Cardinals vs. Phillies score takeaway: Philadelphia heads to NLDS for first time since 2011 with sweep

The Philadelphia Phillies go to the NLDS for the first time since 2011, as they eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals with a two-game sweep at Busch Stadium. The Phillies’ 2-0 Saturday night win wrapped up the series, kicked off a celebration and moved them into the bracket.

The Phillies’ Game 1 win was incredibly dramatic, with a six-point ninth providing all of their offense in a 6-3 win. This time it was biting, but with less offensive fireworks.

Here’s how it went.

Phillies struck first, added insurance later

As noted, the Phillies went eight innings without scoring a single run in Game 1, but then exploded with a six-run ninth. It didn’t take that long to get on the board this time, as Bryce Harper crushed an offer from Miles Mikolas to start the second run.

It was Harper’s sixth postseason home run in 80 at-bats.

The Phillies would later turn on a run with a Kyle Schwarber sack volley in a rally that started with a brace from Alec Bohm. Along the same lines, Bohm also made two sparkling defensive plays at third base.

Harper’s home run along with the wiggle room provided by the insurance run was all the Phillies needed.

Nola brought it

If the Phillies want to make any kind of run in the playoffs, they’ll need a great job from their two aces in Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola. Not just in the run prevention department, but they both need to go deeper into plays, given the precarious situation in the bullpen.

Wheeler was good in 6 1/3 innings in his first career playoff start in Game 1. Nola was better in this one. He went 6 2/3 scoreless and allowed only four hits (all singles) and one walk while striking out six. He made some huge throws, especially taking out Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado with a runner on base to finish sixth.

Speaking of what…

Goldschmidt and Arenado continued to struggle

Both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado could finish in the top three in NL MVP voting, but neither has been great in the final month of the season. Goldschmidt has hit .229/.328/.352 in his last 30 games. Arenado has hit .221/.302/.347 in his last 27.

He seems to have continued, mainly on Goldschmidt’s side. Arenado went 1 of 8 in the series, although he hit a few hard balls and was met with good defense and a fortune of batted balls. Goldschmidt can’t really say the same. He was 0 for 7 with four strikeouts. They each left four men on base here in Game 2. A big swing from one of them could have turned the tide and possibly kept the season alive.

The biggest moment of the series, in fact, came in the eighth inning after Albert Pujols singled to make them runners at first and second with one out, trailing 2-0. Seranthony Domínguez hit them both to end the threat.

Phillies bullpen gets it big

As noted, Domínguez got away with some huge throws and it was the theme of the Phillies’ much-maligned bullpen. He finally did his job and didn’t allow a run in 3 1/3 innings.

First, it was José Alvarado who took over from Nola with a runner in the seventh inning. He caused an end-of-inning pop out by Yadier Molina.

It was Domínguez when they entered in the eighth inning with an over and an over. He dropped Pujols’ single before the aforementioned strikeouts to end the threat.

Then it was former starter Zach Eflin, who recorded just one career stoppage in the regular season and just started working in late-inning situations at the end of September of this year, taking the relay in the ninth.

There were problems, again, as Eflin recorded two outs before allowing singles to Corey Dickerson and Molina. He caused a foul from Tommy Edman to end the match.

Eflin’s first career save came in the game where the Phillies clinched their first playoff berth since 2011. His first career playoff save comes here with the Phillies winning their first playoff since the 2010 NLDS.

Pujols, Molina come out with hits

Albert Pujols made his debut for the Cardinals on April 2, 2001. Yadier Molina made his debut on June 3, 2004. Pujols was gone for a time signing a gargantuan deal with the Angels, but the two still combined to play for the Cardinals for more than 4,000 games in the regular season, not to mention lengthy playoff streaks that included World Series championships in 2006 and 2011.

This year was the last race for both. Pujols is easily a first-round Hall of Famer and Molina is likely heading in that direction himself. Every player was able to go for a pinch runner at a big time after picking up what could have been a game-breaking blow. Pujols went 2 for 4 and his single put the Phillies in hot water in the eighth.

Molina then extended the game, instead of advancing to the Finals, with a two-out hit in the ninth to, once again, really put the Phillies in jeopardy.

The bandmates following the hits didn’t help make it a storybook ending for the duo, but they each came out with a well-hit single.


The Phillies move to the NLDS against the NL East champion Atlanta Braves. The series begins with Game 1 on Tuesday in Atlanta. The Phillies have gone 8-11 against the Braves this season, including losing five of their last seven to them. However, it is a clean slate. They’ll likely start Ranger Suárez in Game 1 before moving back to Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

As for the Cardinals, it was a pretty successful season. They trailed the Brewers for most of the first half and used a huge run to start the second half to catapult themselves into first place and win the NL Central by seven games. The season is now over after two disappointing home playoff games.

Add Comment