Top 10 moments from a memorable 2014 Cardinals season
Top 10 Cardinals playoff moments by Stan McNeal
Six weeks have passed since the Cardinals' season came to a crash ending in San Francisco. That's enough time for the disappointment of the finish to fade and an appreciation of a darn good season to come into focus. A fourth straight trip to the National League Championship Series produced a lot of memories. Following are 10 moments I won't forget.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
No. 1: Adams skips -- NLDS Game 4, Oct. 7
Clayton Kershaw had dominated for six innings when he started the seventh by allowing singles to Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta. That brought up Matt Adams, the guy who supposedly can't hit lefties, and he slugged a Kershaw curve into the Cardinals' bullpen for a home run that clinched the four-game NL Division Series victory. Big City literally skipped around first base, even though he said, "I don't think I touched the ground the whole way around."
No. 2: Cardinals rock Kershaw -- NLDS Game 1, Oct. 3
Down 6-2 in the seventh to the game's best pitcher? No problem, said the Cardinals. Matt Carpenter's bases-loaded, three-run double was the big hit but hardly the only one. Matt Holliday added a three-run homer as the Cardinals roughed up Clayton Kershaw for six hits and eight runs in one inning to absolutely stun the LA ace. The Dodgers got the tying run to third before Trevor Rosenthal struck out Yasiel Puig to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead in the NLDS.
APMark J. Terrill
No. 3: Wong walks off -- NLCS Game 2, Oct. 12
Kolten Wong had a breakout October with seven extra-base hits, including three homers. None was bigger than the walk-off homer he drilled off San Francisco reliever Sergio Romo on a Sunday night at Busch Stadium that gave the Cardinals a 5-4 victory and evened the NLCS at a game apiece. It would be the Cardinals' last win of the season.
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
No. 4: Lackey delivers -- NLDS Game 3, Oct. 6
Big-game veteran John Lackey delivered as advertised, working seven strong innings and pitching the Cardinals to a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers in the all-important Game 3 of the NLDS. Matt Carpenter homered and doubled for the third straight game and Kolten Wong provided the decisive blow with a two-run homer in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie and made a winner of Lackey.
No. 5: High five for Carpenter -- June 4
At Kansas City, Matt Carpenter became the first Cardinals player in five years to go 5 for 5 in a game. He saved his best for last, too. After the Cardinals blew a 2-0 lead in the ninth, Carpenter doubled in the go-ahead run in the 11th in what ended a 5-2 victory. Carpenter entered the dugout after the ninth screaming that the game would not end like that. He made sure it didn't.
Denny Medley-USA TODAY SportsDenny Medley
No. 6: Rally time against the Cubs -- Aug. 30
The Cardinals' only doubleheader of the season didn't start well. A loss in the opener was their fourth straight, equaling their longest skid of 2014. But the Cardinals hammered away their frustrations against the Cubs with a nine-run eighth inning in the second game, which resulted in a 13-2 victory. Yadier Molina had two hits in the big inning and Matt Holliday slugged two homers in the game.
No. 7: Lance Lynn completes the job -- May 27
Derek Jeter and the mighty Yankees were playing their first series at new Busch Stadium, but Lance Lynn hogged the spotlight. The big right-hander took a big step forward by pitching the first shutout and complete game of his career. Put the emphasis on pitching, too. Lynn struck out only two, equaling his season low, but he went away from his usual power repertoire and did not allow a runner to reach third base all day.
No. 8: Wainwright quiets the Rays -- June 10
This 1-0 victory at Tropicana Field epitomized what was an excellent but not easy season for Wainwright. He pitched seven scoreless innings and after the game talked about all the physical ailments he'd been dealing with. Wainwright would miss his next start with a balky right elbow that would require cleanup surgery after the season. You'd never know he was less than 100 percent judging by his numbers: 20 wins and a career-best 2.38 ERA.
No. 9: Jay takes (another) one for the team
Jon Jay was hit by so many pitches in 2014 -- he led the majors with 20 HBPs, including the one above -- that sooner or later, one of the plunkings was bound to decide a game. One did on Aug. 19 against the Reds. With the score tied and the bases loaded in the ninth, Jay took a fastball off his lower right leg to give the Cardinals a 5-4 walk-off victory.
Matt Marton-USA TODAY SportsMatt Marton
No. 10: Oscar makes a memorable debut -- May 31
Top prospect Oscar Taveras arrived in the majors amid great expectations and wasted little time showing what the hype was about. In his second at-bat, Taveras launched a curveball into the right-field seats that broke a scoreless tie and helped the Cardinals to a 2-0 victory over the Giants. The blast and ensuing curtain calls will serve as enduring images of the young slugger, killed in a car wreck shortly after the season at age 22.