Lucky squirrel inspires Cards to down Tigers

AP, DETROIT, Michigan

Tue, Sep 11, 2018 - Page 16

The St Louis Cardinals on Sunday needed something to get them going against the Detroit Tigers.

Out of nowhere — again — a squirrel appeared.

In an episode sure to revive St Louis fans’ memories of the 2011 Rally Squirrel, Sunday’s game at Comerica Park was scoreless going into the seventh inning. That is when a squirrel took up residence between second and third base.

There was a delay and, with some prompting from the Tigers infield, the critter moved into foul territory and eventually made its escape in right field.

The Cardinals wound up scoring five times in the inning and avoided a series sweep with a 5-2 victory.

“I don’t think you can discount that factor,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “The squirrel shows up and we score five runs. We only had six in the whole series before that.”

During the 2011 National League Division Series, a squirrel cut across the diamond at Busch Stadium, running right past home plate during a game against Philadelphia.

The Cards went on to win the playoff series and later the championship — their World Series rings even depicted a squirrel.

“I don’t necessarily believe in superstitions like that,” said Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong, who had a hit in the seventh. “Maybe you could call it the ‘Rally Squirrel.’”

The Cardinals lost the first two games of the series in walk-off fashion and did not have a baserunner until the sixth against Michael Fulmer.

St Louis, who have a one-game lead for the second National League wild-card spot, won for the third time in eight games.

“You never want to get swept by anybody,” said Kolten Wong, who drove in the Cardinals’ first run. “We knew they could be dangerous, because they have nothing to lose, and they gave us a battle. Luckily, we were able to get one.”

Detroit’s four-game winning streak was snapped.

John Gant (7-5) allowed two runs on five hits and a walk in 6-2/3 innings. He struck out six.

“I knew I really needed to bear down, because we needed this game,” Gant said. “I had to go out there and give my best effort.”

Carlos Martinez pitched the ninth for his second save.

After the game, Shildt said Martinez would replace Bud Norris as the team’s closer.

Fulmer (3-11) was perfect through five innings, but only got four more outs. He allowed five runs on five hits and three walks in 6-1/3 innings, striking out five.

“He was cruising and then everything fell apart behind him,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We didn’t make a couple plays, we dropped a ball and they found a bunch of holes. I don’t think they hit a ball hard off him.”