Young blood pumps Cardinals to epic comeback over Pirates -

The kids are all right: Young blood pumps Cardinals to epic comeback in ninth

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ST. LOUIS (BaseballStL) -

Whenever you think you can tell the story of a game before it's actually over, it's important to keep in mind the participants still wield the power of a last-minute rewrite to the script.

From a game that was shaping up as a classic example of a lead lost, an opportunity squandered, the latest iteration of the Memphis Mafia forged an ending that the few who stuck around to see it won't soon forget.

How in the world did that happen?

With the final swing of a nine-inning game that lasted 3 hours and 43 minutes, Yairo Munoz hit a ball onto the grassy knoll that Freese made famous to rescue the Cardinals from a fate they probably deserved.

While Munoz played the unlikely hero—he said afterward it was the first walk-off homer of his life—the three-run blast that cemented a 10-8 win over the Pirates could only have come thanks to the inning's foundational moments that preceded it.

"You've got a lead 4-0 and then you watch that dwindle away," Mike Matheny said  "That kicks the wind out of you a little bit, but guys came in there confident in the fact that they were just going to go one at a time. Figure out a way to put pressure on, see if something could happen." 

Harrison Bader said he knew the Cardinals still had a chance to win it as soon as a he stepped into the box to lead off the ninth. Down 8-5, it was going to take a little more to convince the rest of us.

"Just get on base," Bader said he was thinking as he stepped in to spark the rally. "There's still a game to be played, obviously. We've been in that situation before, so down three runs, you've just got to pass the baton in that situation. Put the ball in play."

Bader did his part with a double down the line, and just like that, the seed was planted.

It was likely around that time that the gears began turning in Luke Voit's mind. Opportunity was about to knock.

"He's taken to that role," Matheny said. "As we saw that kinda coming down the line, thinking 'Luke's gonna get a chance to maybe do something here,' and you could see that it's something he was going to be ready for."

Tommy Pham reached on an error, and Marcell Ozuna walked, loading the bases. So the same day he was promoted back to the big leagues, Voit got his chance. He didn't waste it.

Voit cracked a soft liner into left in front of Pittsburgh's thoroughly no-doubles defense; by the time Corey Dickerson could make his way in from his position just in front of the warning track to retrieve the ball and return it to the infield, two runs had scored to make it 8-7.

"There are guys that get overwhelmed with situations like that. He's not one of them." Matheny said of Voit. "He had that look in his eye and couldn't wait to get back here and contribute."

Ozuna dove into third base on Voit's hit to represent the tying run with Munoz due up.

Of course, Ozuna's hustle play didn't end up making much difference. Munoz made sure that run, plus two more, were scoring no matter what. He made sure that after all the ups and downs on the evening, the Cardinals were going home with the W.

"It's something so big I cannot describe," Munoz said through a translator. "I cannot put it into words. I'm so happy for this moment." 

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