Poncedeleon Leads Youth Movement

(Busch Stadium) Pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon wasn’t credited with the win, but the rookie certainly saved the day for the St. Louis Cardinals as they rallied to beat the Colorado Rockies 6-3 tonight.

“Stepped up huge,” praised interim manager Mike Shildt. “Weaver’s throwing the ball pretty well, he just, a lot of deep counts. They got his pitch count up and a long inning there in the 3rd. Ponce came in and was fantastic. Got out of that and started the next inning, gave us a good 4th, gave us a good 5th–had a big at bat.”

Poncedeleon relieved starter Luke Weaver with two outs in the 3rd inning and allowed only a walk and struck out two in 2.1 scoreless innings. In addition, he drove in the first run of his career–which tied the game 2-2.

“I was pretty happy I put the ball in play there,” smiled Poncedeleon. “That is a lot bigger for me than my first strikeout. First career RBI, yeah. Because I’m not known to be good at the plate.”

Poncedeleon was followed by Austin Gomber, Dakota Hudson, Jordan Hicks, and Mike Mayers as the five rookies shut things down just a day after the Cardinals emphasized wanting to give more of their young players an opportunity to perform.

“I’m just glad we got the win,” said Gomber, who was credited with his first MLB win.

“I feel like I did probably the least out of any the pitchers tonight and I get the win, so that’s just how the game works. Obviously, not how like Luke wanted to go but our bullpen tonight was great, starting with Ponce, getting thrown into a tough situation again and throwing up some zeroes. Kind of set the pace for the rest of us.”

On the offensive side, the youth movement also delivered as Tyler O’Neill pinch-hit to drive in the go-ahead run and Harrison Bader banged out three hits and scored twice, plus stole his 10th base of the season.

“I think it just goes to show you that this is an incredibly talented system,” said Bader. “I was part of that last year coming up and to see guys like that step into big situations and keep their cool and poise, it just speaks volumes to not only them as individuals but also how the Cardinals handle their farm system. It’s pretty exciting.”

Bader’s double in the 6th inning was into shallow right field but the rookie didn’t many steps out of the box to make the decision to go for two bases.

“That was a double out of the box, so the answer to that would be one,” he stated with a laugh. “Every player at this level is gifted with their respective tools and I was given speed, I guess. Any chance you get to have the ability to use it, you better believe I’m going to open it up. It was a tight game so if there’s a chance in hell that I’m going to get on base with less than two outs, I’m going to take it.”


–Besides driving in a pair of runs with a double in the 8th inning, Yadier Molina became just the 13th catcher in MLB history to play at least 15,000 innings behind the plate.

photo credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

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