For the second time in three games, the St. Louis Cardinals delivered a walk-off home run to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Kolten Wong had the honors in this afternoon’s 3-2 victory.
“He seems to do that well, we like watching it,” noted Mike Matheny of his second baseman. It was the fourth walk-off home run of Wong’s career, with two prior game-enders against the Pirates.
“Guys feed off all the energy we have in our stands,” continued Matheny, who reiterated a pregame topic of confidence. “The belief that we’re going to be able to do something because we’ve seen it happen before, I think it kind of self-perpetuates. After you see it, you almost expect it again and then the guys aren’t getting overwhelmed by the situation and come through and do some amazing things.”
This was the seventh walk-off win of the season for the Cardinals and of their 35 walk-off wins since 2013, nine have come against Pittsburgh.
Starter Luke Weaver allowed just one run, a solo home run, on four hits in five innings pitched. He also struck out four batters. Due up second in the bottom of the 5th and at 90 pitches, Weaver hit for himself and drew a walk.
“I think we had all intentions for me to go up there and I was ready stay in the game,” shared Weaver, who was lifted after his sprint home to put the Cards on top 2-1 on a Tommy Pham single. “I calmed my breath and was ready to go, but with the high pitch count and then them just not liking how long I was on the bases and running, etc–there was some of those negatives weighing me down there. I understand. Obviously, I’m a competitor and wanted to go back out there and I had that, but we had Gomber who’s fresh and ready to go and he did a heck of a job.”
That would be Austin Gomber, who made his MLB debut with three scoreless frames in the 6th, 7th, and 8th inning.
“Obviously, extremely excited,” said Gomber. “I’ve worked a long time to get here and it was just nice to be able to fulfill a lifelong dream.”
The rookie walked the first batter he faced, but then recorded a strikeout and 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
“After I got that first out, I think I settle down a little bit,” Gomber said. “Kind of took a deep breath and just tried to take it all in and enjoy it. Definitely a day I’ll never forget.”
In his three innings, Gomber did not allow a hit or run and struck out two batters to go with the walk. Marcell Ozuna also helped out with a running catch against the left field wall to rob Jordy Mercer of a hit.
“He responded really well,” praised Matheny of Gomber. “Wanted to keep watching him. He obviously had a little defensive help in that last one, in that 8th inning. But up to that point, it looked really good. What a great first day for him.”
Closer Bud Norris came on in the top of the 9th and allowed the game tying home run to Austin Meadows. Norris then struck out the side to setup Wong’s walk-off blast over the right field wall.
photo credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports