The Cardinals mauled Carlos Rodon on Sunday Night Baseball in front of a nationally televised crowd, Albert Pujols pitched, and Yadier Molina smacked a 417-foot homer all on the way to a 15-6 victory over the Giants.
Adam Wainwright returned from the COVID-IL and pitched six strong innings, but he had plenty of breathing room as St. Louis pounded out 15 runs on 17 hits in a series-clinching win Sunday night. Every starting position player had a hit. Six Cardinals had multiple hits. Pujols reached base four times and raised his OPS nearly 100 points. It was a big party from the get-go at Busch Stadium as the Cardinals embarrassed San Francisco on ESPN.
The Redbirds wasted no time getting on the board against Rodon, scoring two runs by the time the Giants’ lefty had thrown three pitches. Here’s how it went down:
Wainwright baffled San Francisco with the old Uncle Charlie early on, punching out two Giants in a scoreless first inning. LaMonte Wade Jr. struck out swinging, Brandon Belt grounded out to Tommy Edman at second, and Wilmer Flores was caught looking at strike three to end the inning. Both strikeouts came on the classic Wainwright curveball.
St. Louis mauled Carlos Rodon in the first inning. Edman led off with a single to right field, and Paul Goldscmidt obliterated a first-pitch fastball into Big Mac Land to make it 2-0 Redbirds just three pitches into the game.
Nolan Arenado flew out to left field for the first out, but Juan Yepez followed him up with a single to right field, past a diving Flores at second. Albert Pujols followed the Yepez single with his second double of the season — a sharp line drive that he pulled just inside the the third base line — advancing Yepez to third. Molina, like Pujols, jumped on the first pitch he saw from Rodon, smacking an 86 mph slider into center field to score Yepez and Pujols to make it 4-0 Cardinals (Molina was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double). Dylan Carlson then struck out to end the first inning.
Wainwright danced around the edges of the zone in the second inning and the Giants worked a walk, but other than that it was a clean, scoreless inning. Joc Pederson flew out to Harrison Bader in center to start the inning and then Mike Yastrzemski drew a one-out walk. But Evan Longoria flew out to Carlson in right field and Brandon Crawford struck out swinging to end the Giants’ half of the second.
The Cardinals went 1-2-3 in the second inning. Bader hit a sharp fly ball to Yastrzemski in center field that he caught for the first out, and then both Edmundo Sosa and Edman struck out to end the second inning.
Luis Gonzalez — who had a very good series against the Cardinals last week — grounded out to Goldschmidt to kick off the third. Joey Bart then worked an eight pitch walk, Wainwright’s second of the night. Wade Jr. struck out on a generous strike three call that looked well outside, but we won’t tell anybody. Belt recorded the third out by flying out to Bader in center, stranding Bart at first.
St. Louis struck again in the third against Rodon, starting with a bloop double by Goldschmidt. Wade Jr. did not get a good jump on the fly ball with the sun in his eyes, and despite the dive, he came up just short. Arenado then flew out to Gonzalez in foul territory down the third base line for the first out of the inning. Yepez then drew a five-pitch walk, reaching base for the second time in two at-bats. With runners on first and second, Pujols ripped a 98 mph fastball into center field for a single, scoring Goldschmidt and making it 5-0 St. Louis.
Yastrzemski’s throw went to third rather than home, and Yepez was out by a mile for the second out of the inning. Molina then grounded into a force out at third, as Longoria threw to second for the force out on Pujols to end the third inning.
The Giants went down 1-2-3 in the fourth inning on 14 pitches. Flores hit a sharp line drive to left-center field that Yepez — who is not traditionally an outfielder — made a nice running catch on. Pederson then grounded out to Edman at second, who was shifted into shallow right field. Yastrzemski struck out looking for the third and final out.
The Cardinals broke it open in the fourth inning by scoring four more runs and chasing Rodon before he could complete four innings. Carlson blooped a single to left to kick off the inning. Bader grounded into a forceout for the first out of the inning, with Longoria going to second base to erase Carlson. After Bader swiped his eighth base of the season with a steal of second, Sosa’s single to left brought him home to make it 6-0.
Edman popped out to Belt at first base for the second out. Goldschmidt then hit a fly ball down the right field line that dropped and rolled into the corner, giving Goldy his second double of the day and scoring Sosa from first to make it 7-0 Redbirds. That was the run that chased Rodon, and Gape Kapler went with right-hander Zack Littell out of the bullpen.
Rodon’s final line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 3 K’s (70 pitches)
Littell inherited the runner on second and he scored quickly when future NL MVP Arenado smacked the second pitch he saw from the right-hander into the left-field seats for his eighth homer of the season. Yepez then flew out to deep left field to end the inning, with Gonzalez making the catch on the warning track.
The Cardinals entered the fifth inning with a 9-0 lead.
The Giants finally got their first hit of the game in the fifth inning. Longoria flew out to Carlson in right field to lead off the inning. Crawford then hit a similar fly ball to Bader in center field for out number two. Gonzalez ripped a first-pitch cutter into left-center field for a single with two outs, but Joey Bart killed the inning with a popout to Goldschmidt in foul territory (Goldy made a very nice, over the shoulder basket catch while running with his back to the infield).
The “old guys” jumped on Littell in the fifth, with Pujols drawing a leadoff walk — his third time reaching base in three plate appearances. Molina then yanked an 0-1, inside fastball into the left field seats, over the bullpen. Molina’s second homer of the season was hit with an exit velocity of 107.8 mph, his second-hardest hit ball of the Statcast era. His 417-foot homer made it 11-0 Cardinals in the sixth.
Carlson and Bader both grounded out, and then Sosa slapped an 0-2 Littell slider into center for a single. He was stranded there when Edman grounded out to second to end the inning.
Wade Jr. and Belt both flew out to Yepez in left field for the first and second outs of the inning. Flores then doubled on a weak line drive down the left field line that Yepez chased up against the wall. Pederson promptly broke up the shutout by hammering his seventh home run of the season into the right field seats, cutting the Cardinals’ lead to a measly nine runs. Yastrzemski grounded out sharply to a shifted Sosa at second base to end the Giants’ half of the sixth.
Wainwright’s final line: 6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB’s, 5 K’s (96 pitches)
27-year old rookie right-hander Yunior Marte took the mound in the seventh and immediately got Goldschmidt to fly out to center. Arenado then worked a one-out walk. Yepez singled to left field — his third time reaching base this evening — which moved Arenado to second. Pujols then worked a walk, reaching base for the fourth time in four plate appearances. Knizner pinch-hit for Molina with the bases loaded and singled to right field on the first pitch he saw, driving in two runs and making it 13-2 Cardinals.
After four straight Cardinals reached, Carlson flew out to Gonzalez in left field for the second out of the inning. Bader then singled to left, loading the bases again for Sosa. The aforementioned Sosa grounded out sharply to Crawford at short to end the inning, leaving the bases juiced.
T.J. McFarland replaced Wainwright after six quality innings fresh off the COVID-IL. Longoria greeted McFarland with a base hit to left field leading off the seventh. Thairo Estrada pinch-hit for Crawford and struck out, and then Gonzalez grounded into an inning-ending 5-6-3 double play (Sosa was shifted over and covered on the double play, kind of funky).
Edman led off the seventh inning with a walk, and Dickerson (pinch-hitting for Goldschmidt) flew out to left field. Brendan Donovan (who had replaced Arenado defensively in the seventh) drew a walk, moving Edman to second. Yepez flew out to left field for the second out. Pujols then reached on an error by Longoria, loading the bases. A Knizner hit by pitch forced in a run to make it 14-2, and Marte’s night was over.
Gabe Kapler decided to bring in a position player (Gonzalez) to pitch rather than burn any more arms, and Carlson singled to right field to drive in another run and make it 15-2. Bader flew out with the bases loaded to end the seventh inning.
Drew VerHagen took over in the eighth inning and put up a zero. Curt Casali worked a two-out walk, but Bart grounded out, Wade Jr. flew out to left, and Flores popped out to Knizner in foul territory.
Gonzalez started lobbing pitches in like slow-pitch softball, topping out in the upper 40s on most pitches. Sosa grounded out to short, Edman reached on a throwing error by the “pitcher” Gonzalez, Dickerson popped out to Flores at second base, and Donovan grounded out to Casali at first base.
Pujols — yes, Albert Pujols — took over on the mound with a 15-2 lead. It was Pujols’ first career pitching appearance. He spoke on SportsCenter after the game and said, “They asked for somebody to volunteer to go out there and do it and I said why not? They said are you sure? And I said sure, why not!”
Pujols gave up a two-out, three-run homer to Gonzalez, who ironically enough was pitching for the Giants on the other side (so a position player gave up a homer to another position player who was also pitching). Joey Bart then hit a two-strike homer to make it 15-6, but Wade Jr. grounded out to third to end the game. Sadly, Pujols does not get a save.
The Cardinals (19-15) head east to start a four-game series vs the New York Mets (23-13) at Citi Field on Monday night. Miles Mikolas (3-1, 1.49 ERA) is on the bump in game one and will look to improve on his already stellar start to the season. Opposing him will be longtime Pirate but current Met Trevor Williams (0-2, 5.73 ERA), who has pitched infrequently this season with only five appearances. First pitch is set for 6:10 p.m.
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Aussie aussie aussie!