St. Louis Cardinals magic runs out as season suddenly ends in Phillies sweep
The St. Louis Cardinals season ended over the weekend with a thud at Busch Stadium.
The Philadelphia Phillies swept the Cards out of the playoffs with a 2-0 victory Saturday night and a 6-3 win the day before. St. Louis gave up 6 runs in a ninth-inning collapse Friday.
The losses followed a regular season in which St. Louis won the National League Central Division, giving many fans hope that the team could once again achieve World Series glory.
A year of striking numbers
Slugger Albert Pujols became only the fourth player in major league history to hit 700 career home runs, and catcher Yadier Molina and pitcher Adam Wainwright set a record for starting combinations with their 325th game together.
But the success didn’t extend into the postseason against Philadelphia.
“We didn't beat ourselves. They beat us,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said shortly after his first season guiding the team came to an end in front of 48,515 fans.
That’s the largest crowd in playoff history at Busch Stadium, and not everyone in the stands went home disappointed.
“I mean, you’re in baseball heaven, watching two teams battle. I’m just glad we’re on the winning side for once," said Phillies fan Jon Wells, a student at St. Louis University.
He grew up near Philadelphia and vividly remembers 2011, when St. Louis knocked Philadelphia out of the playoffs.
“We are Cardinals fans, unless they’re playing the Phillies," Wells said. "We keep the allegiances close to home.”
A time for Phillies fans
Philadelphia native Alex Hammell drove to St. Louis from Nashville for Saturday’s game, which he regarded as a typical performance for this year’s Phillies.
“They’re the resilient Phillies. They don’t back out of games. They come back. The fightin’ Phillies we call them,” he said.
Hammell was wearing a Phillies shirt in a sea of Cardinals red after Saturday’s series clincher.
Lisa DeWitt was in that throng of St. Louis fans. She and her husband, Bradley, drove from Iowa to spend their third anniversary weekend watching playoff baseball at Busch.
“We’re just diehard fans of the game,” she said, noting a magical final season for Molina and Pujols.
“We could always say we saw their last all-time game at Busch Stadium. That’s something I’ll always remember.”
Molina has fond memories of Cardinals followers now that his career is over.
“I appreciate all the fans for all their support for many years,” he said shortly after Saturday’s loss.
“I’ll miss them.”
Pujols will remember his teammates. He admits the weekend was a disappointing way for his Hall of Fame career to end.
“The team that we had and the chance that we had this year to hopefully bring a championship, and it didn’t happen,” he said.
As Pujols and Molina move on, St. Louis fans are reflecting on their accomplishments, while thinking about next season.
The Cardinals' first 2023 spring training game is Feb. 25 in Florida.
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