ST. LOUIS -- Another decade is winding down, and the Cardinals have had their share of success in the 2010s.
There was the 2011 World Series title. The two National League pennants, four NL Central division titles and six postseason appearances. The Cardinals played 1,690 games (regular season and postseason) from 2010-19 and won 934 of them.
Let’s relive the top 10 games of the decade:
1. ‘We will see you tomorrow night’
Oct. 27, 2011
It was a game for the ages. A game that sealed St. Louis native David Freese’s fate as an October hero. How could this not be No. 1? The 2011 Cardinals overcame all odds to make it to what was a riveting World Series against the Ranges. In Game 6, the Rangers led 7-5 and were an out away from winning the franchise’s first title. Then Freese -- who had hit .545 in the NL Championship Series -- stepped to the plate with two runners on base. His two-strike triple off the right-field wall tied the game. Josh Hamilton’s two-run home run gave the Rangers the lead in the 10th, then Ryan Theriot brought the Cards within one and Lance Berkman tied it again with a two-out, two-strike single. In the 11th, Freese won the game with a homer to center field -- prompting Joe Buck to say, “We will see you tomorrow night” -- and forced Game 7, which the Cardinals won for their 11th World Series title.
2. Carpenter vs. Halladay
Oct. 7, 2011
The signature moment of 2011 was Game 6 of the World Series. But there were stops along the way that catapulted the Cardinals to their championship, and Game 5 of the NLDS against the Phillies was one of them. A pair of aces, Cy Young winners and longtime friends took the mound against each other, and the pitching duel at Citizens Bank Park lived up to the hype. The Cardinals won 1-0 after scoring a run off Hall of Famer Roy Halladay in the first inning, and Chris Carpenter did the rest, with a three-hit shutout in 110 pitches. Brilliant as Halladay was that day -- one run in eight innings -- Carpenter outpitched one of his closest friends. Carpenter and Halladay were both drafted by the Blue Jays and went through the Minor Leagues together. They were fixtures in Toronto’s rotation in the early 2000s before Carpenter moved on to St. Louis, overcame arm injuries and won his Cy Young in 2005.
3. An historic comeback
Oct. 12, 2012
The defending World Series champions were down to their last strike twice in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS against the Nationals. They refused to give in and put together one of the biggest comebacks in postseason history. The Nationals scored six runs off Adam Wainwright in the first three innings, but the Cardinals refused to let their season end. When Wainwright left the game, he asked his infielders to pick him up. And sure enough, the Cardinals crawled their way back and were down 7-5 heading into the ninth. Daniel Descalso drove a two-out, two-run single that silenced the crowd at Nationals Park. Then rookie Pete Kozma followed with another two-run single, and the Cardinals’ four-run ninth was the largest rally ever in a postseason game.
4. Wacha’s gem
Oct. 9, 2013
Michael Wacha was only 16 months removed from the 2012 Draft. He was making his 10th big league start. And he almost made history. Facing elimination in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Pirates in 2013, Wacha spun 7 1/3 dazzling innings of one-hit ball in a sold-out PNC Park that tried its very best to rattle the rookie on the mound. It didn’t. Wacha had a no-hitter going -- his second consecutive dance with a no-hitter -- until Pedro Alvarez launched a solo homer in the eighth inning. On this night, Pirates starter Charlie Morton matched Wacha, zero for zero, until Matt Holliday’s towering two-run homer in the sixth. It gave the Cardinals the eventual 2-1 victory and sent the series back to St. Louis, where Adam Wainwright’s complete game gave the Cardinals an NLCS berth.
5. Pujols’ three-homer World Series game
Oct. 22, 2011
If Game 6 of this World Series was a game for the ages, Game 3 was a performance for the ages. Albert Pujols became the third player in history to homer three times in a World Series game, joining Babe Ruth, who did it twice, and Reggie Jackson. Pujols’ 14 total bases set a new World Series record, while his five hits and six RBIs tied records. After pitching duels in St. Louis for the first two games, the Cardinals ransacked the Rangers, 16-7, in Game 3. The first Pujols homer was a three-run shot that slammed into the second deck in the sixth inning. The second was a two-run, first-pitch shot to left-center in the seventh. And the third and final punch to the Rangers was Pujols’ two-out solo blast in the top of the ninth. The 2011 season was Pujols’ last in a Cardinal jersey, after 11 unrivaled seasons. One of his final acts, the best single game ever in World Series history, was a fitting way to end.
6. Cards stun Kershaw
Oct. 3, 2014
Clayton Kershaw was bulldozing the Cardinals lineup. It was the sixth inning of Game 1 of the NLDS and Kershaw had mowed down 16 consecutive Cardinals. The Dodgers were up 6-1, and everyone outside the Cardinals dugout was thinking about how St. Louis might come back in Game 2. But when Matt Carpenter hit a solo homer in the sixth, the Cardinals dugout was stirring. And in the seventh, they unleashed their offense that was nonexistent against Kershaw, the 2013 Cy Young winner and eventual 2014 winner. The Cardinals scored eight runs in the seventh, taking the lead and holding off the Dodgers to win 10-9. Nobody had seen a comeback like it, at least not against Kershaw. And in Game 4, the Cardinals tagged Kershaw with three runs in the seventh inning to win the series.
7. It’s gotta be the salsa
July 20, 2018
Halfway through the 2018 season, Matt Carpenter began making homemade salsa. It got him cooking at the plate, too. The third baseman had slashed .140/.286/.272 in his first 140 plate appearances, but he experienced a turnaround and credited it to the salsa he was now bringing to the ballpark.
The Cardinals’ visit to Wrigley Field in late July was the first time Carpenter brought a jar of salsa on the road, and it paid off. Carpenter became the first player in franchise history -- and just the second in Major League history -- to hit three home runs and two doubles in a game. He did it all in the first six innings in the Cardinals’ 18-5 win over the Cubs. Carpenter became the first Cardinals leadoff hitter since Augie Bergamo in 1945 to drive in seven runs, and he tied Lou Brock's franchise record with his 21st career leadoff homer. Fourteen years to the date that Pujols hit three homers at Wrigley Field, Carpenter joined him as the only Cardinals with that many in a single game against the Cubs.
8. Adams makes history
Sept. 4, 2013
Matt Adams didn’t start this early September game against the Reds in Cincinnati, but he ended it. Adams was a mid-game sub for an injured Allan Craig, and he homered twice in extra innings to give the Cardinals a 5-4 win. Adams became the first Cardinal ever to hit two home runs in extra innings. The then-rookie slugger was hitless in his previous 14 at-bats before replacing Craig in the fourth inning, and it climbed to 0-for-17 before the 14th inning. That’s when he launched his 10th homer of the season. After the Reds tied the game in the bottom of the 14th inning, Adams came to the plate in the 16th and laced a fastball down in the zone straight to center field. It revitalized Adams and the Cardinals, who held on in the bottom half of the inning for the win.
9. Back-to-back homers part of an all-time series
Sept. 21, 2019
The NL Central was one of the tightest races down the stretch in 2019, and the results would largely depend on what happened in the seven games that the Cardinals and Cubs played over the final 10 days of the season. The first four came at Wrigley Field, and the series lived up to the hype as the Cardinals won four, one-run dramatic games. In the third game, Chicago and St. Louis traded runs until the bottom of the seventh, when the Cubs took the lead, 8-7, on a solo homer and kept that lead until the top of the ninth, when closer Craig Kimbrel -- who allowed the game-winning homer in the 10th inning of the first game of the series -- entered. On his first pitch, Yadier Molina ripped a homer to left-center. Tie game. On Kimbrel’s second pitch, Paul DeJong launched his own solo shot. Kimbrel was stunned. The Cardinals dugout exploded. Carlos Martínez escaped the ninth, and the Cardinals won, 9-8. Their win the next day gave them a postseason berth and pushed the Cubs further away from October.
10. Martínez pitches a gem for Taveras
May 31, 2015
At one point during his warmup, while the Busch Stadium scoreboard played a tribute to the late Oscar Taveras, Carlos Martínez wasn’t sure he could pitch that day. The Cardinals were honoring Taveras on the one-year anniversary of his Major League debut. His family never saw their son play in St. Louis, but they were honored on the field before watching Martínez, who wears Taveras' No. 18 as a permanent tribute to his best friend, pitch. As Martínez wiped away his tears and walked to the mound, he channeled his emotions into one of the best starts of his career. The right-hander threw seven shutout innings against the Dodgers, limiting them to one hit, in the Cardinals’ 3-1 win. After Martínez’s eighth strikeout of the day to end his outing, Molina flipped the ball to Taveras’ family sitting next to the Cardinals dugout.
Anne Rogers covers the Cardinals for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @anne__rogers and on Facebook.