(BaseballStL) — Speed can make a lot of things easier, and Peter Bourjos used his to tie the game in the sixth for the Cardinals.
Despite the game turning into a war of attrition that lasted 12 innings, the stirrup-clad speedster's dynamic sixth inning was not forgotten after the game.
On your phone? Take the Cardinal coverage with you on the BaseballStL App
It was the second topic brought up to Mike Matheny as the clock crossed midnight, and the St. Louis manager was quick to praise Bourjos’ speed.
“That’s what he does,” he said. “It’s huge for us.”
Laying down a bunt back to the pitcher, the 27-year-old impossibly beat the throw, covering 90 feet in less time than it takes a phone to ring. For someone with that speed, bunts are a versatile tool. Unfortunately circumstances have kept Bourjos from utilizing it much in the first 40 games.
“I think bunting is something that’s gotten away from me a little bit this year,” he said after the game. “It was tough early when I was hitting in front of the pitcher, it didn’t really seem like there were too many opportunities.”
Once on, he moved to second after Mark Ellis softly grounded to first baseman Anthony Rizzo after an 11-pitch at bat.
At the conclusion of pinch-hitter Jon Jay’s 10-pitch walk, Bourjos stole third off pitcher Carlos Villanueva with such ease that fans could be forgiven for forgetting he wasn’t standing on it before the pitch.
“He was quick- he had quick feet coming over so it was tough to steal second,” Bourjos said. “Then he slowed down a little bit when I got to second base so it made it a little easier stealing third.”
Matt Carpenter seemingly grounded into a possible double play, only to be bailed out when Starlin Castro’s throw sailed wide into the the body of the sliding Jay, leaving everyone safe and Bourjos in the dugout having scored the tying run.
“His speed impacts the game even when you don’t see the stolen bases or the bunt base hit,” Matheny said. “You can tell they were slide stepping and doing some things they typically wouldn’t do. It does create a distraction for pitchers that aren’t naturally quick.”
For Bourjos, the free-running inning was something he hopes to start experiencing every night. With regular playing time comes familiarity and timing. Once a speedster has those two elements, they can wreak havoc on opposing teams.
“I think the more you get over there the more comfortable you’re going to be and the more opportunities you’ll get obviously. The biggest thing is just getting comfortable there,” he said. “Once you get in the rhythm and the timing of everything you’re going to be able to really steal some bags.”
Bourjos has three stolen bases on the season and 44 in his career.