Saturday’s Game Report: Cardinals 9, Phillies 4
By Rob Rains
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt used his pre-game media zoom on Saturday to present analytical evidence that his team’s offensive performance so far this season has been better than traditional measures would indicate.
All that was missing, Shildt said, was the reward. A couple of hours later, at least for one day, they got it.
“The proof is in the process,” Shildt said after the game. “We have good processes. We stay with them. We are not naïve if they are not good, but we are very confident with our processes that are positive.”
Yadier Molina hit two of the Cardinals four home runs in the win over the Phillies in Philadelphia, becoming the first player in franchise history to be involved in back-to-back home runs twice in the same game.
He hit a three-run homer in a six-run third inning, followed by a homer from Paul DeJong, and then Molina followed a two-run homer by Nolan Arenado with his second homer in the fourth.
“He’s getting good pitches to hit and he’s looking to do damage,” Shildt said of Molina. “He’s putting good swings on it.
“He’s a multi-generational talent. Yadi will figure out a way, based on competition, which he thrives on and welcomes and embraces. He figures out a way on every turn and has a way and the ability to beat the other team, whether it’s with his mind calling a game, whether it’s blocking and throwing, whether it’s swinging the bat … the guy’s a really good player.
“I’ve always thought of Yadi like an assassin. He’s always looking for that opportunity to take you down.”
Since moving into the cleanup spot on April 11, Molina has gone 6-of-20 with five RBIs in five games. He also became the first Cardinals catcher to have three extra-base hits while batting cleanup since Ted Simmons did it on June 22, 1979. Simmons also had two homers and a double in that game.
“Today we continued to battle and stayed focused and we got the win,” Molina said. “We needed this win; whatever it takes.”
Here is how Saturday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The six-run third began with two outs and nobody on base. Paul Goldschmidt singled and Arenado walked in front of Molina’s homer. Dylan Carlson capped the inning with an RBI double, his first of his two hits in the game … Molina doubled in the sixth inning, allowing him to match his career-high of 10 total bases. He also had two homers and a double in games in 2017 and 2019. This was the eighth two-homer game of his career. He popped out in his final at-bat in the eighth … Every Cardinals starter except Austin Dean and Kwang Hyun Kim had at least one hit, and Dean drew a pair of walks … Tommy Edman’s infield single in the fifth extended his career-best hitting streak to 12 games … The four home runs extended the Cardinals streak with at least one home run to 17 consecutive games in Philadelphia, dating back to 2015, the longest streak ever by a visiting team.
On the mound: Kim lasted just three innings in his first start of the season, his outing shortened by a long first inning when he had to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam, allowing one run. He gave up two more runs in the third. Kim left for a pinch-hitter after throwing 68 pitches; the team was planning to limit him to about 75 … The bullpen was forced to cover the final six innings, with the Cardinals using five relievers to get the last 18 outs. Jordan Hicks got five of the outs, the most he has gotten in a game this season.
Key stat: Molina’s four homers have come in his first 13 games of the season. He hit four in his first 12 games in 2018 when he hit his career-high six homers in April.
Worth noting: The Cardinals drew eight walks to go along with their 11 hits … The two statistics that Shildt referenced in his pre-game session were the percentage of hard-hit balls, which he said was the highest in the majors, and exit velocity, where he said they ranked fourth … As expected the Cardinals optioned Kodi Whitley to the alternate site camp on Saturday before activating Kim, who returned to the rotation after missing two starts. Whitley had thrown 42 pitches in Friday night’s game.
Up next: John Gant will get the start on Sunday in the final game of the series.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains