Cardinals get 'revenge' vs. Braves 23 years later

October 11th, 2019

It took 23 years, but the Cardinals got their "revenge."

In Game 7 of the 1996 National League Championship Series, St. Louis was on the cusp of reaching the World Series for the first time in nine years. Then the Braves pummeled the Cards, 15-0, advancing to the World Series for the fourth time in five seasons (not counting the strike-shortened ‘94 campaign).

But in Wednesday’s Game 5 of the NL Division Series, the Cardinals were the ones to deliver a drubbing in a winner-take-all contest against the Braves, advancing to the NLCS with a 13-1 victory. As far as “revenge” games go, this one certainly ranks up there.

With the Nationals' 7-3 win over the Dodgers in 10 innings, the Cardinals will have home-field advantage in the NLCS.

Since that 15-0 Braves win in ‘96, the two teams had only met four times in the postseason prior to this year’s NLDS: a three-game Cardinals sweep in the 2000 NLDS, in which the largest margin of victory was six runs in Games 2 and 3, and the 2012 NL Wild Card Game, a 6-3 Cardinals win.

What the Braves’ blowout victory in 1996 did not have, however, was a 10-run first inning, which the Cardinals posted Wednesday to take the air out of SunTrust Park in a hurry.

The Cardinals have had their share of lopsided postseason elimination-game losses in their storied history, which includes 11 World Series titles. Prior to the loss in Game 7 of the 1996 NLCS, St. Louis lost Game 7 of the 1985 World Series to the Royals, 11-0.

But none of that mattered Wednesday, because St. Louis is four wins away from the World Series.

Parallels abound

There are a lot of similarities between the deciding games of the 1996 NLCS and this year’s NLDS between the two clubs.

Same city: NLCS Game 7 in 1996 was also played in Atlanta, and two nights earlier at Busch Stadium, the Braves routed St. Louis in Game 5, 14-0. It was a rough week for the Cardinals, one they wouldn’t avenge until Wednesday.

Loser of the series had a chance to put it away: Atlanta led this year’s NLDS, two games to one, with a chance to close out the Cardinals before it reached an elimination situation Wednesday. Similarly, the Cardinals had a 3-1 series lead in the 1996 NLCS, and dropped three straight to Atlanta after being 27 outs from a pennant.

A pair of first-year managers: In 1996, Tony La Russa was in his first year managing the Cardinals after leading the A’s to three American League pennants and a World Series championship from '86-95. This year, Mike Shildt is in his first full season managing St. Louis, though he did manage the club for 69 games following the dismissal of Mike Matheny last year.