When a nine-inning games last 3 hours, 50 minutes, there are plenty of layers.
That was the case Thursday when the St. Louis Cardinals got off the deck in the ninth inning and scored three runs for a 9-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Jhonny Peralta’s two-run single against John Axford made it 8-8, and Greg Garcia’s bases-loaded walk three batters later, also against Axford, scored Kolten Wong with the game-winner.
It was an important win for the Cardinals (65-37), who had been limited to seven runs in their five games and had been blanked Tuesday and Wednesday by the Cincinnati Reds.
“Everybody, individually, is going to go through ups and downs throughout the course of the season, and this team, collectively, is going to go through ups and downs,” Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said after he went 4-for-5 with two home runs, a double and four RBIs from the leadoff spot in the order. “We’ve been fortunate so far to not really go through a bad stretch. We don’t have any long losing streaks or anything like that.”
Carpenter, who batted leadoff for the first time since July 12 at Pittsburgh, said the team was “not concerned” about its recent offensive malaise.
“Guys weren’t pushing the panic button,” he said. “We know what kind of team we have. We know what we’re capable of. We just go out and play.”
Carpenter has a career-high 12 home runs, two behind club leader Peralta. Newcomer Brandon Moss had 15 with the Cleveland Indians.
Martinez loses cool
Carlos Martinez lasted just five innings and allowed five runs (earned) on 10 hits. The right-hander lost control of his emotions in the fifth, almost igniting a brawl.
The Rockies grabbed a 5-4 lead on Corey Dickerson’s single to left-center, and Martinez then hit D.J. Lemahieu with a pitch, leading to warnings for both benches.
Ben Paulsen grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, and Martinez, claiming he heard a Colorado player yell at him, made a disrespectful gesture to the Rockies bench. That led to a heated conversation at home plate between Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, but the two reached an understanding and parted way.
Martinez apologized for his actions after the game.
“I’m not that kind of person,” he said.
The Cardinals made it clear that they want Martinez to stop the antics.
“That’s that double-edged sword,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said, acknowledging that Martinez was out of control. “His emotions make him fun to watch. I think they help him at times; they give him a push. But if it continues to go in a direction that you don’t harness and you can’t get back under control, it snowballs in a rough direction.”
Matheny called it a “learned process” Martinez continues to work through.
“We’ve seen him much, much better as you look through this season. Less of those sort of outings where things do snowball,” Matheny said. “He’s been terrific. Today was one of those, fortunately, where he and we didn’t end up with a loss.”
Moss makes debut
Moss, traded to the Cardinals from the Cleveland Indians on Thursday morning, flew from Oakland to St. Louis and arrived at Busch Stadium about 5 p.m.
Moss didn’t start, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth. He remained in the game, taking over for Mark Reynolds at first base, and finished 0-for-2.
Moss, 31, was on fumes. He said he received word of the trade late Wednesday night after the Indians already had arrived in Oakland from Cleveland, where they defeated Kansas City 12-1.
“It was a whirlwind of a day, but I don’t think it could have ended in any better way,” said Moss, who didn’t sleep after learning about the trade but was feeling great after the Cardinals’ resilient win. “That was so exciting. You’re down two in the ninth and you see the guys go up there and have great at-bats and battle. There was never a doubt we were not right there in it.”
Moss said he is happy to be in St. Louis.
“I was shocked (by the trade). I was thrilled,” Moss said. “Things weren’t going the way we wanted them to (in Cleveland). It had been a tough year. To be able to come over to this situation, with this group of guys and this organization, you can’t ask for anything better.”
Moss batted .217 with 17 doubles, 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 94 games. The 2014 American League All-Star had struck out 106 times in 337 at-bats.
“It’s been a tough one,” Moss said. “It’s just been very up and down, very inconsistent. I feel like the numbers could be better than they are, but the numbers are what they are. I’m not disappointed in myself. I know I’m still grinding out at-bats and I know that I’m still hitting a lot of fly balls, driving balls. But obviously, I would like to get more hits and I would like to turn some of those strikeouts into walks or better at-bats with some hits.”
Garcia walks off
Garcia was promoted from Class AAA Memphis before the game and found himself in the middle of the action. He grounded into a fielder’s choice as a pinch-hitter in the eighth, stayed in the game to play third base, then coaxed the game-winning walk in the ninth.
“Obviously, (Axford) was having some trouble finding the strike zone,” Garcia said. “I was just going to be very selective. I was looking for one pitch. I wasn’t going to try to do to much with it, just try to put the barrel on it. We had a fast guy, Kolten Wong, at third. It wasn’t going to take a deep fly ball to score him. I just tried to do my best.”
On May 13, 2014, Garcia was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 12th inning to give the Cardinals a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs. On June 26 of this season, he hit a game-tying home run against the Cubs in the eighth inning of a game the Cardinals won 3-2.
“Just being out there, you gain confidence,” Garcia said. “Just getting in those spots and getting comfortable have huge value later on in the season and for the rest of my career.”