Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 4, Brewers 3
By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com
Much has been written, and said, about how the success of Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader has fueled the Cardinals during this month’s record-setting winning streak as they claimed a spot in the postseason.
The Cardinals’ third outfielder, Dylan Carlson had something to add to that conversation on Thursday – don’t forget about me.
Carlson hit home runs from each side of the plate against the Brewers – the second time he has done that in a game this month – to rally the Cardinals to the win that let them close out September with a 22-7 record.
The performance capped off a month that saw the 22-year-old rookie hit .280 with five homers and 15 RBIs in 26 starts. It’s the most homers and RBIs for Carlson in any month this season.
“I’m just going out there trying to do my thing every day,” Carlson said. “The numbers will be there at the end if I do my job. I think I’ve done a better job this month than the last few being more consistent.”
For September, O’Neill posted a .303 average with 11 homers and 27 RBIs. Bader hit .340 with six homers and 18 RBIs. Combined, the three outfielders hit .308 with 22 homers and 60 RBIs.
One of the team’s stated goals going into this season was to find out what they had in those three players. Carlson thinks they provided the answer.
“I’d say so,” Carlson said. “We’ve done a good job of going out there and showing what we’re capable of, showing improvement in certain areas and definitely we’ve also just committed to being better, being able to be coachable, being team players and I think that’s something that has a lot of value.”
Carlson’s two homers increased his season total to 18 to go along with 63 RBIs.
“The thing I’m most proud of is how much I’ve learned and grown so far this year,” Carlson said. “It’s had it’s ups and downs for sure for me personally. I think I can do a better job with certain things. I think I can be a little more consistent. There’s definitely areas I can grow in in my opinion.”
Here is how Thursday’s game broke down:
At the plate: Carlson’s first homer came with two outs in the third, a solo shot that put the Cardinals ahead 2-1. He added a two-run homer in the sixth to reclaim the lead after the Brewers had gone ahead … The two homers gave Carlson 53 extra-base hits (31 doubles, four triples, 18 homers) … The Cardinals finished the month with 52 homers, their second most in any month (55 in April 2000) and the second most in the majors this month, behind only the Blue Jays … Their first run came on a sacrifice fly from Jose Rondon in the second … Bader and Paul Goldschmidt got the day off.
On the mound: J.A. Happ pitched into the seventh, allowing the three Brewers’ runs on nine hits. Four of the hits came in a row when the Brewers scored twice in the fourth … Kodi Whitley relieved Happ in the seventh and issued a one-out walk in the eighth before T.J. McFarland relieved and induced a double play on his first pitch … Luis Garcia got the final two outs, both on strikeouts, to earn his second save.
Key stat: Carlson is the first rookie in major-league history to have two games in which he hit home runs from each side of the plate. The only other Cardinals to do that twice in the same season were Carlos Beltran in 2013 and Lance Berkman in 2011.
Worth noting: The Cardinals officially announced that Adam Wainwright will start the wild card game next Wednesday against either the Giants or Dodgers. Wainwright will become only the second pitcher age 40 or older to start a winner-take-all game in the postseason. The other to do that was Roger Clemens, who did it twice, in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS for the Yankees and in game 7 of the 2004 NLCS for the Astros against the Cardinals.
Looking ahead: Dakota Hudson will get the start on Friday in the first game of the weekend series against the Cubs at Busch Stadium. Jon Lester will start Saturday and Jake Woodford on Sunday.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains
To hear Mike Shildt’s postgame interview click the audio player below: