ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) — It appeared, at first glance, like a strikeout.
Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado swung over the top of a pitch by Joey Lucchesi to put an apparent end to the bottom of the third inning between the Cards and Mets at Busch Stadium Monday. But after Arenado successfully pleaded his case with home plate umpire Mark Carlson that he had, in fact, gotten a piece of the pitch for a foul tip, his at-bat wasn’t over—and neither was the inning.
“I definitely nicked it,” Arenado said. “I’m just happy Mark heard it. There’s no way he saw it. But he heard it, too. Even (Tomas) Nido, I think he knew I fouled it off, also.
“Thank God he heard that, because that wouldn’t have been good.”
That which nearly ended the threat instead allowed Arenado new life at the plate. Immediately following his narrow reprieve, the 30-year-old slugger turned on the next offering from Lucchesi for a loud, but harmless, foul ball off the façade of the second deck down the left field line.
It turns out, he was just dialing in the coordinates for his next swing.
Two pitches after the barely-there foul ball, Arenado culminated his seven-pitch at-bat with a thunderous blast. He sent a game-tying three-run shot into the visiting bullpen, energizing the crowd as he cashed in on a rally that was built from scratch, with two outs the entire way.
“Once you see a guy working an at-bat like that, what he’s basically doing is working to get a good pitch,” Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. “The deeper it goes, the better chance he’s got of getting one, making that guy work. Guy’s in a jam, guy’s taking a tough at-bat. Next thing you know, he gets a pitch he can handle and didn’t miss it.”
The makings of the momentous rally began innocently enough with a Dylan Carlson single into the opposite field. Paul Goldschmidt then lined the first pitch he saw into center, the ball just evading the grasp of a diving Kevin Pillar to set up Arenado with runners on first and third.
Disproving the sarcastic notion that home runs are rally-killers, Paul DeJong and Tyler O’Neill then rode the buzz from Arenado’s second curtain call of the season to another run. The pair stroked consecutive doubles to give the Cardinals the 6-5 advantage that would ultimately hold steady for the duration of the game.
“Two outs, nobody on, 0-2 count and then we score four runs,” Shildt said. “Speaks to how this club will fight and how we answered back. Good team win.”
No news on Hicks, yet
Though the Cardinals had anticipated sharing more information on the condition of hard-throwing reliever Jordan Hicks during the post-game Monday, a definitive update will have to wait until Tuesday as the Cardinals manager didn’t elaborate on the results of Hicks’ imaging.
"I want to be able to understand it better before I communicate it publicly,” Shildt said.
The 24-year-old right-hander had been removed from his outing Saturday with inflammation in his surgically-repaired elbow. “Arm tightness” was another phrase used to describe his status Saturday.
“The images, not as clear as maybe we would like,” Shildt said of the results. “And I haven’t been able to talk to the medical group, so I’m going to leave it at that.”
The Cardinals have listed Johan Oviedo as the starter for Tuesday’s game against the Mets. Because he was optioned out within the past 10 days, the only way Oviedo would be eligible to rejoin the roster for Tuesday is with an addition to the injured list as the corresponding move. Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak declined earlier Monday to give specifics on the team’s plans for that move, but it would seem Hicks is a likely candidate, regardless of the severity of his current injury.
Hey, who turned out the lights?
Alex Reyes brought new meaning to the phrase ‘lights-out closer’ when the lights at Busch Stadium literally went out as he stood on the mound preparing to throw a one-strike pitch with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning Monday.
“That’s bizarre,” Shildt said. “Thank God a pitch wasn’t in mid-flight or a ball wasn’t going in the air for a fly ball or something like that to end the game—What do you do? What happens, then?”
It’s a fair question posed by the Cardinals manager—I asked the same thing on Twitter prior to Shildt echoing the quandary during his post-game Zoom. Fortunately, we didn’t have to learn the answer on Monday. The lights came back on after a brief delay and Reyes eventually finished out the inning to secure his eighth save of the season.
“Anyway, I have no explanation for it,” Shildt concluded on the topic.
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