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Cardinals claim 2022 NL Central crown, fourth consecutive playoff berth

Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Baseball

MILWAUKEE — The first goal the Cardinals set for themselves in spring training, the gateway goal that would get them into the postseason and closer to achieving their loftiest ambition, is also the one Nolan Arenado has brought up several times in recent weeks as a reminder.

What the Cardinals do regularly, he’s yet to do in his career.

Until now.

Nine-time Gold Glove winner, seven-time All-Star, and perennial MVP candidate, Arenado is now a first-time division champion. He has the t-shirt to prove it.

It will likely need to be washed.

With a win as definitive as their lead in the division, the Cardinals claimed the National League Central crown Tuesday night with a 6-2 victory against second-place Milwaukee at American Family Field. The Cardinals earn their fourth consecutive playoff berth and will enter this year’s expanded format as the third seed into the NL playoffs.

 

By claiming the season series against the Brewers, the Cardinals earned the tiebreaker for the division title, their 13th shared or outright title of the NL Central. Since the division was created in the mid-1990s and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.’s group began ownership, the Cardinals have more NL Central titles than the other four teams currently in the division combined. The Cardinals have won 16 division titles since MLB cleaved the leagues in halves and then thirds.

“It will be the first time I’ve been a part of a team that won a division,” said Arenado, who was part of last year’s wild-card Cardinals after spending eight years with Colorado and behind the Dodgers. “Having a chance to win the division. That’s what I envisioned (coming to St. Louis).”

The Cardinals seized control of the division in early August, flipped a four-game deficit into a four-game lead in less than three weeks, and have not trailed in the standings since. The steadfast starter who played a part in both the Cardinals first-half hold and second-half surge, Miles Mikolas pitched six superb innings and struck out nine. Fresh off a West Coast swing that featured most of their runs coming from homers, the Cardinals doubled-down on the damage against Milwaukee. Dylan Carlson doubled twice and scored in the first six innings, and four of the Cardinals’ five early rallies hinged around a double.

Before Mikolas (12-13) allowed a hit the Cardinals had a four-run lead. Before he allowed a run on a solo homer, the Cardinals were well on their way to unboxing the Champagne. Plastic would soon be going up in the clubhouse to protect whatever hangs in their lockers. The decal for the latest division title would have to be delivered.

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