Gun arm pitching and home run batting helped the St. Louis Cardinals clinch the team’s first divisional title in years in Missouri on Sept. 29.
The Cardinals defeated the Chicago Cubs 9–0 during a home game at Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, securing the team’s first National League Central divisional victory since the year 2015.
Cardinals Pitcher Jack Flaherty, 23, fired a total of 69 pitches across an impressive seven innings and only gave away two hits and walked a batter.
Many of the 47,212 spectators at the sold out venue went crazy and would not stop yelling until Flaherty emerged from the dugout to tip his cap after he had warmed up on the deck circle to replace retiring Pitcher Harrison Bader.
“I was in shock, not sure what to do,” Flaherty told AP. “That’s for hitters. I wasn’t expecting anything like that.”
This season, Flaherty only allowed seven runs over his past 12 starts. He had a low 0.91 earned run average after finishing the all-star break.
“He continues to be amazing,” Cardinals First Baseman Paul Goldschmidt told the Associated Press (AP).
Goldschmidt, who was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2018, scored three hits and even slugged his 34th home run at the game, achieving a new career milestone.
“For just this reason,” he told AP, “my fondest memories in baseball are the celebrations. To accomplish this goal as a team, it’s great but we have to keep going.”
St. Louis scored twice in each of the first of two innings against Cubs Pitcher Derek Holland, with Goldschmidt hitting a single after Holland walked the first two batters.
Outfielder Dexter Fowler, who has achieved 19 home runs in his career, scored a two-run homer in the game’s second inning, giving the Cardinals a 4–0 lead.
Infielder Matt Carpenter also hammered a long ball in the third inning from Cubs Pitcher Duane Underwood Junior, lifting the score to 8–0.
Rival Infielder Ben Zobrist later pitched for the Cubs, striking out Cardinals Catcher Yadier Molina to end the eighth inning.
The Cardinals have won or shared 12 division titles since the year 1995.
“This is what it’s all about,” Cardinals Manager Mike Shildt told AP. “I love to see the guys enjoy the fruits of their labor—it’s something special.”
Cubs manager Joe Maddon has confirmed he will not return to lead the team next year.
“I’ve been able to hold it together pretty well,” Maddon told AP. “It was very cool.”
Cubs Outfielder Kyle Schwarber said he is going to miss Maddon.
“He changed the culture of the organization—108 years and he breaks the curse,” Schwarber told AP.
St. Louis (91-71) finished three games better than last season (88-74) while Chicago finished 84-78 after a 95-68 mark in the year 2018.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.