Back in First

Take your pick of the most exciting aspect of the St. Louis Cardinals 6-0 victory over Kansas City tonight. The win moved the team into a tie with Chicago for first place in the National League Central. It also extended their win streak to five consecutive games. Randy Arozarena had a pair of hits in his MLB debut, and Paul DeJong made franchise history.

The Cardinals shortstop hit his 20th home run of the season, becoming the first shortstop to have at least 20 home runs in multiple seasons.

“It’s pretty amazing to think about, all the great players that played in this uniform,” said DeJong, who hit 25 round-trippers as a rookie in 2017. “Extremely honored and hopefully it’s like a standard, not the exception.”

Home runs, not to mention base hits, were hard to come by early as St. Louis did not get a hit off the Royals’ Brad Keller through six innings. Then Marcell Ozuna, DeJong, Matt Carpenter, Yadier Molina, and Arozena had consecutive singles to open the seventh.

“We kept our confidence,” DeJong said. “Third time through, we knew what he was doing. It wasn’t any question. I feel like he may have felt it a little bit knowing his pitch count was up. It was now or never for us. Ozuna did a great job hitting the ball hard. I wasn’t waiting around, kind of just trying to hit the ball hard somewhere and found the whole. Carp did a great job too. For us it was just a matter of time. He pitched great, but we got to him when it counted.”

Five runs came into score for St. Louis in the seventh and then DeJong added his homerun in the eighth. Tyler Webb, John Gant, and Junior Fernandez finished things up behind Dakota Hudson (11-6), who finished with a line of 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BBs, 4 Ks.

“It was a well-played game in all phases,” Mike Shildt said. “We just played a nice ballgame. Dakota set the tone, controlled a lot of counts. Did a really nice job. A lot of quality pitches down in the zone, good slider going–a lot of them were on the plate. He was very, very effective and did a really nice job.”

“I just knew that if I got through as many innings as possible and try to put as many zeroes as possible, eventually our hitters would come through and they did,” Hudson said. “I mixed things up a little bit. We were just trying to figure out what to ride with early and I think Yadi was there making adjustments with me. We just figured what we could dump in the zone and then expand when we could. Just try to pitch low in the zone as much as possible.”

The Cardinals recorded their seventh shutout win of the season and second straight to mark their first back-to-back shutouts since Aug. 6-8, 2015 when they did so against Cincinnati and at Milwaukee.

photo credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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