Get out the brooms! Cards earn their 1st sweep of '24

Donovan's Little League homer, Winn's solo blast help St. Louis overpower Baltimore

May 23rd, 2024

ST. LOUIS -- To sweep the high-powered Orioles and end Baltimore’s streak of 106 consecutive regular-season series of two or more games without being swept, the Cardinals knew they might need something out of the ordinary to pull off the feat.

As it turns out, the Cards got the extraordinary with a Little League home run from gritty utility standout Brendan Donovan to take down the Orioles for the Redbirds’ first sweep of the season.

Donovan doubled in the tying runs in the sixth inning and then came all the way around to score on catcher James McCann’s throwing error as the Cardinals rallied for a 5-4 win over the Orioles in the series finale on Wednesday at Busch Stadium.

Following his double, Donovan tried to take third on the throw home, and McCann’s throw hit him in the neck and ricocheted toward the Orioles dugout. Donovan, who said he could hear third-base coach Ron “Pop” Warner yelling at him to score the whole time, raced home and belly-flopped across the plate where he could barely move because of fatigue.

“That was fun, man, and I think that was my first Little League homer,” Donovan said. “I couldn’t get up and I took a couple of seconds laying on home plate. That was fun, man, and what a fun series.”

Combined with Monday’s 6-3 win and the 3-1 victory in Game 2 of the series which was suspended on Tuesday and completed earlier on Wednesday, the Orioles were swept for the first time since May 2022, around the same time that star catcher Adley Rutschman got called up. The Orioles’ streak of 106 consecutive regular-season series of two-plus decisions without a sweep is the third longest in NL/AL history, trailing only the 124 straight regular-season series of two-plus decisions without a sweep by the 1942-44 Cardinals and the 115 sweep-less regular-season series or two-plus decisions by the 1906-09 Cubs.

The win was secured only after Lars Nootbaar made a retreating, leaping catch at the warning track in the ninth inning. Aware of what was happening as he made the catch, Nootbaar fired the ball toward first base to double up Cedric Mullins, who had already rounded second in hopes of scoring and tying the game. They didn’t even the score, but they did get a sac fly from Kyle Stowers, making it a one-run game. After this, the Cardinals induced a groundout from Gunnar Henderson to end the game.

“Heck of a play there, and to then get the double play was a big part of that game,” said Cards manager Oliver Marmol, who was ejected in the third inning while arguing balls and strikes after Nootbaar was rung up on eight pitches, three of which seemed to be off the plate.

Forced to dip deep into their bullpen after using Andrew Kittredge, JoJo Romero and All-Star closer Ryan Helsley to close out the victory in the suspended game earlier in the day, the Cards turned to John King, Kyle Leahy and Ryan Fernandez in the series finale. With starter Kyle Gibson’s start cut short by an 85-minute rain delay, King, Leahy and Fernandez covered five one-run innings.

Fernandez, a Rule 5 pick from the Red Sox who spent last season at three levels of the Minor Leagues, notched his first MLB save after getting Henderson to ground out to shortstop. Fernandez and bench coach Daniel Descalso, who managed in place of the ejected Marmol, got buggy rides into the shower where they were doused.

“Those guys got it so easy -- they just got cold water,” said rookie shortstop Masyn Winn. “I mean, I got beer, chocolate milk and mayonnaise. They just got cold water thrown on them, so they got it easy.”

Winn doubled and later scored in the fifth inning to extend his hitting streak to a personal best 13 games in games that he started. He then homered on a 0-2 pitch in the seventh inning to extend the lead -- a run that proved to be the winner.

Nolan Arenado, who was 2-for-4, got the sixth-inning rally started with a single. Orioles star shortstop Henderson mishandled a potential double-play ball in the sixth, setting the stage for Donovan’s double and hustling run that propelled the Cards.

“The way we’re playing, it’s Cardinals baseball of being very consistent,” said Winn, who has been a driving force both offensively and defensively in recent weeks. “Our pitchers picked up the hitters when we needed it, and the hitters picked up the pitchers when they needed it. As a team and a collective group, we’re doing really well. It’s super exciting. We got one sweep there and hopefully we can go for another one against the Cubs.”