St. Louis Cardinals’ Season Ends on Travis Ishikawa Walkoff Homer


The St. Louis Cardinals’ impressive postseason run ended on Thursday night with a 6-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants in Game 5 of the NLCS. Despite an impressive offensive performance against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner from a depleted Cardinals lineup, including home runs from Tony Cruz and Matt Adams, it wasn’t quite enough for the Cards to stay alive in the series.

Things got rough in the bottom of the ninth inning when Cardinals manager Mike Matheny chose to bring in pitcher Michael Wacha, who had not pitched during the entirety of the postseason. Though Wacha clearly had gained some benefits from the time off, getting up to speeds as high as 98 MPH, he had trouble getting the ball over the plate, as he threw only five strikes in 12 pitches.

After allowing a leadoff single into right field by Pablo Sandoval, Wacha recorded a one-pitch out against Hunter Pence. But then his command really fell off, and he gave up a four-pitch walk to ultra-disciplined first baseman Brandon Belt. After starting off in a 2-0 count, Travis Ishikawa ended the game and the series with a three-run walkoff home run.

It’s a really good story for Ishikawa, who spent almost all of 2013 and much of this season in Triple-A. After battling to make the Pittsburgh Pirates’ opening day roster as a non-roster invitee, the 31-year-old was quickly released and ended up signing a minor-league deal with his former club in San Francisco. After making it back to the big leagues in late July, Ishikawa took advantage of opportunities created by injuries to outfielders Angel Pagan and Michael Morse in order to secure a starting spot and have the most memorable performance of his career during the 2014 playoffs.

After a rather active offseason for the Cardinals last winter, things should be a bit more stable heading into 2015. We’ll see how patient and faithful the Cards’ front office is with the young players who got them to the NLCS this season.