(Busch Stadium) For the second time in as many games, the St. Louis Cardinals walked-off in victory against the Cincinnati Reds with today’s run being driven in by Harrison Bader.
“I was aware of the infielders, but I wasn’t paying attention,” said Bader, who had five Reds on the infield as he stepped in to try and get a ball in the air to score Tyler O’Neill from third base. With a one-one count, he delivered, sending a shot into right field that O’Neill easily trotted home on for the walk-off.
“The biggest thing there is slowing everything down,” Bader said. “Just not making the at-bat and situation more than it has to be. It’s super-simple, the ball doesn’t know what’s going on behind the scenes so I was just kind of locked in to what I had to do and it worked out for us.”
Bader also made a highlight-reel catch, diving in the second inning to rob Freddy Galvis of an extra-base hit. Back on his feet, Harrison hit a crab pose and smiled after throwing the ball back in. His smile was almost as wide as after driving in the winning run.
“I’ve always had fun on a baseball field, that goes without saying, I think at times it shows up more, especially with the beginning of the year, individually speaking,” Bader said. “But the reason why I’ve been able to play and, as you said have fun, is just because of my teammates. The second I got back, they were aware of what was going on down in Memphis and how hard I was working, to kind of come back to really a family-like feel in the clubhouse, it just means the world to me. Every pitcher, every position player came over to me and gave me a hug, told me I was doing well. So when you enter back into that, the adjustment is super simple and it’s super easy.
“So I really do give them all the credit and I’m just going out there and playing baseball. And just focusing again on just doing one thing, on any side of the baseball, to help this team win because again, at the end of the day, a win is the most important thing. Especially with what we have going on. We’re all aware of it. When that comes to mind, it just takes all the pressure off of me. Takes it off what I’m trying to do, offensively just trying to pass the baton to the guy behind me. Super-relaxed about it.”
In the 12 games since his recall from Memphis, Bader is hitting .333 (12-36) and 9 RBIs. And he’s continued to display defense which had him ranked first in the National League with four 5-star catches, and second in zone rating (.961).
“Anytime I see a ball in the air towards the outfield, I just think bad news for the hitter,” Miles Mikolas said. “We’ve got guys out there who can track them down, we’ve got guys who can pick it. Guys that are going to win multiple Gold Gloves out there. Guys that already have won multiple Gold Gloves out there. I mean, look at the guys we just called up–we have Paul and Wong not out there and we still, I think, have probably the best defense in the league out there. No matter who we have coming in reserves, guys were calling up the Cardinal Way–they stress that defense and we’ve got some guys who can really throw some leather around out there.”
Making his team-leading 28th start of the season, Mikolas did not get the decision and finished with a line of 6 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, HR, 5 Ks. He also was part of a benches clearing incident with Galvis in the fourth inning. The Reds second baseman flew out to center and then ran directly across the mound on the way back to the dugout. Mikolas took exception and hollered at Galvis. Yadier Molina quickly got down the line to Galvis as both benches began to empty onto the field. No pushes, punches, players were thrown.
“I asked him politely to use the grass,” Mikolas shared. “Pitchers, we do a tremendous job taking care of that mound–your landing spot, the rubber, trying to keep it nice for the guys coming out of the bullpen. No one wants to come out of the bullpen with the mound all chewed up. So want to keep it nice for my teammates and just asked him nicely to not use that avenue again.”
The Cardinals are now 30-2 when scoring at least three runs since the All-Star break and have won 9 of their last 10 home games.
First pitch of the second game of today’s doubleheader is set for 6:05pm with Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-1) vs. Luis Castillo (13-5).
photo credit: Brian Stull/STLBaseballWeekly.com