By Patrick Kelly
The St. Louis Cardinals were looking like they were going to sweep the San Diego Padres. In the sixth inning with a four-run lead, the Cardinals started going back to their relievers, Genesis Cabrera and Giovanni Gallegos. Cabrera came in and walked two, immediately getting a mound visit and a pitching change. Then Gallegos came in and Cardinals fans saw the last thing they were expecting. He allowed back-to-back home runs, the first a three-run shot by Fernando Tatis Jr. scoring the two batters that were walked followed by a solo shot from Manny Machado to tie the game 6-6.
Going into the seventh, the Redbirds couldn’t get anything done offensively and in the bottom half, Daniel Ponce De Leon came in replacing Gallegos. Facing his first batter, Wil Meyers hit a home run off a 1-2 count to give the Padres their first lead of the series. They followed right away with another bomb by Tatis, this one a two-run shot, increasing their lead to 9-6. The Cardinals tried to fight back, getting two in the top half of the eighth, but the Padres answered back with two of their own, leaving a lone Cardinals run scored in the ninth to make the final 11-9.
As has been expected, this series was split and is going to a Game 3. What was not expected was the Cardinals being in command, but instead they let the Padres’ big guys become the heroes of Game 2. With the Cardinals leading, it seemed like they were able to reuse some of their relievers from Game 1, but unfortunately that failed and now Cabrera as well as Gallegos will probably not be a good option Friday. On the plus side, Alex Reyes only threw 19 pitches in Game 1 and should be a solid option late in Game 3.
This ended up being the game where the Padres offense finally went off. On paper, their offense was much more productive going into the postseason and they just outplayed the Redbirds Thursday night. Friday will once again be a game where the Cardinals will have a lot of questions to answer. Jack Flaherty will be starting on the mound and with his limited play this year, he will need to find his former self to get the Cardinals started early. The offense needs to change nothing in the early innings; they are getting on the board early and making the Padres play from behind which unfortunately they are very comfortable doing. The key for the Cardinals will be shutting down the Padres in the middle innings where they got back in the game Thursday. If Flaherty can be his normal self and the offense can add a couple home runs, the Cardinals should be set in the deciding game.