Cardinals walk-off on Blue Jays with Goldschmidt grand slam in 10th

Goldschmidt extended the Cardinals’ winning streak to four games and his hitting streak to 15 games with one extra-inning swing on Monday night.
St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home...
St. Louis Cardinals' Paul Goldschmidt is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Monday, May 2, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 12:53 AM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - After grounding into a double play and striking out three times in regulation on Monday night at Busch Stadium, Cardinals’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt needed extra innings to extend his recent hitting streak to a 15th consecutive game.

“Five outs in four at-bats—that’s not what you want to do,” Goldschmidt lamented regarding his night prior to stepping into the box against Toronto Blue Jays lefty Ryan Borucki with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning.

With the chance to send the Cardinals home with a fourth-straight win hanging in the balance, Goldschmidt hearkened back to his mantra, his ever-steady mentality: Never let the result of a previous at-bat dictate what happens in the current one.

“You don’t really have any other choice,” Goldschmidt said. “I try to do it every day. Today was an extreme example of that.”

Goldschmidt fell behind into a 1-2 count before jumping on a slider that caught too much of the plate. His swing could be instantly identified as a game-winning one—it took only a couple of beats longer for confirmation that he had left the yard, sneaking a line drive over the left-field wall for a walk-off grand slam as the Cardinals beat the Blue Jays, 7-3.

The slam was the Cardinals’ first walk-off grand slam since Matt Carpenter hit one in the first game of a doubleheader at Busch Stadium back on April 27, 2017—also against the Toronto Blue Jays. This one brings Goldschmidt’s total to five home runs and 22 RBIs over his present 15-game hitting streak, as he has increased his season-long OPS to .976.

Pretty remarkable considering that one month ago, his OPS was below .600.

“To start the game the way he did and then to stay locked in enough to take that at-bat at the end of the game and win it—is impressive,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said of Goldschmidt. “What’s cool about today is, he strikes out several times and he’s still in the dugout—upbeat, smiling, having fun. That’s a player that’s confident in what he’s able to do. That was fun to watch today.”

The stage for Goldschmidt’s late heroics would not have been set if not for the latest round of contributions from the 2022 version of the Memphis Mafia. Though rookie reliever Andre Pallante struggled initially in relief of Cardinals starter Miles Mikolas, walking in a pair of inherited runners to give Toronto a 3-1 lead, he bore down on the next batter to escape the seventh inning without further damage. That closed the line on Mikolas at 6.2 innings and three earned runs—his sixth quality start of the season.

Needing a boost to claw their way back into the game, the Cardinals got it from rookies Juan Yepez and Brendan Donovan in the bottom of the seventh. Yepez first put a jolt back into the crowd with a solo home run to cut the deficit to one run.

“Yepez smoked that ball to left,” Marmol said. “That ball was hammered. That’s another guy who, pitch to pitch, is making adjustments. You can see him step out and kind of—there’s something about that at-bat that was nice. Outside the homer, just to being able to slow it down a little more. He’s done a nice job.”

Donovan followed Yepez in the batting order, stroking his second hit of the night to spark the next rally. He came around to score the tying run on a Harrison Bader single later in the inning. Donovan then came through again in the top of the 10th, this time with a run-saving defensive play.

Typically an infielder, Donovan got the start in right field Monday as the Cardinals explore every avenue to keep his red-hot bat—he’s now hitting .340 with an OPS over 1.000 with St. Louis this season—in the lineup. Though Marmol said after the game that there was consideration given to swapping in outfielder Lars Nootbaar off the bench as a defensive replacement for Donovan in the late innings, the team valued the at-bats Donovan was taking enough to risk the perception of a downgrade to their outfield defense by keeping him in the game.

Donovan rewarded that faith with a tremendous sliding catch in shallow right field to take away a Toronto run and keep the game tied in the 10th inning.

For the Cardinals, the consistency of the contributions from young players like Yepez and Donovan in recent weeks has been a testament to the mentality that both of them bring to the ballpark each night. And it’s a mentality that Marmol believes is contagious among the rest of this Cardinals team.

“I think they’re built right,” Marmol said. “Both of those guys are competitors. If you look at our lineup, we have a lineup of competitors. Are they going to go through streaks where they’re not great? Absolutely. But their mentality and overall determination and work ethic will play them out of it.

“Right now, we’re seeing a really good version of all of our young guys. I see that continuing.”