Never. A. Doubt.
After nearly blowing a golden opportunity with the game-winning run on third and nobody out, the Cardinals walked-off Toronto thanks to a two-out, walk-off grand slam from Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the 10th inning. After four bad at-bats, Goldy had an epic opportunity to redeem himself — and boy did he.
Miles Mikolas had another quality start. The back end of the Cardinals’ bullpen was nails. Brendan Donovan had a game-saving catch in right field. Arenado had three hits to break out of a recent funk.
Things were looking hairy in the seventh, but the Redbirds rallied back at home. Here’s how it went down:
Blue Jays’ leadoff man George Springer led off the game with a strikeout, but Santiago Espinal’s single and Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s walk gave Toronto two runners on in the first inning. Mikolas was able to work out of it, inducing a shallow fly ball to right field from Bo Bichette and then a strikeout of Teoscar Hernandez to escape the threat.
Jose Berrios struck out the side on 14 pitches. Tommy Edman, Nolan Gorman, and Paul Goldschmidt all were sent packing without even putting the ball in play.
Mikolas was able to set the Blue Jays down 1-2-3 in the second inning to get his defense off the field quickly. Alejandro Kirk grounded out to Nolan Arenado at third, Matt Chapman hit a towering fly ball to Corey Dickerson in left (that he caught), and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. grounded out to Edman at short.
St. Louis got to Berrios in the second inning courtesy of a Brendan Donovan RBI double. Arenado led off the inning with a single, but Juan Yepez did not advance him as he flew out to shallow right. Donovan then worked the count full before pulling a ground ball down the right field line. Arenado was running on the pitch, and he scored all the way from first on the double.
Dickerson and Bader both flew out to Gurriel in left field to end the inning (stranding Donovan at second), but the Cardinals had taken their first lead of the game, 1-0.
Bradley Zimmer — sporting a crisp .136 batting average — led off the inning with a double off the center field wall that was about a foot short of being a homer. But the Blue Jays, who at .186 are the worst team in baseball hitting with runners in scoring position, could not move that runner at all. Springer struck out for the second time in two tries. Espinal grounded out softly to Arenado at third. Guerrero grounded out to Gorman at second base for the final out of the inning for Toronto.
Andrew Knizner, who is temporarily St. Louis’ starting catcher while Yadier Molina tends to a family matter in Puerto Rico, singled leading off the third inning. Edman struck out for the second time in two at bats for the first out. Gorman popped out in foul territory for the second out. Goldy struck out for the second time to end the inning.
Mikolas continued to work efficiently, setting down the Blue Jays in order on nine pitches in the fourth. He struck out Bichette, Hernandez flew out to Donovan in right, and Kirk hit a soft line drive to Gorman at second base.
The Cardinals got the leadoff man on in the fourth inning, but nothing came of it. Despite Toronto shifting to a four-man outfield against Arenado, he still was able to loop a single into shallow right field for a base hit. Yepez then popped out to Guerrero in foul territory for the first out. With one out and a full count, Arenado ran with the pitch and was thrown out stealing after Donovan took strike three at the knees. The strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play ended the fourth inning.
Toronto continued to struggle against Mikolas in the fifth. Chapman flew out to Donovan in right field for the first out. Gurriel popped out to Gorman at second base for out number two. Zimmer struck out looking on a fastball right down the middle for the third out.
The Cardinals followed the Blue Jays’ lead by hitting into three straight outs in the fifth. Dickeron flew out to Hernandez in right field, Bader grounded out to Chapman at third, and Knizner popped out to Guerrero in foul territory to wrap up the fifth inning.
After striking out in each of his first two at-bats, George Springer hit an absolute missile just over the left field wall for a solo home run that tied the game 1-1 in the sixth inning. His homer had an exit velocity of 113.6 mph and traveled 378 feet, about four rows into the seats.
Espinal flew out to Donovan in right field for the first out following the Springer homer. Guerrero hit a sharp ground ball towards the hole at short, but Edman made a spectacular diving play and made a strong throw to nail Toronto’s superstar at first base.
Bichette then hit a shallow fly ball in shallow right-center field that Donovan, Bader, and Edman all circled around, but Bader was able to record the out with a sliding catch.
Berrios had settled in pretty nicely by the sixth, and he carved up the Cardinals on just nine pitches to keep this game tied 1-1. Edman grounded out softly to Guerrero at first, Gorman flew out to Zimmer in center, and Goldschmidt struck out for the third consecutive at-bat.
Mikolas lost the zone a bit in the seventh — as did the bullpen behind him — allowing Toronto to take the lead. Hernandez grounded out to start the inning, and then Kirk singled on a seeing-eye single up the middle with one out. Chapman worked the count full and drew a walk, and then Gurriel flew out to right field, with Kirk tagging to third. Mikolas then hit Zimmer to load the bases with two outs, and his night was finished.
Marmol called the bullpen and it was Andre Pallante. With the bases loaded, Pallante walked Springer and Espinal back-to-back to bring in two runs, making it 3-1 Toronto in the seventh. Guerrero Jr. finally grounded out to third to end the Blue Jays’ half of the seventh, but by then Toronto had scored two runs on one hit, three walks, and a hit by pitch.
Mikolas’ final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K’s (99 pitches)
Arenado led off the seventh for the Cardinals and grounded out to Bichette at short. Yepez then launched his fourth homer of the season off a 2-1 sinker from Berrios, cutting the Toronto lead in half, 3-2. His homer nearly mirrored Springer’s from earlier, leaving the bat at 112.2 mph and traveling 376 feet.
