Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Pirates 3
By Rob Rains
This is the kind of streak Matt Carpenter could really learn to love.
After a month filled with streaks that consisted of how many at-bats or games in a row Carpenter had gone without a hit, after the same kind of streaks in spring training, Carpenter started a different kind of streak in the opener of the Cardinals’ series in Pittsburgh.
One day after hitting a pinch-hit three-run homer on Thursday, Carpenter did it again on Friday night. His three-run, pinch-hit homer in the sixth inning sent the Cardinals to the win over the Pirates.
Carpenter became the first player in franchise history to hit a pinch-hit home run in consecutive games. The last Cardinal to homer in consecutive pinch-hit at-bats was Ken O’Dea in 1944, but the home runs were separated by four games.
The home run came on 0-2 pitch.
“Typically if I am talking after a game usually it’s a good thing, so I could get used to it I guess,” Carpenter said.
It was Carpenter’s third homer of the year – the first hit off the right field foul pole; the second on Thursday was almost caught. This one was different.
“This was the first swing I’ve taken this season that I just knew nobody was going to catch it,” he said.
Here is how Friday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: Tyler O’Neill also homered for the Cardinals, a solo shot leading off the fourth, his fifth of the season. It was one of three hits on the night for O’Neill, who also had a pair of singles, his second three-hit game in the last three days …Nolan Arenado hit two doubles, both of the bloop variety, to drive in two runs … Paul Goldschmidt was hitless in five at-bats, striking out three times … Harrison Bader made his season debut after coming off the injured list and had a single in four at-bats. He also struck out twice … Paul DeJong was hitless in four at-bats and has just two hits, both singles, in his last 25 at-bats.
On the mound: John Gant allowed just three hits over five innings but also issued five walks, which forced him out of the game after throwing 99 pitches … Kodi Whitley, called up from the alternate site camp on Thursday, allowed two runs to score when he relieved Tyler Webb with the bases loaded in the sixth and committed a balk and threw a wild pitch … Genesis Cabrera made his first appearance since hitting Bryce Harper and Didi Gregorius with consecutive pitches on Wednesday night and retired all six hitters he faced, recording two strikeouts.
Key stat: The last Cardinal to hit two three-run, pinch-hit home runs in the same season was Eduardo Perez in 2002, doing it on July 26 and Aug. 31. Carpenter’s blast was the first pinch-hit home run by the Cardinals in Pittsburgh with at least two runners on base since Ron Northey hit a pinch-hit grand slam in 1948.
Worth noting: Manager Mike Shildt confirmed that Adam Wainwright did receive the COVID vaccine and has tested negative for the virus but did not make the trip to Pittsburgh because a family member had tested positive. The team is hopeful he will be able to make the start at home on Monday night against the Mets. Carlos Martinez will get the start on Sunday which was supposed to be Wainwright’s turn in the rotation … Andrew Miller was placed on the injured list after Thursday’s game because of a flareup of a toe blister on his right foot, Shildt said … The Cardinals made another roster move before the game, placing right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon on the injured list because of inflammation in his right shoulder. Jake Woodford was activated off the taxi squad … Catcher Tyler Heineman and infielder Jose Rondon are the other players on the taxi squad this weekend … The Cardinals announced their opening day rosters for their four full-season minor-league affiliates, all of whom will begin play on Tuesday. The top pitching prospects, Matthew Liberatore and Zack Thompson, will begin in Memphis and the top position prospects, Nolan Gorman and Ivan Herrera, were assigned to Double A Springfield. The top two picks in last year’s draft, Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn, were assigned to low Class A Palm Beach.
Looking ahead: Jack Flaherty will get the start on Saturday night in the second game of the series. At 4-0, Flaherty is looking to become the first Cardinals pitcher to win his first five decisions since Lance Lynn won his first six starts in 2012.
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