Edman absolves Cardinals’ bases-loaded woes with walk-off hit Sunday

St. Louis Cardinals' Willson Contreras, center right, hugs Tommy Edman, center left, after...
St. Louis Cardinals' Willson Contreras, center right, hugs Tommy Edman, center left, after victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates with a walkoff single to end a baseball game Sunday, April 16, 2023, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Le)(Jeff Le | AP)
Published: Apr. 16, 2023 at 5:32 PM CDT
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Miles Mikolas was on ice-bucket duty when Tommy Edman delivered the 10th-inning swing that St. Louis hopes will be the one to turn its RISP luck around for good.

If it had been a younger player⁠—like Jordan Walker, for instance⁠—the St. Louis starter claims he would have shown no mercy in dousing him. But on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium, Mikolas said he considered Edman’s more veteran status with the team before letting him off easy.

“I was out there with the ice bucket and then right as I was about to throw it, I felt kind of bad⁠—because it was so cold,” Mikolas said. “So I kind of just yanked it to the side and threw most of the ice in the grass.”

The Cardinals were 1-for-16 with the bases loaded on the season before Edman stroked a base hit through Pittsburgh’s drawn-in infield alignment to walk off the Pirates, 5-4 in extra innings. The St. Louis shortstop busted out of his own personal 0-fer with runners in scoring position with the single, having gone 0-for-14 with RISP prior to his game-winning at-bat.

“It was huge,” Edman said of the importance of the Cardinals securing a win like Sunday’s given their recent struggles. “I feel like we really didn’t play that poorly this trip. We had a lot of bounces that didn’t go our way and we didn’t have many clutch hits. We had a lot of opportunities, especially today, and didn’t cash in early, myself included. So it felt good to be able to get that clutch hit.”

Prior to Edman’s chance, Nolan Gorman roped what would have been the game-winning two-run double to right field⁠—until the ball bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double, forcing the second run to retreat to third base. Knowing his spot was looming as a possibility to come up in the inning, Edman was ready for his moment against Pittsburgh reliever Wil Crowe following a Walker strikeout.

“I had just been taking notice of how he pitched the other guys earlier in the inning,” Edman said. “Just paying attention to the trends and trying to sit on a certain pitch⁠—and fortunately, that’s what I got.”

St. Louis entered the last of the 10th facing a 4-3 deficit despite reliever Drew VerHagen not allowing a base runner in the top of the inning. It was the runner provided by a rule change that first went into effect during the COVID-shortened 2020 season came around to score to give the Pirates the lead.

VerHagen produced three groundouts in the inning. On the second of the three, with the ‘Manfred Man’ at third base, Paul Goldschmidt appeared compelled to try for the sensational play at home on a grounder up the first base line⁠—but he couldn’t cleanly field the chopper. The Cardinals settled for the out at first, meaning the Cardinals would need two runs in their half of the inning to send the fans home happy.

Edman got it done to give a needed lift to the Cardinals’ clubhouse.

“It’s good to be able to walk somebody off,” Cardinals’ manager Oli Marmol said. “It gives you energy. It definitely makes for a much-better Sunday, I’ll tell you that. So hopefully we build off of this⁠—and keep running.”

It was another grinding outing for a St. Louis starter as Mikolas fell one out short of getting through the sixth inning. But the runs he permitted came in unusual ways. On the first batter of the game, Lars Nootbaar came up empty on a diving attempt in shallow center field, allowing Pittsburgh’s Ke’Bryan Hayes to scamper all the way to third with a cheap triple. He later scored on a sacrifice fly.

In the second, Mikolas allowed his second and final earned run of the game on a single served into left field by Austin Hedges. The RBI hit for the ninth-place hitter in the Pirates’ lineup came following one of Tucupita Marcano’s two walks against Mikolas in the game.

“There was a force field around the strike zone for him today. It was just weird,” Mikolas conceded of the Marcano at-bats. “I couldn’t throw anything for a strike, for no particular reason.”

The strange vibes extended beyond Mikolas’ presence in the game as the St. Louis starter picked up an unearned run during Marcano’s at-bat in the sixth inning. Reliever Andre Pallante got the precise ground ball he sought from Marcano, but Brendan Donovan bobbled it for an error, allowing Pittsburgh to pick up its third run of the game.

Though Mikolas said he doesn’t necessarily love the fact he was as happy about a 5.2-inning, three-run outing as he was, it was notable to the veteran starter to have one where the nickels and dimes finally didn’t add up to substantial damage against him.

“I feel like I’ve had a few games where the ways the runs are coming in are not typical,” Mikolas said. “And they’re kind of coming in on weak contact. So after my last outing, I said there’s not a whole lot I’m trying to change, here⁠—just almost looking for a change of fortune.”

With the Cardinals down 3-1 and looking for a big swing in the bottom half of the sixth inning, Lars Nootbaar found one. The breakout sensation of this spring’s World Baseball Classic provided the Cardinals with a moment worthy of ground pepper, launching his first home run of the season to right field to tie the score, 3-3.

Nootbaar opened the game as the Cardinals’ center fielder but shifted to left field later in the contest after fellow outfielder Alec Burleson left the game with an injury. Burleson fouled a ball off his shin and despite finishing the at-bat, was removed from the game without returning to the field defensively.

The Cardinals initially listed Burleson as day-to-day. The outfielder assured reporters after the game that he was fine physically following the stinger.