Donovan then worked another great at-bat (is this guy just a left-handed Ryan Theriot? People are talking) and singled into left-center on the eighth pitch he saw from Berrios. After falling behind 1-2 and fouling off three straight pitches, Dickerson singled to center, with Donovan scooting around to third. Berrios was removed at this point in favor of the submarining right-hander Adam Cimber.
After taking three straight balls to start the at-bat, Bader hit a sharp ground ball into right field for an RBI single, tying the game 3-3. It was Bader’s 15th RBI of the season.
With runners on first and second and only one out, Knizner hit a weak grounder back to Cimber on the mound. Cimber was able to start the 1-4-3 double play to end the inning, but the two teams were knotted up 3-3 heading to the 8th inning.
Berrios’ final line: 6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K’s (102 pitches)
Despite primarily being deployed in save situations, Marmol made the move to bring in Giovanny Gallegos in a tie game in the eighth. Gio made quick work of Toronto, setting them down in order on 12 pitches. Bichette flew out to Donovan in right, Hernandez grounded out to Edman at short, and Kirk grounded out to Arenado.
Right-hander Trevor Richards took over on the mound for the Blue Jays and was able to put up a goose egg in the eighth inning. After a one-out Nolan Gorman walk, Goldschmidt grounded into an inning-ending double play started by the gold glover Matt Chapman at third base, 5-4-3.
After Gio pitched a scoreless eighth inning, Ryan Helsley and his 0.27 WHIP toed the rubber in the ninth. Chapman flew out to Bader in center field for the first out of the inning. Gurriel battled Helsley for eight pitches and finally drew a one-out walk — just the third walk Helsley has handed out this season. Raimel Tapia pinch-hit for Zimmer and struck out swinging, and then Springer — to shouts of “cheater!” flew out to left field to end the top of the ninth.
Toronto called on right-hander Julian Merryweather in the bottom of the ninth, and Arenado greeted him with a line-drive double on the second pitch of the at-bat that missed being a walk-off homer by maybe a foot.
[Danny Mac on the broadcast called it a walk-off homer, but when it banged off the top of the fence he had to retract]
Yepez was unable to advance Arenado, popping out to Guerrero in foul territory. Toronto intentionally walked Donovan to get to Dickerson and it paid off, as Dickerson grounded into a 4-6-3 double play on the first pitch he saw to end the ninth inning and send this one to extras.
Because MLB kept the ghost runner on second rule for extra innings, the Blue Jays began the 10th with Springer on second base. Genesis Cabrera was called on to hold things steady, and he got Espinal to fly out to center field for the first out. Cabrera then walked Guerrero intentionally, bringing up Bichette with runners on first and second and just one out. Bichette fouled off the first pitch he saw and then hit a fly ball into shallow right field. Donovan — who is an infielder by trade — made a potentially game-saving catch laying out for the looper, holding all the runners where they were.
Hernandez then grounded out sharply to Edman at short for the third out. Toronto was unable to score their ghost runner from second, and then the Cardinals were to get their opportunity.
David Phelps became Toronto’s fifth pitcher of the game when he entered in the 10th with Lars Nootbaar running on second base (pinch-running for Dickerson). After getting ahead of Bader 0-2, Phelps uncorked a wild pitch that went high and cleared his catcher’s head, allowing Nootbaar to advance to third with no outs. Bader struck out swinging for the first out.
And then the moment happened. Or.... the moment was supposed to happen.
Marmol pinch-hit Albert Pujols for Knizner, with the plan to plug in Ivan Herrera behind the dish if Pujols did not end the game with a walk-off swing right then and there. Phelps worked Pujols to a 2-2 count and then got him to waive at an outside cutter to strike out for the second out of the inning. Edman drew a five-pitch walk, which meant Gorman became the fourth Cardinal to have a shot at ending the game in the tenth inning with the winning run on third base.
The Blue Jays countered by calling on left-hander Ryan Borucki to face Gorman, so the Cardinals countered their counter by pinch-hitting Edmundo Sosa for Gorman. Borucki walked Sosa on five pitches to load the bases for Goldschmidt, who was hitting .500 vs LHP entering tonight’s contest.
Okay, okay. THIS was the moment.
After taking two balls that were both called strikes to run the count to 1-2, Goldschmidt wacked his seventh home run of the season into the left field seats, just sneaking it into the first row of seats for a grand slam. Before that at-bat, Goldschmidt was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a double play.
So after having multiple chances to score with the game-winning run just 90 feet away, the Cardinals opted to do it with the long ball anyway. Go figure.
FINAL: Cardinals 7, Blue Jays 3
St. Louis (24-18) goes for a sweep of the two-game set tomorrow night at Busch. Jordan Hicks (1-3, 4.21 ERA) is set to take the mound for the Cardinals in game two. Hicks allowed two earned runs over four innings in the Cardinals 11-4 loss to the Mets last Wednesday. Opposing him from the Blue Jays (22-20) will be 2021 All-Star right-hander Kevin Gausman (3-3, 2.52 ERA). First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m.
Around the Central
Pirates 2, Rockies 1 - Cardinal-killer Yoshi Tsutsugo’s RBI infield single gave the Pirates a 2-1 lead in the 8th inning.
Cubs 7, Reds 4 - Tommy Pham homered for the Reds, who are 12-29.
Brewers 2, Padres 1 - Bottom 5th
WARdle #75 - 7/9