(Busch Stadium) Just as Monday’s game was about to be an all-too familiar tale of the St. Louis Cardinals not getting the starting pitching or timely hitting they needed, the 9th inning happened.
Yadier Molina led off the inning with a single and was later hit by a pitch for the walk-off victory. In between, the Cardinals recorded two outs, two hits, three walks, and an additional hit by pitch. The end result, a 5-4 win over Cincinnati.
“Just a quick turn of events,” said Mike Matheny. “Taking every at-bat, we’ve seen that from this team most of the season. Today, was flat. I don’t know why–the balls we did square up seemed to be at guys. It seemed like we were just fighting to get a positive vibe, even though we had a couple opportunities. Seemed like we just kept getting squelched. We had a guy pitch as good as we’ve seen him pitch. We were in a bad spot, they bring in their closer and a four run lead.
“It just shows what I keep saying about this club, they continue to just play the game. I think that win right there is kind of a small version of our season, of what we’ve got to do–just keep playing the game. You trust in each other–that was one of those ‘next man up’. It was nobody with that huge home run, it was just one right after another whether it’s hit batsmen, or whether it’s walks, or whether it’s big hits. Play the game and good things can happen.”
Brandon Moss was one of the three batters who drew a walk in the 9th inning, plating a run to tie the game.
“You don’t see that very often,” admitted Moss on the method of the St. Louis comeback. “Especially against a bullpen that’s been as good as theirs has been lately.”
Entering the 9th inning, the Cardinals had stranded seven runners on base.
“There’s frustration,” shared Moss on the dugout. “Frustration with just some unlucky things that have happened. Frustration with not being able to grind away at-bats and push across runs like we know we’re capable of doing. But I think the whole game we all went up there with the approach to have a good at-bat and get something done. Finally there in the 9th inning–you can have the good approach, you can do all the things you want to–you can even hit the ball hard, but it takes a little luck sometimes. And you’ve got to get the pitches to do it with and in the 9th inning we got a lot of pitches to do it with. We had good at-bats and we didn’t chase many pitches and we scored enough runs to win the game.”
Already having spent time on the disabled list with a sprained ankle, Moss was hobbled again during his strikeout in the 8th inning.
“It wasn’t my ankle,” he explained. “I fouled a ball off my back knee and my whole leg went numb. I tried to walk it off and you can’t take 10 minutes to walk it off, so once I was able to walk I got back in there but it was still numb. So the next two swings I took probably were the weirdest, most uncomfortable swings I’ve ever taken in my life. My whole back side didn’t move.
“It was one of those things where–what can you do? I mean, you’re in the at-bat. I didn’t know it was going to stay numb. I just tried to battle, I swung at a couple of pitches in a weird way and then I went back in the dugout. Next inning, went out and it was still kind of numb but before the inning was over, some feeling started to come back into it. I don’t know why it went numb, that was the weirdest thing I’ve ever had happen.
“Just trying to figure it out,” answered Matheny if the right-hander was dealing with something physically, mechanically, or other.
“You see some good ones and then some that he’s just fighting. Hopefully, try to get him right.”
“Yeah,command early on–especially in that 1st and 2nd inning was kind of just all over the place,” agreed Wacha. “Not constantly hitting my spot. Giving up free base runners is a good way to get your pitch count up there, that’s not very good. But I felt like I was able to settle in and start making pitches down in the zone and throwing some good changeups below the zone as well.”
Earlier in the season, Wacha pointed to his release as not being high enough to deliver on the downward plane that makes his pitches so effective, but he did not believe that was the case tonight.
“It’s weird,” he explained. “Sometimes it feels like I’m cutting it off on heaters and just not staying through it, I guess.”
–The five runs scored by the Cardinals in the 9th inning marked the first time the team had done so in Busch Stadium III and first time overall since August of 2005.
photo credit: Bill Greenblatt/UPI