Martinez Walks it Off

(Busch Stadium) On Tuesday, Jose Martinez shared he had left his phone in the car and went into a local restaurant as the MLB trade deadline neared. Hoping that he wouldn’t be traded from the St. Louis Cardinals, Martinez said he was relieved and eager to help the team climb back into the playoff hunt.

This afternoon he did just that–delivering a walk-off single into right field that brought home Greg Garcia and Harrison Bader as the Cardinals beat Colorado 3-2.

“Trying to put the ball in play,” said Martinez. “Trying just to get one run in, that’s the most important thing. From there, got a little bit of something else. Actually, a walk-off. It feels amazing. We’ve played good baseball, good teams now and trying to keep it rolling.”

It was the 19th career pinch-hit for Martinez, but his first walk-off RBI.

“A great teammate,” praised Mike Shildt. “That’s probably one of the best compliments I can give Jose. He’s still getting opportunities. He’s not getting quite as many but he’s determined to make the most of them and showed up ready to take a really quality at bat with a nice plan and I think he feels pretty good about it.”

Greg Garcia keyed the inning with a 1-out hit, followed by Harrison Bader, who moved him to third with a single to right field. Bader then stole second and both runner scored on Martinez hit into the right-center.

“I knew he would take that bag,” said Martinez of Bader’s steal. “Mentally, I was like if he goes just take a pitch and go from there. That actually was the idea, to get the winning run at second base.”

The Cardinals also benefited from two standout defensive plays by Tyler O’Neill in right field. One involved covering a great distance to snag a fly and spin off the wall, the other needed him to charge and slide along the foul line.

“If I can help on the defensive side of the ball that’s what I’m going to do,” said O’Neill. “I was just able to make a couple of plays out there to help the boys get the game going.”

Which play was most difficult?

“I gotta say the one down the line,” said O’Neill. “Getting close to the wall there. I was just trying to get the out anyway possible.”

This was the 9th walk-off win of the season for the Cardinals and pending the results of tonight’s games, could move the team to within 3.5 games of the second Wild Card spot.

“This is a focused group that’s really dedicated to playing good baseball and to moving this thing forward and to win games and to put us in position even further than where we are now,” said Shildt. “This team wants to play in the playoffs.”

EARLY EXIT FOR OZUNA

–Left fielder Marcell Ozuna left the game in the top of the 5th inning with discomfort in his left toe. Earlier, Ozuna had been assisted by a trainer during his at-bat in the 3rd inning before he popped out with a foul to catcher Tony Wolters.

After the game, Ozuna shared that he had a corn on his foot–which has been shaved off and he expects to be able to play tomorrow night in Pittsburgh.

photo credit: Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

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