ST. LOUIS -- From May 30 to July 18, it took the Cardinals 40 games to win 16. Over a span of 18 days starting on Sept. 11, they won 17 games ... in 17 tries.
The Cards packed a full season's worth of moments and memories into this historic win streak, one ended at 17 following Wednesday’s shutout loss to the Brewers. It's the longest streak in franchise history and the longest in the National League since the 1935 Cubs. But most important, it catapulted the club into the postseason.
These are the best moments of the streak:
12. The beginning
Wins 1 and 2, Sept. 11-12, vs. CIN
Entering Sept. 11 -- the first win of the streak -- the Cardinals had never enjoyed a comeback victory on the season of at least four runs. That changed when Nolan Arenado connected for a two-run blast in the eighth inning against the Reds, catapulting the Cardinals to their first of 16 consecutive wins. Arenado keyed win No. 2 as well, with his first swing the next day proving the only two runs the Cardinals needed for a shutout win over the Reds that sent their division foes spiraling.
11. Noot goes and gets it
Win 5, Sept. 15, at NYM
Plug any player into this streak and they seem to have a viral moment or come up with a big hit. Lars Nootbaar got his to wrap up the sweep in New York, leaping at the perfect time, tongue outstretched and all, to rob Pete Alonso of a three-run homer that would have made it a one-run game. Instead, the Cardinals coasted to victory and returned to Busch Stadium with their streak intact.
10. The makings of Devil Magic?
Win 8, Sept. 19, vs. SD
Few highlights are included in this moment (most notably, a lowlight for Fernando Tatis Jr.), but the series sweep over the Padres felt like the first time the Cardinals could do no wrong. An innocent flyout to Tatis was booted, and the Cardinals went on to score five runs in the first inning, staving off a San Diego comeback to stow away their rivals for the NL Wild Card. If the Devil Magic they talk about is real, it was evident in this play.
9. Milestone haven
Win 9, Sept. 20, at MIL
There wasn't much drama in this one, as the Cardinals scored first and never looked back. But it included some special marks: Arenado's first-inning blast made him the first Cardinal with 100 RBIs since 2012 and Jon Lester's victory was the 200th of his career, milestones for two players central to St. Louis' rebound.
8. The returns of Jack and Dak
Win 14, Sept. 24, at CHC
It was fitting was with whom the Cardinals used to tie the 1935 Gashouse Gang’s franchise-record 14th consecutive win, as Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty returned for the game. Both are long thought to be integral components of competitive Cardinals squads, but lengthy injury absences (one planned, one a surprise) dashed such hopes. No matter. They returned in time to return the club to full health and leave their mark on the franchise-tying win. They hope to do even more in October.
7. Carlson's salami
Win 6, Sept. 17, vs. SD
Dylan Carlson, with a swing of the bat against the Padres, became the first Cardinals rookie with multiple grand slams in a season. The second one secured a rout; the Padres rattled off a pair of runs an inning prior, but Carlson's bases juiced blast gave St. Louis an 8-2 advantage and his first truly marquee moment. He was beckoned to a curtain call and responded with a chef's kiss.
6. The homer-happy confines
Wins 13-16, Sept. 24-26, at CHC
The offense was immaculate for the Cardinals at Wrigley Field, with balls off the bat of Harrison Bader, Tyler O'Neill and Paul Goldschmidt leaving Wrigley Field at a torrid pace. In all, St. Louis set its franchise mark with 13 long balls in a four-game set. Among the highlights: a 464-foot blast from Goldschmidt for the second-longest by a Card this season (he also owns the longest), two from Nootbaar in the twin bill nightcap and one especially scorched long ball from O'Neill, who hop, skipped and jumped his way out of the box.
5. It's a rout in Milwaukee
Wins 11 and 12, Sept. 22-23, at MIL
If the Devil Magic wasn't alive with Tatis' blunder, it sure was in these two games. Among the wins: Bader scored from second as one of two RBIs on a sacrifice fly in win No. 11 and the Cardinals, behind Adam Wainwright's 2,000th strikeout and two home runs from Goldschmidt, rebounded from a first-inning Brewers grand slam the next day to score eight unanswered runs en route to a super sweep of their Wisconsin rivals.
4. The Play, part one
Win 4, Sept. 14, at NYM
Defense has been central to the Cardinals' streak, and that took place with an epic moment in an epic game. With a walk-off win for the Mets 90 feet away, Goldschmidt collected a grounder off the bat of Francisco Lindor, stepped on first base for the second out of the inning and threw home to Yadier Molina, who, with Arenado, caught Kevin Pillar in a rundown for the final out of the 10th inning. The Cardinals would score three runs in the 11th for victory, but no moment was more central to that series win than this defensive wizardry.
3. O'Neill does it for the boys
Win 7, Sept. 18, vs. SD
With the 2011 World Series team in town, it was already a magical evening at Busch Stadium. But O'Neill ensured it would be one to another level. His prodigious game-winning two-run blast in the eighth inning was part of a three-run rally that propelled the Cardinals to a come-from-behind dramatic victory. It was O'Neill's biggest swing of the season, and he provided fans with an equally viral moment in his postgame presser.
2. The clinch
Win 17, Sept. 28, vs. MIL
The streak was only sweet because of what it produced: the chance for St. Louis to compete in October. That was solidified during a 6-2 win over the Brewers that was also the final victory of the streak. There was no defining moment (though Arenado homered to bookend the streak). Rather, it was the full-team culmination that was celebrated -- on the field and in the form of beverage showers in the clubhouse.
1. The Play, part two
Win 15, Sept. 25, at CHC
Sometimes, the sequel bests the original. In this iteration, nursing a one-run lead with runners on the corners and only one out, T.J. McFarland induced a ground ball to Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt fired home to Molina, who threw to Arenado in a rundown for the first out. Chaos then broke loose, with the entire outfield flocking in to help and Bader throwing to Paul DeJong for the final out. The full-team aspect and defensive acumen of this streak was never more on display than in this moment and win, which set the club record.