Jul 8, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong (16) celebrates with teammates after hitting a walk off solo home run off of Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri (not pictured) during the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. Cardinals defeated Pirates 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Momentum is one of the most important factors in any sport, and the St. Louis Cardinals all of a sudden have a ton of it.
Just days removed from a lackluster west coast trip and homecoming that saw them lose a series 2-1 to the Miami Marlins, the Cardinals have now won two-straight against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Both wins have come courtesy of walk-off home runs.
On Monday night, it was “Big City” Matt Adams who drove a two run shot into right field in the bottom of ninth inning. Those two runs were the Cardinals only two of the game, but they came when it mattered most for St. Louis.
Tonight, tied 4-4 once again in the bottom of the ninth, it was rookie second baseman Kolten Wong who came through in the clutch for St. Louis with a two-out home run.
For Wong, it was a night to remember. He helped the Cardinals gain the lead in the second inning with a two-out double that scored Jhonny Peralta and Oscar Taveras. His home run that gave the Cards the walk-off win went a whopping 402 feet. For the Cardinals, it was the first time since 2011 that they won two games in a row via walk-off home runs. I bet you can’t guess who hit both of those bombs way back then…
Carlos Martinez got the start for St. Louis, and he pitched for six innings. It was a rough outing for the lefty though, as he gave up 8 hits, 4 runs and 2 home runs. Pedro Alvarez took Martinez deep in the fourth inning with one on. Pirates’ star Andrew McCutchen hit his own two-run shot in the fifth.
The bullpen came through for St. Louis though, as Randy Choate, Seth Maness and All-Star Pat Neshek were able to pave the way for Trevor Rosenthal without giving up any damage. Rosenthal allowed two on with one out in the top of the ninth after giving up a hit and walk, but he ended up forcing a fly ball to center and striking out Starling Marte to end the Pirates’ threat. Rosenthal picked up the win, and is now 1-4 on the season.
Jul 8, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Trevor Rosenthal (26) throws to a Pittsburgh Pirates batter during the ninth inning at Busch Stadium. Cardinals defeated Pirates 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
With just five games left before the All-Star break, the Cardinals find themselves all of a sudden riding a nice wave of momentum. The Pirates will be in town for two more games, and then St. Louis travels to Milwaukee to face the division leading Brewers.
Coming into that series on a four-game winning streak would be huge for St. Louis, especially since every win against Milwaukee will allow them to make up ground for the divisional lead.
There’s no such thing as halftime in baseball. In sports that do have halftime breaks, though, going into it on a good note is always preferable. It just makes things easier.
For the Cardinals, the All-Star break is their proverbial halftime, and they have the chance to enter “the locker room” with a ton of positive energy and momentum. Winning these last two games against Pittsburgh is going to be very important for St. Louis. If the Cards can do that; the series up in Milwaukee will become one of the most vital ones in baseball leading up to the midway point.
Thankfully, things just may be turning around for St. Louis at the exact right time.