Wednesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Pirates 5
By Rob Rains
Paul Goldschmidt has had a pretty good vantage point to watch what Tyler O’Neill has done for the Cardinals the past five games.
He watched as O’Neill hit another homer in the fifth inning on Wednesday, then in the seventh, it was O’Neill’s turn to watch as Goldschmidt trotted around the bases after blasting a three-run homer that carried the Cardinals over the Pirates at Busch Stadium.
Goldschmidt’s homer turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 advantage and could, perhaps, turn out to be one of the biggest hits of the season.
“Who knows what’s going to happen,” Goldschmidt said. “It all depends on how we play the rest of the year.”
For one day, however, it was the hit the Cardinals needed for a win, especially coming less than 24 hours after losing a game they believed they should have won.
Goldschmidt came up with one out and runners on first and second and was thinking more about getting a hit to bring in the tying run than trying to hit a go-ahead homer.
“I knew a base hit would tie the game and I thought if I could get on base maybe he (O’Neill) could drive me in,” Goldschmidt said.
Instead, it was Goldschmidt who provided the big blow.
“A three-run homer is pretty much everybody’s best friend,” said manager Mike Shildt. “I knew that when I was learning my ABCs.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: O’Neill had an RBI single in the first inning and after striking out with the bases loaded in the second, hit his fifth homer – and fourth in the last five games – to pull the Cardinals within a run … Goldschmidt’s homer, his 18th of the year, was only his second with more than one runner on base … The other run scored in the second on a sacrifice fly from Jose Martinez … Tommy Edman hit leadoff again and reached base three times on two singles and a walk and scored twice … Andrew Knizner, after going 0-of-10, recorded the first hit of his career, a double, in the second … Paul DeJong was dropped to sixth in the lineup but still had a tough day, going 0-of-4 and striking out twice. Since June 18, for the last month, DeJong is 13-of-87, a .149 average, with just two extra-base hits, both doubles, and three RBIs.
On the mound: The Pirates knocked out starter Daniel Ponce de Leon with a three-run fourth inning, taking a 4-2 lead. Ponce de Leon had allowed only three runs in a combined 21 2/3 innings in his four previous starts this season … Dominic Leone got the final out of the inning, stranding two runners, and the relievers combined to retire 13 consecutive batters before Carlos Martinez gave up a leadoff single in the ninth. Martinez allowed three hits and a run in the inning, but stranded the tying run on third for his sixth save.
Key stat: In the five games that O’Neill has started in the cleanup spot, he has driven in 11 runs. Over those same games, the rest of the Cardinals combined have 11 RBIs, six of them from Goldschmidt.
Worth noting: The updated SABR defensive index rankings for the first half of the year were released on Wednesday. These rankings are used in part to determine who wins the Rawlings Gold Glove. In the current rankings, Kolten Wong leads all NL second basemen and Harrison Bader is ranked as the top defensive center fielder, while DeJong is second among the league’s shortstops. Yadier Molina is currently ranked fourth among catchers … A single by Chris Archer in the third inning snapped a streak of 35 consecutive hitless at-bats by opposing pitchers against the Cardinals that dated back to a home run by the Mets’ Steven Matz on June 14. Archer followed that with another single, driving in a run, in the Pirates’ three-run fourth.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will begin a four-game series in Cincinnati and an eight-game trip on Thursday night. Dakota Hudson will get the start. The trip also includes a four-game stop in Pittsburgh.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains