One of the great things about baseball–about most sports, really–is that redemption doesn’t necessarily take that long. You can have a terrible night but come through in a big moment in the end and you are a hero.
Or Hero, in this case. Paul Goldschmidt started off last night 0-4, which is remarkable given just how hot he has been as of late. He struck out his first three times and when he did finally make contact in his fourth at bat, he hit into an inning-ending double play. If the game had ended in regulation, he would have been in contention for the Goat. Instead, in the 10th David Phelps couldn’t quite put the Cardinals away. He struck out Harrison Bader and Albert Pujols with the zombie runner Lars Nootbaar on base (on third after a wild pitch), but then he walked Tommy Edman–which used to be a hard thing to do, but his walk rate this year is 10.7%, well above his career high in the pandemic-shortened 2020 of 7.0%.
The Jays then went to Ryan Borucki, a lefty, since Nolan Gorman was up. Oli Marmol managed this one, folks. I only got to see the last couple of innings but there wasn’t a lever he didn’t pull trying to get this thing to come up Cardinals. I’m not saying all the choices necessarily were right–I’m not sure exactly the thought process behind hitting for Andrew Knizner with Albert Pujols against a righty, unless he thought AP was more likely to get it in the air–but this felt like a Tony La Russa game and I don’t know when the last time was you could say that. Anyway, Marmol pulls Gorman and sends up Edmundo Sosa. Borucki has trouble with the command and winds up walking Sosa to load the bases for Goldschmidt.
I had no idea how incredibly deadly Goldschmidt had been against lefties this season until the broadcast brought it up. He was hitting .517 against them (granted, a small sample of 31 plate appearances) and when Borucki tried to go back to the same well where he got a couple of strikes early in the at bat, those numbers went up. A walk-off grand slamma (as Danny Mac would and did say) means that this season, Goldy has hit three home runs in 32 plate appearances against left-handers, a .536/.594/1.071 slash line. He has over 100 more plate appearances against righties and only one more homer. Nine of his 15 hits against southpaws have been for extra bases. At this rate, teams may make sure he never faces another lefty all season!
Baseball’s a team game, though, and the Cardinals don’t get to the moment where Goldy can win it without some significant contributions. Brendan Donovan made an outstanding catch in the top of the 10th with two runners on to make sure they didn’t go anywhere. He also doubled in the first run of the game and was in the middle of the rally to tie the game in the seventh, singling after Juan Yepez homered to make it a 3-2 game and coming around to score on Bader’s single. Injuries in the outfield open up some other options for him to play but wherever they put him, Donovan needs to be in the lineup regularly.
You had the bullpen taking that seventh inning tie and making sure the Cardinal hitters could have a chance to win it. Giovanny Gallegos threw a perfect frame, Ryan Helsley walked a batter but stranded him, and Genesis Cabrera‘s only blemish was an intentional pass of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., which was a pretty smart idea given the situation.
If it wasn’t for our Goat, the bullpen would have been unassailable. However, Andre Pallante had another one of his rough nights. Miles Mikolas had a typical Miles Mikolas start. As he entered the seventh, he’d given up a home run to George Springer to tie the game but that was about it. After getting the leadoff batter in the seventh, though, he gave up a single, a walk, a flyout, and hit a guy, leaving the bases loaded with two outs. Mikolas was at 99 pitches and you have to give Marmol some credit for not trying to push Mikolas through the frame since there was just one out remaining.
For the most part, Pallante is solid. He’d not walked anyone in his last two outings. The one before that, though, he walked three batters and only retired one. Unfortunately, this was more like that appearance. He walked Springer on five pitches, putting the Jays ahead, and then walked Santiago Espinal to bring in another run before getting Vlad Jr. to ground out. It brought back some really bad memories of last season, when you always felt like a bases-loaded situation was going to end that way.
The only downside to Goldschmidt walking things off was that it meant we didn’t get to see the debut of Ivan Herrera. Yadier Molina had to go home to be with his son who was about to have arm surgery, so the Cards called up the young prospect. When Marmol hit for Knizner, Herrera was set to come into the game in the 11th. I am sure someone could tell me, but I don’t know the last time a rookie Cardinal made his debut in extra innings. I would expect Herrera will start today, especially since Molina will be back by the end of the week.