Chris Taylor’s timely departure lifts Los Angeles Dodgers against St. Louis Cardinals in NLDS

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There really is nothing like October baseball.

Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers was no exception. Outfielder Chris Taylor hit a home run to lead Cody Bellinger and advance the Dodgers to the NLDS to face the San Francisco Giants, who won this year’s NL West race by one game.

Taylor became the fifth player in MLB playoff history to hit a home run in a win-win game.

Before Wednesday? Edwin Encarnación last achieved the feat of crowning the 2016 AL Wild Card.

The Dodgers entered the wildcard game with a few notable feats to consider.

For starters, they are making their ninth consecutive playoff appearance, the third-longest playoff streak of all time, after winning 106 games in the regular season. No team in MLB history has ever won more games and finished first in their division or league. Their 106 wins are also tied for the second most all-time by a defending champion, behind only the Philadelphia Athletics of 1931.

On the other hand, the Cardinals’ winding road to the playoffs was very different. On August 6, when their playoff odds hit a 1.3% low, according to FanGraphs. In September, those odds fell to just 5%, after their streak of 17 consecutive wins. St. Louis’ 21-6 record in September fueled their playoff run after playing just four of 0.500 games from April through August.

The unique stretch of the two teams set the stage for an exciting ending as the Dodgers continue their title defense.

This Wild Card game marked the first time in playoff history in which each starting pitcher’s team has won in their last eight or more starts.

The Cardinals entered it after winning 13 of Adam Wainwright’s last 14 starts, including eight straight wins. The Dodgers are now unbeaten in 12 starts for St. Louis native Max Scherzer since being traded to the Washington Nationals in July.

That said, Scherzer also only lasted 4 1/3 innings against St. Louis on Wednesday, marking his second shortest stint with his new team. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights of NL wild card action.


In good company

On Wednesday night, Juan Soto, the star of the national championships, made a surprise appearance at Dodger Stadium to support his former teammates, Trea Turner and Scherzer.

The trio won the 2019 World Series together when the Nationals outscored the Houston Astros 4-3. Soto and his batting coach, Kevin Long, appropriately wore the Turner and Scherzer Nationals jerseys.

Soto also had to remind the local crowd that he was on his side.

Local legends Magic Johnson and Eric Dickerson, who enjoyed Hall of Fame careers with the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Rams, were also in attendance for the showdown.


Break the shutout

Unfortunately for Dodgers fans (including Soto), the Cardinals managed to get on the board first, and Wainwright’s reflexes were fully visible.


get revenge

The Dodger’s first score of the night was courtesy of Justin Turner, extending his own playoff franchise record to 13 home runs. Turner threw a Wainwright curve ball into the back of the LA reliever box and tied the score at 1-1 in the fourth inning.


Capture the log drought and go home

Before Taylor’s hit, Bellinger stole second place as wide receiver Yadier Molina struggled to grab the ball in time. The Dodgers’ victory gave the team their 16th in a row at home, extending the longest streak in franchise history.

This is the longest winning streak at home for any MLB team since the Houston Astros in 2004 won 19 straight wins (including the playoffs).

From the Giants’ perspective, the 2,535 games played between these rivals are the most important in MLB history between opponents before facing each other in the playoffs.


ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this story.



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