.