When Luke Voit arrived in St. Louis, he described himself as a power hitter who planned to supply the Cardinals with dingers and doubles during his stint in the big leagues.
The doubles came right away; his first dinger waited until Monday.
In the eighth inning of a game already decided in the Cardinals favor, Voit launched his first career major league home run to straightaway center field. It was a 429-foot moonshot inspired by Mark McGwire, resembling Sammy Sosa, and landing on Freese’s Lawn.
“It’s one of those swings where you don’t even feel it,” Voit said. “Unbelievable feeling. I’m super pumped.”
Voit hit the only home run hit in a 14-6 rout of the Marlins, and according to starter Adam Wainwright, the 26-year-old Wildwood native got his money’s worth on the blast.
“It was great, he had a little Sammy Sosa when he hit that ball to center,” Wainwright said of Voit’s home run swing. “He’s hit a few homers–he knows when he gets ‘em. But I’m glad he got to do that here for his first one.”
Voit had little success in hiding his elation as he rounded the bases, an aspect of his evening that carried over to his post-game descriptions of the big moment with reporters. Told of Wainwright’s description of his home run, Voit wanted to clarify that any celebratory pose was unintentional–he merely succumbed to the joy of the moment.
“I’m not trying to show anyone up, but that’s just one where it feels so good, you just knew you got it… I don’t know,” Voit laughed, “but it felt good.”
After the ball landed on the grass beyond the center field wall, one of the Busch Stadium ushers outraced a fan to retrieve it, and returned it to the man who had sent it there shortly after the game. Voit said this ball will go to his mom, since his dad received the ball from his first hit. Voit's family was in attendance Monday to soak in the moment.
For Voit–a St. Louis Redbird as a young ballplayer growing up in the area, and a graduate of Lafayette High–blasting a home run at Busch Stadium was a moment he’d dreamed of his whole life.
“It’s been a dream since I can remember, from my first game coming here," he said.
On Monday, Voit made that lifelong dream a reality–and there was nothing cheap about it.
“I was looking for something, I knew he was going to try and blow it by me again, so I was ready for it.”
Monday’s power display is something Cardinals fans can come to expect from Voit. During his four-plus seasons in the minors, Voit mashed 53 career home runs, with 31 of those bombs coming since the beginning of 2016. That uptick coincides with the development of his approach to hitting, which he fine-tuned in the higher levels of the minors.
“I try to stay middle to right field instead of trying to get too pull-happy, because then I can get myself in trouble sometimes,” Voit said. “I’m just trying to stay up the middle with everything. I’m trying to lift the ball obviously, not hit the ball on the ground, because that’s usually an out with my speed. Something I learned the last two years in Double-AA and Triple-AAA.”
Monday was the first time Matt Carpenter received a start at second base this season, which allowed Voit to get the start at first. With depleted infield depth and a need for a consistent force in the middle of the batting order, the Cardinals could offer Voit extended run by moving Carpenter elsewhere on the diamond.
Though it would denote sacrificing defense at the expense of offense–something the Cardinals set out to avoid when this season began–Voit as the regular first baseman might make the most sense for St. Louis leading into the All-Star Break.