Friday’s Game Report: Cardinals 9. Rockies 3 (10 innings)
By Rob Rains
Only time will tell how important Friday night’s win will become for the Cardinals.
But for a team starving for offense, starving for something positive, their six-run explosion in the 10th inning in Denver, after being one strike away from another frustrating loss in the ninth, it might just become something to build on.
Jose Rondon’s pinch-hit single, on an 0-2 pitch, drove in Tommy Edman with the tying run in the ninth. After RBI singles from Yadier Molina, also on an 0-2 pitch, and Edman in the 10th, Harrison Bader broke the game open with his first career grand slam.
“It’s a huge team win for us,” Bader said. “This is what we’re capable of doing, we all know it. It’s just a matter of going out there and just doing it. This is a great example of that.”
The win was the first this season for the Cardinals when they had trailed going into the ninth inning, having lost 37 consecutive games. They were one strike away from making it 38, one strike away from falling 10 games behind the division-leading Brewers.
Knowing the Cardinals already had a two-run lead, Bader said right before he came to the plate he had a silent conversation with himself.
“You’ve got nothing to lose,” he said. “My teammates came through before me, we got some insurance up there, let’s just see what happens.”
Considering he has missed more than 50 games this season because of injuries, Bader said that’s almost the attitude he wants to have the rest of the season.
“I’ve missed a lot of baseball and I’m not going to have these 80 games go with any tension or any pressure,” he said. “I’m going to go pitch by pitch day by day and see how it shakes out.”
The homer was Bader’s first hit since coming off the injured list. It came with his father in the stands for the first time since the season-opening series in Pittsburgh.
The only downside to the win was a potential injury to Tyler O’Neill, who was hit by a pitch on the little finger of his right hand in the sixth inning. He finished the half inning but then left the game.
Manager Mike Shildt said the team was “cautiously optimistic” but will know more about O’Neill’s status on Saturday.
Here is how Friday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: The ninth-inning rally began when Edman drew a one-out walk. Bader drew another walk with two outs to bring Rondon to the plate and after taking two called strikes, he lined a single to left for his first RBI of the season … With two outs in the 10th and runners on first and second, Molina also came through with two strikes, lining a single up the middle. Edman’s RBI single followed, and after Paul DeJong walked, Bader unloaded his 443-foot blast … The first two runs came in the second on Molina’s first career home run at Coors Field, coming in his 150th at-bat at the ballpark. This was only the third game for Molina with three hits at Coors Field and was his first game driving in three runs, in 42 games.
On the mound: Johan Oviedo, making his 15th career start and still searching for his first win, allowed three runs over six innings. He scattered seven hits, walked one and struck out three. The game was tied 2-2 going into the sixth, when he gave up back-to-back two-out doubles that gave the Rockies the lead … Ryan Helsley, Genesis Cabrera, John Gant and Alex Reyes combined to allow just two hits over rhe final four innings, with Gant getting out of a jam with runners on first and third and one out in the eighth by getting back-to-back strikeouts.
Key stat: Bader’s grand slam was the first extra-inning grand slam for the Cardinals since Paul Goldschmidt hit one on July 22, 2019 at Pittsburgh. It was only their second extra-inning homer at Coors Field, the other a three-run homer by Mike Matheny in the 13th inning on April 8, 2003.
Worth noting: Matthew Liberatore, the Cardinals’ top pitching prospect, will not be on the team that represents the U.S. at the Olympics in Tokyo later this month. Liberatore started two games in the tournament’s qualifying round but was not included on the official roster for the games announced on Friday. John Mozeliak, the Cardinals’ president of baseball operations, said the organization recognized the opportunity for Liberatore but could not justify it at the current time.
“Given everything that we have going on right now, it’s just a hard thing to commit to,” Mozeliak said. “He got the opportunity to do the Futures Game, and you look at the timing of it and there’s questions on exactly when he would be back. Our responsibility is to the organization … For someone who is where he is at his career right now it’s just a little difficult to put a pause on that.” … Jake Woodford made his first start for Memphis on Friday night and threw 55 pitches, but pitched only two innings, allowing four runs on five hits.
Looking ahead: Wade LeBlanc will make his second start for the Cardinals in the third game of the series on Saturday night.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains