An eight-game winning streak over seven days in mid-September broke open a tight division race and propelled the Cardinals to their first National League East title in 1982. From there, St. Louis swept the Braves in the league championship series and defeated the Brewers in a seven-game World Series.
On Sept. 14, the 1982 Cardinals were at a critical point in their season. In losing 2-0 the night before to Philadelphia and ex-Cardinal Steve Carlton, St. Louis had slipped out of first place, a half-game behind the Phillies. Boxscore
With two more to play at Philadelphia before heading to New York for a five-game series, including back-to-back twi-night doubleheaders, against the Mets, the Cardinals appeared to be in jeopardy of falling farther behind.
Instead, buoyed by spectacular pitching (including starts from a Mexican League reject and a 43-year-old left-hander), the Cardinals regrouped and won the next eight in a row from Sept. 14 through Sept. 20. The streak placed the Cardinals comfortably into first place, 5.5 games ahead of Philadelphia.
During the streak against the Phillies and the Mets, the Cardinals held their opponents to seven total runs in winning eight, seven on the road.
Here is how it happened:
_ Sept. 14 at Philadelphia, Cardinals 2, Phillies 0: Backed by catcher Darrell Porter’s two-run home run, John Stuper (7.1 innings) and Bruce Sutter combined on the shutout. In the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, Sutter got third baseman Mike Schmidt to bounce into an inning-ending double play.
“The eighth and ninth innings belonged to me,” Sutter said to the Associated Press. Boxscore
_ Sept. 15 at Philadelphia, Cardinals 8, Phillies 0: Joaquin Andujar, overcoming a bruised right knee, retired the first 12 batters and finished with a three-hit shutout, his fifth of the season. Right fielder George Hendrick drove in four runs, two with sacrifice flies.
“We still have a long way to go … We have to beat everybody, not just Philadelphia,” Andujar said to United Press International. Boxscore
_ Sept. 17 at New York, Game 1, Cardinals 3, Mets 2: Eric Rasmussen, who spent most of the season with Yucatan in the Mexican League, joined the Cardinals in September. Making his first big-league start since 1980, Rasmussen held the Mets to four hits and two runs in seven innings. Sutter relieved and pitched three scoreless innings for the win.
In the 10th, rookie center fielder Willie McGee doubled, driving in first baseman Keith Hernandez from second with the winning run. Boxscore
_ Sept. 17 at New York, Game 2, Cardinals 7, Mets 1: Steve Mura (5.2 innings) started and earned the win, his last as a Cardinal and his first in more than a month. Doug Bair pitched 3.1 innings of scoreless relief.
After sweeping a doubleheader started by the unlikely duo of Rasmussen and Mura, manager Whitey Herzog told the Associated Press, “My pitching has been good this year. I have no complaints.” Boxscore
_ Sept. 18 at New York, Game 1, Cardinals 2, Mets 0: Bob Forsch (7.1 innings) and Bruce Sutter combined on the shutout. David Green, getting the start in center field, hit a fourth-inning home run off ex-Cardinal Pete Falcone. Boxscore
_ Sept. 18 at New York, Game 2, Cardinals 6, Mets 2: Jim Kaat, 43, got the start, his first since June and the 625th and last of his major-league career. Kaat went three innings and limited the Mets to a run, a solo homer by catcher Bruce Bochy (now the manager of the Giants). Jeff Lahti pitched the last six innings for the win. Boxscore
_ Sept. 19 at New York, Cardinals 3, Mets 1: Stuper (6.1) innings and Bair combined on another gem, completing the five-game sweep.
“I never figured on taking all five,” Herzog said to the Associated Press. “Maybe three, possibly four, but never five.” Boxscore
_ Sept. 20 at St. Louis, Cardinals 4, Phillies 1: Hendrick’s two-run double during a three-run fifth knocked out ex-Cardinal John Denny. Boxscore
Seven days later, the Cardinals clinched the division championship with a 4-2 victory over the Expos at Montreal. Boxscore
The 1982 Cardinals received several outstanding individual performances in September. Among the best:
_ Andujar, 5-0 record, 0.81 ERA.
_ Bair, 2 saves, 1.65 ERA.
_ Hendrick, .341 batting average, .383 on-base percentage, 17 RBI.
_ Hernandez, .333 batting average, .438 on-base percentage, 13 RBI.
_ Sutter, 6 saves, 2.04 ERA.