The Cardinals have never lost a postseason game in San Diego. Here’s a look back on some memorable moments in this match up
SAN DIEGO — I think it’s pretty safe to say that Padres fans aren’t exactly thrilled with the postseason version of the St. Louis Cardinals they’ve come to know.
In their 50 years of existence before this season, the Padres had made the postseason five times. Twice they reached the World Series. The other three times, the Cardinals eliminated them in the Division Series.
And oh yeah, in those three series the Cardinals never lost in San Diego.
Let’s take a look back at those three postseason series before the Cardinals and Padres rekindle their playoff angst in 2020.
1996 NLDS – Cardinals sweep Padres
The first time the Cardinals and Padres met in the postseason was the only time St. Louis reached the playoffs in the 1990’s, and was Tony La Russa’s first year the the helm.
The Cardinals were able to take the first two games at home with strong starts from Todd Stottlemyre and Andy Benes, and then headed out to the coast for Game 3.
And in that Game 3, it was one of the most exciting Cardinals players of the ’90s who came up biggest.
Game 3 was tied 5-5 in the ninth inning, when Brian Jordan launched a two-run home run off Hall of Famer and the man with the second most saves in baseball history, Trevor Hoffman.
Another Hall of Famer in Dennis Eckersley finished it off and the Cardinals swept the Padres before eventually falling in 7 games to the Braves in the NLCS.
2005 NLDS – Cardinals sweep Padres
This juggernaut Cardinals team just feasted on Padres pitching in 2005. scoring an average of seven runs over the three game NLDS.
Albert Pujols hit .556 in the series with an OPS of 1.470, but it was a sometimes underrated member of that team who had the biggest blast.
Outfielder Reggie Sanders’ Game 1 grand slam off Jake Peavy set the tone for the entire series, and sent Busch Stadium into an absolute frenzy. Sanders hit .333 that series and drove in a ridiculous 10 runs in three games. That’s as many as the rest of the Cardinals combined.
The Cardinals advanced to the NLCS that season where they would eventually lose to the Houston Astros in 6 games.
2006 NLDS – Cardinals win series 3-1 over Padres
Even though the Padres won just one game, this series has technically been the closest match up between St. Louis and San Diego in the postseason.
It also provided some classic moments.
Both of the most notable moments came in the first game of the series in San Diego. And wouldn’t you know it, the first moment was against Jake Peavy once again.
Albert Pujols stepped to the plate in the fourth inning of a scoreless game with Chris Duncan on second. He hit a weak pop up around home plate, but future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza dropped it. Every Cardinals fan knew exactly what was coming next. Pujols deposited a pitch from Peavy into the bleachers to give the Cardinals a 2-0 lead to kick off the series and set the tone.
The other big moment in this series came on defense in Game 1, from an unlikely source.
Ronnie Belliard was acquired midway through the Cardinals’ 2006 campaign, and became the team’s primary second baseman down the stretch. The Cardinals had a 5-1 lead in the 7th inning, helped by the aforementioned Pujols home run, but the Padres were threatening. San Diego had loaded the bases against Tyler Johnson and were looking to seize momentum.
Todd Walker stepped up and hit a hard ground ball that looked like it would find the hole between first and second base. But then Belliard made the play of the year to get a glove on the ball, pick it up and throw while falling backwards on his knees to Pujols to get the third out and keep the Padres off the scoreboard, and the Cardinals won the game 5-1.
It was after that game the Cardinals center fielder Jim Edmonds began giving out “game balls” in the 2006 playoffs, and Belliard got the first one. Belliard actually had a nice overall series against the Padres, hitting .462 and driving in two runs in four games.
The Cardinals went on to win the NLCS against the Mets in a dramatic 7 games, and beat the Tigers for the franchise’s 10th World Series title.