(BaseballStL) — Shane Robinson has been up and down enough times to have the road signs between Memphis and St. Louis memorized.
After a memorable turn in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS, he became part of St. Louis lore- a journeyman no longer, he was someone even casual fans knew.
Robinson began the season on the big club, but after a rough start and inconsistent playing time, he was sent to AAA once more, another measure played in the I-55 shuffle.
He returned Wednesday, having shredded AAA pitching and earning his way back to the Cardinal clubhouse despite competing with a star-studded outfield one tier below.
Thursday he got his first start since coming back, and reminded everyone why they cheered so loudly last October.
“Shane had a big night,” Mike Matheny said. “When you give a guy an opportunity like Shane Robinson, he’s a good player all the way around. It was nice to see him go and get some work in AAA and see him be locked in and get an opportunity to show what he’s been doing.”
In the bottom of the sixth, the Cardinals trailed 2-0. It may have been 1-0 had Yadier Molina been able to handle a laser from Robinson in the first when Martin Prado tried to tag and score on a fly ball to right.
As it was, the ball disappeared into the foul pole in the background, and took a funny hop to Molina's glove. Prado scored and St. Louis found itself trying to dig out of a hole late, and the 29-year-old outfielder was holding the shovel.
With Allen Craig and Jhonny Paralta on second and third, Robinson stepped in for the biggest at bat of the night.
“I was just kind of telling myself ‘hey just let it get to you,’” he said. “‘He’s probably not going to give you too much to hit just get something early you can drive.” He got what he was looking for, ripping a ball in the left center gap to tie the game.
Once again, he had brought Busch Stadium to its feet despite being no taller than most people in the stands.
For a victory lap, he singled in the eight inning with a sharp grounder in the hole. He then proceeded to torment reliever Randall Delgado from first base, drawing four throws over to first and a step off the rubber. He moved on to second on a tapper by Mark Ellis, then flew around to score on a Matt Carpenter single into center for an insurance run.
It was quite a performance in his first start since returning to St. Louis, and the versatile outfielder said having the whole game to work with certainly made things easier.
“Usually off the bench you’re going to get that one pitch and you gotta be ready to hit it and if not you have to battle the whole time,” he said. “When you’re starting you see the guy and you can come in here and look at the film between innings and see what he’s doing to guys, his movement, things like that. You just have a better idea of what he’s trying to do and what his pitches look like whereas off the bench you just go out and try to hit a barrel.”
With Thursday’s showing, he may just find himself in the lineup more often against lefties. Mike Matheny smiled coyly when asked if Robinson had played himself into a starting role against Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani.
“He’s got a shot,” he said.
Robinson, though he likes the chances to start, isn’t concerned with his role so long as its set in St. Louis.
“Whatever they see fit for me to do I’m ready to do,” he said. “As long as I’m up here and helping the team, it doesn’t really matter to me.”