Cardinals: How Juan Yepez delivered on his Mother’s Day promise
Inside how St. Louis Cardinals rookie Juan Yepez’s first big-league homer and how he delivered on his Mother’s Day promise.
In the hours before the St. Louis Cardinals played the Giants at Oracle Park, Juan Yepez turned to his mother and said “Mom, I’m going to try to hit a home run or do something special for you today.”
In the second inning, Yepez came through. He smacked a low first-pitch sinker from Giants starter Jakob Junis to right-center field, the deepest part of the ballpark in San Francisco, and while it looked like outfielder Mike Yastrzemski had a bead on it, the ball comfortably sailed into the waiting arms of reliever Nick Wittgren in the Cardinals bullpen.
It was the latest moment in what has been a dazzling start for Yepez, who was called up on Tuesday. He is hitting .474/.500/.790 with a 1.290 OPS (9 for 19) with one home run and three RBI. He went 2 for 4 with two RBI and a walk on Sunday and has given a struggling Cardinals lineup the boost it desperately needed.
While it was unclear how long Yepez would be up with the Cardinals, it now looks like he is here to stay. How could he not be? In addition to his bat, he has played both right and left field (two games) and been their designated hitter in three other games. With Dylan Carlson and Tyler O’Neill struggling, his presence has taken some of the pressure off them to perform.
Of course, O’Neill will bounce back. Carlson should, too. And when that time comes, manager Oli Marmol is going to have to navigate the surplus of depth on his roster and find playing time for each of them. But it’s a good problem to have and, in all likelihood, the bulk of Yepez’s at-bats will come at DH.
Which is exactly what everyone expected entering the regular season. Sure, he’ll sacrifice some at-bats to Albert Pujols and Corey Dickerson, but having those three options off the bench on most nights is a luxury that few teams have.
The Cardinals certainly didn’t have it last year. They have it now, and it should pay dividends as the season goes on.
But we have seen what Yepez can do when he’s in the starting lineup, and it just so happened to be the most important moment of his career: he delivered on his Mother’s Day promise.