NL Central Champs!!

(Busch Stadium) Behind the dominant pitching of Jack Flaherty and big day at the plate from Paul Goldschmidt, the St. Louis Cardinals captured the National League Central Division with a 9-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

“Everybody showed up, everybody was awesome,” Jack Flaherty said. “The play Tommy made, Pauly with the hustle to get Contreras, keeping him off the bases. I mean, everybody came to play from the get go. It was fun. Everybody came to play, that was a total team effort.”

The Cardinals improve to 91-71 on the season, capturing their 12th NL Central title since the division was formed in 1995. St. Louis will now face the Braves in Atlanta on Thursday, October 3rd in Game 1 of the NL Division Series.

“It feels great,” Yadier Molina smiled. “Great to be back in the playoffs. Awesome. We did it together. This team has heart. We battled all year, ups and downs and finally we met our goal to win the division. We’re celebrating. This is awesome.”

After a pair of lead-off walks to Dexter Fowler and Tommy Edman, Paul Goldschmidt put the Cardinals on the board with a single up the middle to score Fowler. Edman then scored on a Marcell Ozuna double play to make it 2-0 after one inning.

One frame later, Flaherty singled with two outs and Fowler (19) then launched a fastball 430 feet away into the left centerfield bleachers to make it 4-0.

The Cardinals added four more runs in the third as Ozuna drove in Goldschmidt before Matt Carpenter (15) parked a three-run shot into the St. Louis bullpen.

Goldschmidt capped the scoring with a solo home run (34) in the fourth inning.

“I remember when I made it the first time and the veteran guys said don’t take it for granted,” Goldschmidt shared. “You can’t really appreciate that until it happens. Getting another chance a couple years ago and now again, I’m not taking it for granted. I’m just so appreciative. You’re working really your whole life, but especially the off-season and all season. It could’ve been one random game in April, May or June that we were able to hang onto. Just a good win today and hopefully we’ll be able to keep it going.”

The win was the 14th shutout of the season for St. Louis and gives the Cardinals a winning record against every NL Central opponent for the first time since 2015.

Flaherty improved to 11-8 on the season and needed only 69 pitches to scatter two hits in his seven shutout innings.

Scheduled to bat in the bottom of the seventh, Jack stood in the on-deck circle but was then called back for pinch-hitter Randy Arozarena. The crowd took advantage of the opportunity and rose to their feet with an ovation–and then curtain call for Flaherty, who was pushed up on the steps by Adam Wainwright and other teammates.

“Very interesting, I was not ready for that,” Flaherty admitted. “I knew I was done, but Shildty sent me out and then called me back. Yeah, it was not something I expected. I was not going to go back out, but they really didn’t give me a choice. That was something else.”

The seven shutout innings from Flaherty lowered post All-Star break ERA to 0.91, the third best in MLB history. He fanned six batters for 231 strike outs, moving him past both Sam Jones (1958) and Bob Gibson (1966) for sixth place in Cardinals single-season history.

NEARLY 3.5 MILLION

–The St. Louis Cardinals have announced a season attendance of 3,480,393 for 2019–the fifth highest total in franchise history. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers drew more fans this season than St. Louis, which registered 22 sell outs and averaged 42,968 per home game.

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