My lack of vocalization saved me $35. At least temporarily.
When Matt Adams, or as we call him due to his myriad of nicknames around the Internet, Big Fill-In-The-Blank, stepped to the plate in the seventh inning with a blank on the scoreboard but two runners on the pond, I almost remarked to my wife, “If he hits a home run here I’m buying his t-shirt.” Mainly because my wife only has a casual interest in baseball and it would have taken more explanation than it was worth, I didn’t say anything. But I kinda felt it coming. (Sounds like I wasn’t the only one.)
A pitch later, 47,000 in the park and many more watching at home broke out dancing as the blank on the scoreboard got filled in the biggest and best way.
Because that’s the way the Cardinals do it in October, right? The big guy who has struggled against everyone recently and against lefties for his whole (major league) career yanks a pitch from the best lefty currently active over the wall to give his team the lead. That could be a defining highlight for some organizations. The Cardinals have to squeeze to find room for it. (I mean, it’s big, but it’s not bigger than home runs by David Freese, Jim Edmonds or Albert Pujols….and that’s just in the last 10 years!)
They say baseball is a game of inches and the seventh inning proved that axiom true yet again. As big as that home run was by Adams, he’d have probably been up with the bases empty and two out had the batter prior to him, Jhonny Peralta, hit his ball half an inch farther left. Hanley Ramirez got his glove on it, but it wasn’t solidly enough and it bounced off the lip of the glove into the green grass of the outfield. If that ball is caught, we’re probably talking about Game 5 right now.
Kudos are due to Shelby Miller as well. A year after being skipped in the postseason almost entirely, Miller made his first postseason start and did so in fine fashion. For five innings he matched the reigning and likely repeating Cy Young winner, putting zeroes up on the board and not laboring to do so either. The sixth was a little different and he was unable to hold the gap at 1-0 with the bases empty, but you can’t fault Miller at all for what he gave the club. If he can do that and go a little deeper against the Giants, he might pick up his first postseason win.
Speaking of postseason wins, do you think the Cardinals are going to label Marco Gonzales the vulture? St. Louis won three games in this series and Gonzales got his name next to two of them, pitching three innings in exchange for those two win tallies. Yes, pitcher wins mean little and especially in the postseason, but I’m betting the rookie finds that pretty cool nonetheless.
As for Clayton Kershaw, that’s a tough way to go out. Just like in Game 1, he proved that the Cardinals don’t necessarily have him figured out, but they were able to do enough when it mattered, getting to him when he tired. If Don Mattingly trusted his pen, this might be a completely different series (though, to be fair, it’s unlikely he’d have done anything different yesterday other than maybe starting the seventh with a different pitcher). Instead, the big money team goes home and the team apparently nobody in America but Cardinal fans wants to see moves on.
A couple of personal observations. First, I’m loving the emotion that these guys are showing in these big moments. Both Adams and Kolten Wong on Monday night skipped around the bases, riding that high and not being afraid to show it. St. Louis gets this reputation as a “no fun” team, that you have to do things “the right way”. There’s a respect for the game in that clubhouse, sure, but you tell me those guys aren’t having fun. Watching Adams after that home run, well, you’ll believe a big man can fly.
The other observation goes along with that. Would a no-fun team think of adding water guns to the mix for a celebration? That’s got to be the best addition to postseason parties since champagne. I imagine those guns won’t work all that well after being used to shoot beer across the clubhouse, but I’m thinking they were one-time use anyway. They’ll buy more to use after the NLCS if necessary!
There will be time to look ahead to the rematch of the 2012 NLCS soon. No doubt us here at The Conclave will be breaking it down over the next few days and I know it’ll be a topic when Chris Mallonee and I talk on UCB Radio (tonight, 10 PM CDT, Blog Talk Radio). Right now, though, it’s time to revel in what has happened. You can’t live in the past, but that doesn’t mean you can’t savor it!