Sunday’s Game Report: Cardinals 6, Phillies 5
By Rob Rains
The growth that Jordan Walker has experienced during his rookie season with the Cardinals was on display Sunday at Busch Stadium.
Five pitches into the game, Walker made a diving catch in right field which he admits he likely would not have made in April, saving a leadoff extra-base hit.
With the game against the Phillies tied in the eighth inning, Walker hit a home run that he might not have hit earlier this season either, giving the Cardinals the victory.
It’s all about experience and about feeling confident and comfortable for Walker – on both offense and defense – and knowing that the work he has put in with coach Willie McGee on his defense and with the hitting coaches is paying dividends.
It gave the Cardinals a win on Sunday, and as his manager, Oli Marmol, said, “He’s going to help us win for a long time.”
It has been a strong end of the season for Walker, who so far in 14 games in September is hitting .302 (16-of-53) with four home runs. It is making him even more confident about what can happen in 2024.
“Experience is everything,” Walker said. “First time going into a big spot, the nerves are there. Time after time, seeing those big situations, and failing in them, you learn from your mistakes.
“I’m learning what I need to do in the off-season, knowing what I need to focus on, to be prepared to come back next year. Getting the experience and learning what I need to do definitely helps.”
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
At the plate: The Cardinals also got a home run from Paul Goldschmidt, his 25th of the season, in the fifth, which followed his two-run double in the third … Nolan Arenado drove in two runs with a double in the third and a single in the fifth … Walker’s homer, his 16th of the year, came with two outs in the eighth after the Phillies wiped out a 5-3 Cardinals lead and tied the game in the top of the inning.
On the mound: Dakota Hudson allowed three runs over five innings, with all of the runs scoring in the fourth inning … Alec Bohm’s home run off Giovanny Gallegos in the eighth cut the Cardinals lead to 5-4 and the tying run scored on a single by Nick Castellanos off John King … Ryan Helsley was able to pitch around a one-out walk and single in the ninth to earn the save, stranding the would-be tying run on second with a strikeout and fly out.
Key stat: With Goldschmidt getting three RBIs and Arenado two, this was only the fifth time this season both players have had multi-RBI games in the same game, and was the first time they had done it since June 28. It was Arenado’s first multi-RBI game since Aug. 23.
Worth noting: It’s likely that Tyler O’Neill’s season is over after he was placed on the injured list on Sunday because of a sprained right foot. It has been another injury-filled year for O’Neill, who played in only 72 games for the Cardinals. He has appeared in more than 100 games only once in the last six years. “Our hope and Tyler’s hope was that he would be healthy this year and show what he was capable of doing,” said Marmol. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen.” … Juan Yepez was recalled from Memphis to take O’Neill’s spot on the roster … Chandler Redmond’s 31st homer of the year broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning and sent the Double A Springfield Cardinals into the playoffs on Sunday with a win over San Antonio in the final game of the regular season. They will host Arkansas in game one of the Texas League playoffs on Tuesday night.
Looking ahead: Adam Wainwright will be going for the 200th win of his career on Monday night when the Cardinals host the division-leading Brewers in the opener of a four-game series. It’s the Cardinals first games against Milwaukee since the middle of May.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains