The longest winning streak in St. Louis Cardinals history is up to 16 games. The Cardinals extended their historic winning streak with a 4-2 come-from-behind win (box score) over the rival Chicago Cubs on Sunday. The win combined with the Phillies losing to the Pirates (PIT 6, PHI 0) knocked St. Louis' magic number for a postseason spot down to one.
Chicago took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning Sunday, though Harrison Bader slugged a long solo home run to tie the score, then Andrew Knizner scored the winning run on Codi Heuer's wild pitch in the top of the ninth. The molten-hot Paul Goldschmidt went deep earlier in the game to get St. Louis on the board.
The Cubs threatened to tie the game in the ninth in extremely weird fashion thanks to an assist from the umpiring crew. With one out, both Austin Romine and Rafael Ortega drew walks. Frank Schwindel then hit a pop up down the third-base line. Nolan Arenado appeared to misjudge it for a second and when trying to get back to where the ball would land, he slipped and fell. The ball dropped onto the infield (watch the play here).
The umpires correctly called infield fly rule, which meant Schwindel was ruled out. Both baserunners advanced, which is totally legal, but Ortega ran past second base and was tagged when he wasn't touching a base. However, the umpire behind second base had called time before the tag with Ortega not on a base (view the tag with the umpire's hands in the air here). As such, the play was deemed over before the tag and the Cubs had runners at second and third with two outs. St. Louis manager Mike Shildt got ejected for arguing after the bizarre play, but Ian Happ ended up striking out on the next at-bat to end the game.
The 16-game winning streak is not only the longest in baseball this year, it is MLB's longest winning streak since Cleveland won an American League record 22 straight games in 2017. Prior to this streak, the Cardinals had never won more than 14 straight games in franchise history. Here are MLB's last five single-season winning streaks of at least 16 games:
- Cardinals: 16 games (Sept. 11, 2021 to present)
- Cleveland: 22 games (Aug. 24 to Sept. 14, 2017)
- Athletics: 20 games (Aug. 13 to Sept. 4, 2002)
- Royals: 16 games (Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, 1977)
- Yankees: 18 games (May 27 to June 14, 1953)
The Brewers, it should be noted, won 16 straight games spanning the end of 1986 and the start of 1987. They won their final three games in 1986 before famously winning their first 13 games in 1987. The Cardinals' 16-game winning streak is the longest in the National League since the Giants won 16 straight from Aug. 12-27, 1951.
St. Louis will look to push their winning streak to 17 games Tuesday, when they open a three-game home series with the Brewers. The Cardinals will clinch a postseason spot with their next win, or losses by the Phillies and Reds. Once they clinch, St. Louis will be locked into the second wild card spot because they can't catch the Dodgers.