Cardinals sweep Cubs, tie Brewers for first

ST. LOUIS — It does not take a seismologist to sense the shifting plates within the National League Central with the depleted and reeling Brewers sliding again and the bolstered Cardinals surging to the highest of the division and seemingly nonetheless choosing up steam.

Even with the tip of the common season nonetheless two months away, Thursday doubtless signified a altering of the guard among the many Cardinals and Brewers though they’re technically nonetheless tied atop the division. Like some kind of excellent storm the place a number of occasions lined up ideally for St. Louis, Milwaukee was swept in Pittsburgh earlier than the Cards swept a doubleheader vs. the Cubs.

When the Cardinals gained Game 1, 4-3, on a Lars Nootbaar walk-off single after which received a powerful outing from newcomer José Quintana and a late tiebreaking three-run residence run from Tyler O’Neill in a 7-2 Game 2 victory, it allowed them to select up 1 1/2 video games on the Brewers. The two groups at the moment are tied for first within the NL Central, however their outlooks couldn’t be extra completely different after the Cardinals dealt for three pitchers earlier than the Trade Deadline, whereas the Brewers shockingly unloaded All-Star nearer Josh Hader.

“It’s robust to win two video games, and that was a very good day,” Cardinals supervisor Oliver Marmol surmised. “You look into the eyes of Quintana earlier than that sport begins and it offers you goosebumps. You take a look at anyone within the membership now, there is a actually good feeling going round. And, like I’ve mentioned, the blokes are actually decided. This is a enjoyable little run.”

That’s definitely a sense shared by famous person Nolan Arenado, who not solely hit a 428-foot residence run, but additionally had a highlight-worthy double play within the seventh inning. Arenado pined for some roster additions earlier than the Deadline as a result of he knew the momentum a workforce can get from including to its arsenal, and now he’s seeing these vibes coursing via a workforce with newfound confidence.

“We know that we now have an opportunity — we now have an opportunity to win this division and we now have an opportunity to get to the playoffs,” mentioned Arenado, who had the first residence run since Statcast started monitoring lengthy balls in 2015 with a distance of no less than 428 ft, an exit velocity of no less than 108 mph and a launch angle of no less than 39 levels. “I imply, I do not know the way rather more power you want than that.”

The Cardinals, winners of 4 straight heading into their weekend collection in opposition to the Yankees, swept a doubleheader from the Cubs in St. Louis for the first time since Aug. 10, 1979. It was additionally the first collection sweep of the rival Cubs in St. Louis since May 31-June 2, 2019.

The Cardinals really feel they’re higher geared up to go on runs like this as a result of their beginning employees contains 6-foot-6 lefty Jordan Montgomery and Quintana, an 11-year veteran who did not get rattled by giving up a first-inning residence run to Patrick Wisdom. All Quintana did from there was end six innings with out permitting one other hit or run. He struck out seven — together with a stretch of 4 in a row at one level — by utilizing a sweeping curveball that he wasn’t afraid to bounce in entrance of the plate due to his belief in veteran catcher Yadier Molina.

“Throwing to Yadi, the most effective catcher in baseball, was actually thrilling,” Quintana mentioned. “I simply comply with him. There are so many feelings pitching to him, however I favored it rather a lot as a result of we labored so effectively collectively tonight.”

To his credit score, Marmol has mentioned repeatedly that the Cardinals cannot fulfill their potential till they get the muscle-bound O’Neill swinging the bat like final season, when he surged into the highest 10 in NL MVP voting. On Thursday, O’Neill drilled a dangling curveball into the Cubs’ bullpen for a three-run residence run that broke a 2-2 tie. After hitting a career-best 34 residence runs final season, it was simply O’Neill’s sixth residence run — and his first at Busch Stadium since Opening Day.

O’Neill’s swat helped St. Louis swept the Cubs and caught the Brewers. Days do not get a lot better than that for the out of the blue surging Cardinals.

“The manner we take a look at it’s, this workforce shouldn’t be solely ready, however decided to do one thing particular,” Marmol predicted. “We received No. 4 [Molina] again, we have got a really excited clubhouse and beginning pitching that’s going to stabilize the rotation. The boys are on a mission to do one thing. Today was an amazing instance of that.”

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