The Cardinals had one of their best starting pitchers, fully rested, on the mound to start Game 3. The Padres had a guy who hadn't started a Major League ballgame since 2010 on the mound to start the decisive meeting of their National League Wild Card series.
Somehow, some way, San Diego got it done with a 4-0 win to win their first post-season series since 1998. It's also the first time in four tries they topped the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoffs. The Friars are off to Arlington, TX, to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the best-of-5 National League Division Series.
Craig Stammen got the first five outs then a cavalcade of fellow relievers followed to not just shut out the Cardinals, but to allow just four hits. Tim Hill, Pierce Johnson, Adrian Morejon, Austin Adams, Luis Patino, Emilio Pagan, Drew Pomeranz and Trevor Rosenthal combined on one of the most remarkable and unique series-clinchers in baseball history.
Cardinals fireballer Jack Flaherty had the kind of stuff that made him one of baseball's best pitchers in 2019. He was also working on a shutout in the 5th inning when the Padres finally broke through thanks to Fernando Tatis Jr.
Because who else could it be?
The lifeblood of the Padres franchise ripped a double down the left field line and scored two batters later on an RBI double by Eric Hosmer to put the Friars on top 1-0. San Diego got two more in the 7th on some rare defensive miscues from St. Louis.
The Cardinals were one of baseball's best defensive teams in the regular season but throwing errors by Kolten Wong and La Jolla native Tommy Edman, followed by a bases loaded walk to Eric Hosmer, led to a pair of runs and a 3-0 lead.
In the 8th inning the Cardinals looked like they'd mount a rally against Pomeranz. With a runner on Paul DeJong hit a soft liner towards centerfield that looked like it would bring the tying run to the plate but Tatis came flying through the air to make an unreal diving catch that ended the inning.
In the bottom half rookie Jake Cronenworth put one more on the board with a solo home run to centerfield, his first post-season bomb. Cronenworth had three hits and finished the 3-game series hitting .625.
Rosenthal, the former Cardinal, struck out the side in the 9th to seal it. So now it's on to the NLDS.
Bring on the Dodgers.
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