Matheny on club's latest walk-off: 'It's a hard team not to love'

Matheny on club's latest walk-off: 'It's a hard team not to love'

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Matheny on club's latest walk-off: 'It's a hard team not to love'


by JJ Bailey / BaseballStL | @TheJJBailey

Posted on August 20, 2014 at 1:21 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 20 at 2:34 AM

(BaseballStL) — Tuesday may have felt a bit familiar to the Cardinals, as they once again had to come from behind to take a win from the fading Reds. 

In a repeat act, the same names from Monday played key parts. Jhonny Peralta, a walk-off hero 24 hours before, swung St. Louis back into the game in the sixth inning. 

Martinez and Pierzynski got on the same page Monday, despite some unusual calls.

With the Birds in a 4-1 hole, the shortstop blasted his 17th home run of the season. It was a towering solo shot just left of Big Mac Land in the upper deck and broke a two-inning scoreless spell. The homer also gave Peralta a notch on his career belt, as it made him the franchise record holder for most home runs by a shortstop. 

Shane Robinson would add another run with a pinch hit single, pulling the Cards within one in the inning. 

The nine hole overall was most productive for us,” said Mike Matheny afterward. In fact, it was the only spot in the St. Louis order to not record an out. John Lackey picked up his fifth and sixth career hits early, and Robinson’s RBI base knock made the nine-hole 3-for-3.

In the eighth, the spot came up again and Daniel Descalso was tapped for a big at bat once more. 

“All you can do is try to put it in play hard,” he said of his pinch hitting approach. “That’s about it. Go up there with a plan and try to get a good pitch to hit.”

Jon Jay had walked with one out and moved to third on an A.J. Pierzynski pinch-hit single. For the second time in two nights Descalso tied the game with a double, scoring the guy with a locker next to his. 

“Pinch hitting is not easy, by any means,” Jay said. “He works his tail off. He’s a winning player, he’s a gamer and for him to get results like that is good to see.”

The Cardinals would load the bases but ultimately fail to score the winning run until their final three outs. 

Like Monday, Matt Holliday reached first and was moved to third by a Matt Adams single into right. Like Monday, Peralta stood in with a chance to win it. This time, he took a 3-2 fastball for ball four, loading the bases for the hot-swinging Jay. 

“Guys are just coming through with big at bats at big times,” Matheny said. “They’re ready.”

Jay would take the first pitch off his front leg, picking up the club’s second walk-off hit by pitch on the year. 

“It’s not like I go up there getting hit by a pitch every time,” Jay smiled. He has 15 HBP this year, which leads all of baseball, but didn’t seem to mind his latest one. “All these wins are important. Any way we can find a win, we’ll take it.”

Matheny was visibly proud of his club after the win, saying though the string of one-run games can be bad for blood pressure, it toughens a team up. 

“I never write that off. Even when you’re on the wrong side of them there’s something that it does for a team,” he said.  “We’ve been able to be on the right side of a few lately, and I think that absolutely gives you that confidence to keep your nose down and keep playing.”

“I just think we’re playing better baseball right now,” Descalso said. “I think we’re just swinging the bats better and hopefully we can keep the momentum going.”

The Cardinals move to 11 games over .500 and continue to keep pace with the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. 

"Just the heart that you’re seeing right now is something that’s fun to watch,” Matheny said. “It’s a hard team not to love.”