Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 5
By Rob Rains
Time will tell how important the blast from Harrison Bader, and one two batters later from Nolan Arenado, will turn out to be for the Cardinals.
At the time – the seventh inning of Sunday’s game at Busch Stadium – it seemed pretty darn big.
The Cardinals trailed the Diamondbacks 5-3 when the inning started, nine outs away from losing their third consecutive game.
A leadoff single from Andrew Knizner, a double by Paul DeJong and a groundout by Brandon Donovan cut the lead to 5-4 when Bader, hitting second, came up to bat.
At the time, the Cardinals had hit one home run in their previous 365 at-bats. Of their 30 hits over their last four games, 25 had been singles.
It was a team in need of a jolt.
“The goal right there was just to bring the run in,” Bader said. “Obviously the result was a good one. … That put us ahead. That was a big team win for us all. We earned that one.”
The fact the Cardinals had been struggling offensively was no secret, but Bader said one of the keys to getting out of a stretch like that is to not start pressing, thinking you have to come up with that key hit.
“It’s kind of like a blind trust, honestly,” Bader said. “You just never know when it’s going to come, but you know at some point you’re going to be able to grab onto it. It’s there.
“One swing can be the difference.”
Ryan Helsley preserved the win, getting the last six outs on only 18 pitches – eight of them timed at more than 100 miles per hour.
Strike three to Ketel Marte in the eighth was timed at 103 miles per hour, the fastest pitch Helsley has ever thrown and the fastest in the majors this season. He turned around to check out the velocity on the scoreboard.
“I did look up when I was walking around (the mound),” Helsley said. “It just felt harder, that one came out a little better. I looked up and was like ‘wow.’ It kind of caught me by surprise.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals scored their first two runs in the third, only hitting one ball out of the infield, thanks to an Arizona error, a walk and three fielder’s choice grounders … Albert Pujols, playing first base, had an RBI single in the sixth. It was only his second hit in 18 at-bats against a righthanded pitcher … The home runs from Bader and Arenado gave the Cardinals their first two-homer game since April 15.
On the mound: Jordan Hicks only allowed two hits in his 3 1/3 innings of work, but they were both home runs. He walked two and struck out four as he threw 63 pitches, the most he has thrown in his three starts this season … Andre Pallante gave up the third homer for the Diamondbacks in the fifth and the final one came off Genesis Cabrera in the seventh … Helsley’s four strikeouts gave him 16 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings in his first seven games this year. He has allowed only one hit.
Key stat: Coming into Sunday’s game, Hicks had allowed only one homer to a righthanded batter in his career, covering 242 at-bats, by Justin Upton in 2019, before the homers by Jordan Luplow in the first and Christian Walker in the fourth.
Worth noting: The Cardinals have never lost three consecutive games to the Diamondbacks at home in the same season … The four homers were the most the Diamondbacks have hit in 54 games all time at Busch Stadium 3 and their most since they hit five in a game at Busch 2 on April 17, 2001 … With Paul Goldschmidt getting the day off, the only Cardinal to start the first 21 games of the season is Tommy Edman and the only other to play in all 21 games is Bader. Edman missed his first three innings of the season when he came out of the game after the sixth inning after a hip flexor tightened up. He did not think it was anything serious … In the extended spring program, pitching prospect Tink Hence, who has battled injuries, threw a pitch at 100 mph in his last game.
Looking ahead: The start time for Monday’s makeup game against the Royals has been moved up to 12:15 p.m. because of expected weather later in the day. Steven Matz is the scheduled starter.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains