'Creating our own luck': 11 straight for Cards

Club 4 1/2 ahead in 2nd WC spot with longest win streak in 20 years

September 23rd, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- As launched a fly ball deep to the wall in the second inning on Wednesday night, inched back toward second base.

Watching Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain running further and further toward the wall, Bader moved closer and closer to the bag until he stepped on it and got in position to take off on the catch. Cain made the grab as he crashed into the wall, and after he landed on the warning track dirt, he tossed the ball to right fielder Avisaíl García to relay it to the infield. All the while, Bader was motoring around third and heading for home.

had already scored on the play, and Bader made it all the way home without a throw. Edman’s two-RBI sacrifice fly was the first for a Cardinals hitter since Albert Pujols in 2009, and along with home runs from and and seven strong innings from , it helped the Cards pull away en route to a 10-2 win at American Family Field.

“I think the more important thing about that, even if I did get thrown out there, is just the aggressiveness and continuing to just push the tempo,” Bader said. “We're here to play, we're here to compete. That was a good one for us.”

If you couldn’t tell how well things are going for St. Louis lately, just think about that play: Cain made a catch jumping into the wall, a Statcast-rated four-star grab, and yet the Cardinals managed to get two runs across the plate.

Things are going so well, in fact, that the best way to quantify it is this: the Redbirds have now won 11 straight games -- their first 11-game winning streak since Aug. 9-19, 2001 -- and have gone from three games out of the second National League Wild Card spot before the stretch to 4 1/2 games ahead of all other challengers.

“I think that everybody has a mentality that all that matters at the end of the day is wins,” Bader said. “It's been a long season for everybody -- every season is a long season -- and you kind of get to a point when you really do see the light, especially when playoffs are being spoken about, where your personal desires to maybe put a little extra on a swing or maybe go for it with two strikes and abandon the two-strike approach -- all those things kind of go out the window, especially when all that matters is, after nine innings, getting a ‘W.’”

“Guys are feeling good, and that's appropriate and nice and they should enjoy it,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “It's about keeping the gas down, staying hungry and staying ready to get after it tomorrow.”

Bader said that the Cardinals have been good about creating their own luck thanks to the hustle they go into every play with, and there were plenty of examples of that beyond Edman’s sac fly on Wednesday.

• Of St. Louis’ five doubles on the night, at least a couple of them were base knocks that the Cardinals converted into hustle-doubles.

• Though his back tightened up on him afterward, causing him to be pulled before the bottom of the fifth, went into an all-out sprint from near the shortstop position to make an over-the-shoulder catch in left-field foul territory before diving onto the tarp.

• Even when Bader came up too short attempting to make a diving catch on Cain’s line drive to center in the third, Bader still managed to get a glove on the ball and keep it from rolling all the way to the wall for a likely inside-the-park home run.

So yeah, just about everything is going the Cardinals’ way lately. But Bader believes it’s because of what they’ve done behind the scenes that the wins are now rolling in.

“Because of our aggression going into the game, because of our repetition on all sides of the ball, because of our preparation, I think we're creating our own luck,” he said. “I think that we're just riding that for as long as we can.”

And with the team on the cusp of securing a trip to the postseason, seemingly everyone is producing at a high level to make it happen.

“You make a little snowball on top of the mountain, you push it down and it just keeps picking up snow, getting bigger and bigger,” Mikolas said. “I think that's a little bit of a metaphor for what we're doing right now.”