Cardinals defeat Braves
3 games to 0
|Game||Date||Winning Team||Losing Team|
|1||Oct. 3||STL 7||ATL 5|
|2||Oct. 5||STL 10||ATL 4|
|3||Oct. 7||STL 7||ATL 1|
Managers: La Russa, Tony, STL; Cox, Bobby, ATL
Path to the NLDS: St. Louis (95-67) won the NL Central by 10 games; Atlanta (95-67) won the NL East by one game.
Even though it was a sweep, it was one of the "wildest" series of all time.
The Braves won their division for a ninth consecutive year (excluding the labor-stoppage 1994 season), clinching on the penultimate day of the season and relegating the Mets to Wild Card status again. Tensions were still high between Atlanta and New York, and when the Braves failed to make it a record ninth consecutive NLCS appearance, it opened the door for the Mets.
The Cardinals were awarded home-field advantage in this best-of-five series, due to their 4-3 advantage during the regular season, and it paid off immediately. St. Louis came out with six runs (five earned) off Greg Maddux in the first inning of Game 1.
Enter Rick Ankiel. Blessed with a six-run lead enter the third inning, he proceeded to throw five wild pitches and, according to broadcaster Jon Miller, was promptly inducted into "the wildness Hall of Fame." Ankiel threw 66 pitches over 2 2/3 innings, more than half (35) of them in that inning. The Braves scored four runs before he was removed, but the Cardinals still would go on to win, 7-5.
Ankiel's sudden control trouble would persist in the postseason, but he would find a second life in the Majors as an outfielder in the years to follow.
Led by Jim Edmonds (8-for-14 with two homers and seven RBIs), the Cardinals had little trouble with Bobby Cox's Braves. John Smoltz, a leader through the Braves' dominant '90s, had undergone Tommy John surgery before the 2000 season and was out all year. St. Louis clinched at Turner Field, keeping Atlanta out of the NLCS for the first time since 1991 and starting a new generation of Cardinals baseball, in which a postseason appearance was routinely expected.