In an alternate universe you wouldn’t think 2 teams could have the same 9th inning

The Cardinals flew into Washington DC late last night after an emotional loss to their bitter rival Chicago Cubs.

The Nationals and Cardinals both had similar fates to end their games yesterday as both teams had the beginnings of promising 9th innings with walk-off possibilities in an incredible coincidence of 9th inning situations.   Both teams had the exact same outcomes with their 1st 3 hitters against the other team’s closer as both the Nationals and Cardinals opened the bottom of the 9th inning with back-to-back singles to put runners at 2nd and 1st with no outs.

The Cardinals were behind the Cubs in a thriller trailing 9-8. They had the right man up in Yadier Molina just like the Nats did in Ryan Zimmerman. Yadier Molina would strike out just like Ryan Zimmerman did in huge spots that seemed to suck the air out of their respective stadiums. You could say those strikeouts were the beginnings of the end.

Yadier Molina has no walk-off home runs in his career, and Ryan Zimmerman has 10 which is why Cardinal fans thought Molina was due yesterday just like Nats fans dreamed of walk-off #11 for their Mr. Walk-off. Both veteran players would fail where they weren’t even able to create a productive out to move up the runners.

ryan zimmerman yadier molina and Zim hits 3 run HR

The 2 veterans share much in common as they have only played for one team their entire careers and each is the last remaining player from the rosters they debuted on over a decade ago. In 2009, Zimmerman and Molina were teammates on the same All-Star roster along with Jayson Werth (Phillies) and Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox) was on the AL roster.

Yadier and Ryan were on opposite ends of that Game 5 playoff game in 2012. Yesterday, they both felt the same agony of defeat with the similar fate in the 9th inning as each came up empty for their team with the scorekeeper ‘K’ next to their names.

Today, the Cardinals and Nationals will begin a 4 game series in Nationals Park. The Nationals are in 1st place in the NL East and the Cardinals are trying to stay relevant in the playoff hunt where their chances appear to lie in a Wild Card as the red hot Chicago Cubs look to sew up the NL Central.

The projected starters for each team are:

Game 1 (tonight): Mike Leake and Joe Ross
Game 2 (Friday): Jaime Garcia and Max Scherzer
Game 3 (Saturday): Adam Wainwright and Gio Gonzalez
Game 4 (Sunday): Michael Wacha and Stephen Strasburg

The weather will warm for each game as temperatures should be 80ºF to high 80º’s for each start. The stakes will be high for each team with bigger aspirations for win totals in the 90’s.

Molina and Zimmerman will be in opposite dugouts with similar goals and hopes to make up for the shortfalls of days like yesterday and others days that have passed as they try to forget, as in baseball, sometimes a short memory is a good thing.

An old quote but a good quote from Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny with different context, “A team that has character and talent, it’s a tough force to stop. Character is developed through adversity… There were plenty of excuses for these guys to make. They have intentionally decided not to go the route of the excuse, just come out and play the game.”

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