photo: Dylan Carlson via Zoom (Brian Walton/The Cardinal Nation)
Wednesday, September 30, 2020 – St. Louis 7 at San Diego 4
The St. Louis Cardinals scored early then turned back several late opportunities by the San Diego Padres’ offense to claim a 7-4 victory in their series opener at Petco Park. The Wild Card Series is best-of-three.
The contest featured a bit of everything: offense, defense – both good and bad, pitching – both good and not-so-good. St. Louis’ bats pounced a depleted Padres’ pitching staff missing their top two starters due to injuries – Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet – by scoring six times over the initial three frames.
The visitors banged out 13 hits, led by veteran Yadier Molina who was playing in his 99th postseason contest. The catcher went 3-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and an RBI. Molina had plenty of opportunities at the plate, batting right behind Dylan Carlson, who reached base four times in five plate appearances.
Carlson joined Stan Musial and Albert Pujols as the only Cardinals age 21 or younger to bat clean-up for the club in the postseason. The left-fielder singled and doubled in three at bats with two walks and touched home twice. Batting in the six hole, Paul DeJong reached base five times, going 2-for-2 with two free passes, a hit-by-pitch, run scored and one driven in.
The final Cardinal with a multi-hit game was Dexter Fowler, who singled twice in five at bats with an RBI. Paul Goldschmidt got the scoring started with a two-run bomb that was part of his team’s four-run first inning.
Faced with a display of offense rare in his starts, Kwang Hyun Kim yielded single tallies in each of his first three frames on the mound. The lefty, who battled both San Diego’s potent offense and the home plate umpire’s tight strike zone, lasted just 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. All three tallies resulted from permitting the lead-off batter to reach.
Ryan Helsley recorded four outs, stranding an inherited runner. But Helsley was tagged for an unearned run in the sixth because of third baseman Tommy Edman’s inability to cleanly handle Yadier Molina’s strike on an attempted steal of third by former Cardinal Tommy Pham.
Genesis Cabrera replaced Helsley and immediately plunked his first batter, putting runners at the corners for catcher Austin Nola. Nola flied into an unusual 9-3-5 double play – due in large part to a baserunning blunder by the trailing runner. Cabrera departed after allowing a single and walk, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate in the form of dangerous Fernando Tatis, Jr.
Giovanny Gallegos (W, 1-0) got Tatis on a swinging K to hold San Diego to one run that inning. Gallegos issued a two-out free pass in the seventh but got Pham – representing the tying run – to ground out to short.
Andrew Miller greeted his first batter the next inning by hitting him then yielded a one-out single. The veteran right-hander got the hook after a rundown that retired the lead runner at third, and gave way to Alex Reyes.
Reyes faced Tatis, representing the go-ahead run, and got him to hit into a 6-3 ground out. After St. Louis added a final tally in the ninth off former Cardinal Trevor Rosenthal, Reyes tossed a one-two-three ninth for his first post-season save.
Defensively, St. Louis had a couple of highlight reel plays, notably left fielder Carlson’s diving catch to rob Manny Machado of extra bases to open the seventh and center fielder Harrison Bader’s leaping grab for the game’s final out. Molina threw in a gem of his own in foul territory and Dexter Fowler made a nifty catch in right.
Thursday’s game: at San Diego (0-1), 4:08 pm CDT, Adam Wainwright (0-0, —) vs. Zach Davies (0-0, —)
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