Tuesday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Royals 5
By Rob Rains, STLSportsPage.com
Before Tuesday night’s game, Cardinals manager Oli Marmol reiterated that backup catcher Andrew Knizner will get more of an opportunity to play this season, spotting Yadier Molina.
He also said that playing time will be critical to the team’s evaluation of what they can expect from Knizner offensively should he become the regular catcher in 2023 after Molina’s scheduled retirement.
Marmol got a glimpse of what Knizner can do a couple of hours later. His shot stayed fair down the left-field line in the fourth inning for a three-run homer that proved to be the difference in their win over the Royals at Busch Stadium.
Making his first start of the season, Knizner’s homer staked the Cardinals to a 6-3 lead and followed back-to-back homers in the first inning from Nolan Arenado and Albert Pujols.
Pujols did not get a standing ovation as he came to the plate in the first but he earned a curtain call after he launched the 680th homer of his career and his first since his return to the Cardinals.
Here is how Tuesday night’s game broke down:
At the plate: Arenado, the reigning NL Player of the Week, started off his week with his third homer in the season’s first four games, a two-run shot that followed a single by Tyler O’Neill… Arenado now has six extra base hits in those four games, three homers and three doubles, the most since Ray Lankford also had six to start the 2001 season … In the fourth, Pujols and Tommy Edman singled in front of Knizner’s two-out blast … Pujols also singled in the fifth for his third hit of the night before flying out in his final at-bat in the seventh.
On the mound: Dakota Hudson was given the three-run lead in the first but gave it back in the second, allowing home runs to Salvador Perez and Michael A. Taylor … Perez also homered again, off Genesis Cabrera, in the eighth… Hudson worked four innings before coming out of the game after throwing 70 pitches … Jordan Hicks, who had been scheduled to start on Tuesday night before Monday’s rainout, made his first appearance of the year and got the win by working two scoreless innings, allowing only a walk with two strikeouts … The Royals added a run in the seventh off Nick Wittgren before closing the gap to 6-5 … Giovanny Gallegos came in for the ninth and retired the Royals in order to earn his first save.
Key stat: Arenado has driven in at least two runs in each of the first four games of the season, the first Cardinal to do that since Mark McGwire in 1998. He has a total of nine RBIs.
Worth noting: The Cardinals have scored in the first inning in each game so far this season, the first time they have done that in records dating back to 1901 … At 42 years old, Pujols is now the fourth oldest player to hit a home run in franchise history, trailing Dazzy Vance, Stan Musial and Walker Cooper … Of the team’s seven homers so far this season, two have come from hitters batting in the ninth spot in the lineup, Tommy Edman and Knizner.
Looking ahead: The pitching matchup for Wednesday’s scheduled 12:15 p.m. game is Adam Wainwright against Zack Greinke, but there is a strong likelihood of rain. Marmol said he once homered off Greinke when he was a high school freshman, but noted Greinke struck him out on three pitches in his next at-bat.
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