Undeterred in his dedication to putting at bats behind him and not letting any result – good, bad, or blech – leak into many, Paul Goldschmidt didn’t fixate on the brutal math of his first four at bats on Monday. He didn’t measure the sunk costs of three strikeouts or the five outs he caused, but instead calculated the only chance he would have of drastically changing the game.
Goldschmidt knew the only way he would bat in the 10th inning was with the bases loaded and two outs. That is it. If the inning went through, he would have that one chance to end it.
He turned a single moment into a grand spectacle.
Goldschmidt, his evening lead with three strikeouts and then a double play, turned at 90-mph slider and drilled it for a walk-off grand slam to launch the Cardinals to a 7-3 win against the Toronto. An inning after Nolan Arenado’s liner off that same left field wall caused a premature firecracker to explode over the busch Stadium scoreboard, Goldschmidt set off all the fireworks and noise the home base could muster after the Cardinals’ first extra-inning win of the year.
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“Five outs in four at bats – that’s not what you want to do,” Goldschmidt said after the game, dropping his chin to fight a grin. “Honestly, I said to myself, ‘Play a good defense. Maybe I’ll get a chance when that inning comes.’ Bases loaded. Two outs. It’s my only chance to hit here. (I was) preparing for that at bat.”
“Very cool,” he said.
Goldschmidt’s seventh career grand slam was the seven homerun of his career and the seventh homerun in an extra inning of his career. In the final swing of the game, Goldschmidt also extended his on-base streak to 29 games and his hit streak to 15 games. Goldschmidt’s grand slam was the first to win a game in the Cardinals’ last at bat since Matt Carpenter’s in 2017, which also was against the Blues Jays.
The prelude to Goldschmidt’s winning swing came in the top of the tenth when an infielder made a crucial play in the outfield. Rookie Brendan Donovan, who started all the way for the Cardinals and had a brief cameo, made a diving catch into rightfield that prevented Toronto from scoring a go-ahead run. In the bottom of the inning, the Cardinals got the winning run to third base with no outs. Hazelwood West alum David Phelps froze the runner there, though he edited a storybook that ended by striking out pinch-hitter Albert Pujols and getting two outs without the runner coming into third place. The rally sputtered, threatening to grind to a halt.
Tommy Edman and pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa brought it to life with two walks with two outs, just as Goldschmidt had counted. He had a fifth at bat to make a final impact.
Professionally stoic and committed to not letting today’s fight turn into this week’s slump, Goldschmidt’s presence at the plate meant his teammates tried to mirror him in the dugout.
“We are on pins and needles,” said starter Miles Mikolas. “Don’t be too lavish out there in the dugout. Remain the same.”
A pitcher’s duel that dictated most of the game evolved sharply into a gift action by the Cardinals, until it ended again in a game of bullpen trying not to blink.
Both starters, Mikolas and Jose Berrios from Toronto, dictated the pace of their half innings. Mikolas tirelessly pounded the strike zone through his 6 2/3 innings. He struckout five batters and only really ran into problems in his last inning and the free bases started. Berrios also got the game in the seventh inning for the Blue Jays, throwing 6 1/3 innings, avoiding a walk completely and striking out seven. He took off with a lead that didn’t last, and both starters were tagged with three runs.
By the end of the fifth inning, the two righthanded starters had gone through the opponent’s lineup twice, faced 18 batters and squeezed 15.
What neither starter had done was a 70th pitch.
“It’s good when you’re defending, but when you hit it, it’s like, ‘Man, that was a little fast,'” Goldschmidt said.
Mikolas helped get the game so excited when he hopped out of the first inning. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walked a five-pitch walk for Mikolas to push the second batter of the game into scoring position. In one band before putting out a second, Mikolas started sifting through the Blue Jays with strikes—and never really stopped. He got a flyout and strikeout to end the first inning without giving up a run. Mikolas then retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.
Eight of those outs failed to get the ball out of the infield.
Few of those batters saw more than four pitches.
“There were a few innings where I went down to have a drink or use the bathroom and I came out and it was like I got two outs, two strokes,” said Mikolas. “Pack my things and get back to work. I would like to see us score tons, but I like it when I feel good and don’t have to sit still for long.”
Mikolas retired six batters in a row on a total of 20 pitches to move the game to the sixth inning. He had thrown only 60 pitches in total and held the Blue Jays scoreless to five points.
His 62nd pitch put an end to that.
Greeted by boos every time he came to the plate for his prominence in Houston’s lineup during the 2017 sign-stealing scandal, Springer headed back to the dugout, accompanied by cheers in his first two at bats. Mikolas struckout Springer to start the game and retired Springer to maintain control of the third inning. When Springer came on to lead off the sixth inning, he hit back. Toronto’s designated batter tapped a 1-0 slider from Mikolas for a solo homer to the seats behind the wall of left field. That messed up the game, 1-1, and it marked the Cardinals’ decision in the seventh when Springer brought Mikolas on the mound again.
Mikolas’s slim chance of running into Springer for the fourth time in the match disappeared when he hit Jays’ number 9 hitter, Bradley Zimmer. That left the bases loaded. Mikolas’ 99th pitch was his last.
Rookie Andre Pallante, the first of the seven Cardinals this season (so far) to make their debut in the Dutch big league, had one out to finish the seventh inning. Manager Oliver Marmol said he went with the rookie head of reliever Ryan Helsley because Helsley was limited to one inning on Monday and Pallante could get an out here and pitch the next inning.
Pallante had to deal with the bases loaded.
He made it worse before putting an end to it.
Inviting vibrations from last year’s MLB record of 29 bases loaded, Pallante forced in two runs with a basesloaded walk. He walked Springer on five pitches. The Jays got one hit in the inning and still produced two runs and the lead with three walks and a hit batter left runners nowhere else. As with any capacity cap, the overflow had to go home.
The Cardinals’ rally to answer started around rookies and radiated from there.
After the two runs Pallante had walked home, the Cardinals moved to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and it started with a newcomer wave goodbye. Juan Yepez scorched a pitch from Berrios with one out to drag in the Blue Jays lead. The homer, Yepez’ fourth of the season in the majors, struck out at 112.7 mph—the fastest exit speed recorded this year for a Cardinals’ homer.
“That ball was hammered,” Marmol said.
Donovan, another rookie, followed with a single, then the inning accelerated off Berrios. Corey Dickerson singled to put Donovan, the potential equalizer, on third base and chase Berrios out of the game after 6 1/3 innings.
Adam Cimber relieved Berrios with runners on the corners and soon caught up with Harrison Bader. The number 8 batter of the Cardinals didn’t get the take-signal on Cimber’s 3-0 pitch, so he didn’t. Bader singled to right field to turn the 3-0 pitch into a 3-3 tie. Sharp defenses, like Donovan’s catch or Tommy Edman’s diving problem from a grounder, froze it there and helped the Cardinals force extra innings to give Goldschmidt a fifth at bat, another chance to do what he hadn’t in any of his previous four at bats . bats. He struckout three and a double play for five outs as his tailwind, yet showing no hint, looked completely unflappable despite the wind.
That is, until he had that one chance to create a gust of wind.
“That’s a player who has confidence in what he can do,” said Marmol.