Cardinals Crush Diamondbacks, Pujols Passes Musial for Second Place in Career Total Bases

Cardinals Diamondbacks

Cardinals 16, Diamondbacks 7

PHOENIX, Aug. 20 — On June 22, 1962, St. Louis Cardinals great Stan Musial broke Ty Cobb’s record for total bases in a career, tying it with a second-inning home run and breaking it with a single later in the same inning. When Musial retired at the end of the following season, he had 6,134. Only one player — Henry Aaron, who finished with 6,856 — had surpassed that mark since. Until Saturday night in Phoenix, that is, when Albert Pujols smacked career home run number 691 in, fittingly, the second inning. That homer scored the first run for the visiting Cardinals en route to a 16–7 shellacking of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Pujols later added his 692nd home run and two more singles, going 4-for-4 and running his career total bases to 6,143 in the rout.

Diamondbacks Take the Lead, Cardinals Respond

The Diamondbacks took a 2–0 lead in the bottom of the first off Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson. Designated hitter Emmanuel Rivera drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a follow-up single to right by second baseman Josh Rojas. First baseman Christian Walker drove Rivera in and advanced Rojas to second with a sacrifice fly to the warning track in center. After left fielder Jake McCarthy walked, catcher Carson Kelly singled, scoring Rojas as McCarthy advanced to third. Third baseman Sergio Alcantara ended the inning with a called strikeout, but not before Kelly stole a base for the first time in his major league career.

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Pujols passed Musial with one out in the top of the second, launching a first-pitch Madison Bumgarner fastball below the knees for a majestic 429-foot home run to the corner in deep left-center. The Cardinals tied the game in the top of the third after a one-out walk by right fielder Lars Nootbaar and singles by left fielder Tyler O’Neill and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

More Back-and-Forth

In the bottom of the third, the Diamondbacks retook the lead. Rivera drew another one-out walk. Rojas beat out a potential double-play grounder before Hudson hit Walker with a pitch. The two runners advanced to second and third when McCarthy grounded to second. Kelly brought both home with a single to center, making the score 4–2.

Pujols belted his next homer to lead off the fourth, hitting it in the same direction as his first but eight feet farther. Bumgarner retired the next two hitters, second baseman Tommy Edman and shortstop Paul DeJong, on a grounder to third and strikeout, respectively. Catcher Andrew Knizner — starting in place of Yadier Molina, who was placed on the restricted list for the weekend due to personal business — roped a double to left, extending the frame. He scored on a single to right by Nootbaar, tying the game at four.

Cardinals Take Comfortable Lead, Diamondbacks Narrow Gap

Bumgarner retook the mound in the sixth. Pujols led off with another hard hit, this time with a lower trajectory. It missed being career homer 693 by a few feet, hitting the wall on the fly. McCarthy caught the rebound and threw the ball in quickly enough to limit Pujols to a single. As Edman batted, Pujols, thinking he could catch Bumgarner and Kelly napping, tried to swipe second, but Kelly gunned him down. Edman ultimately walked, ending Bumgarner’s night.

In came Noe Ramirez, who retired DeJong on a fly to center before walking Knizner. This brought up Nootbaar, who ripped a drive into the right-field corner. Varsho had trouble coming up with the ball, muffing it twice. Everyone, including Nootbaar, scored on the play, which was ruled a triple plus a fielding error. A fine play by Ramirez on a bunt attempt by Carlson retired the side with the Cardinals holding a 7–4 lead. The lead swelled to 8–4 one inning later after a leadoff double by O’Neill, a stolen base, and a sacrifice fly from third baseman Nolan Arenado.

Jordan Hicks took the hill in the bottom of the eighth after 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from Genesis Cabrera and Andre Pallante. McCarthy welcomed him with a homer to the right-field bleachers. Kelly walked and reached third on a double by Alcantara. As Thomas batted, Kelly scored as Alcantara advanced to third on a wild pitch. Thomas singled Alcantara home, cutting the deficit to 8–7.

Hicks left the game without recording an out, giving way to Giovanny Gallegos. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo bunted Thomas over to second before Varsho grounded to the shortstop. With Thomas now on third, Rivera had a chance to tie the game but struck out swinging.

The Wheels Come Off

Mark Melancon, who entered the game with good numbers while trailing, took the mound in the top of the ninth hoping to keep the deficit at one. It did not go according to plan. Goldschmidt singled and advanced to third on a double by Arenado. Nolan Gorman, pinch-hitting for Pujols in a lefty-righty matchup, singled Goldschmidt home. Edman walked, loading the bases.

Out came manager Torey Lovullo with the hook, giving Melancon the dreaded runs-allowed-no-outs-recorded outing. In came Edwin Uceta to pitch to DeJong. DeJong sent the second pitch, a hung sinker right down the middle, into the left-field seats for his third career grand slam. This gave the Cardinals a 13–7 lead.

But they weren’t done yet. Knizner singled to right. Nootbaar walked. Carlson advanced them both with an unassisted groundout to first, making the first out of the inning despite being the eighth player to bat. O’Neill made the second out with a liner to second, bringing up Goldschmidt for the second time in the inning. He made the score 16–7 with a 383-foot homer to the right-field bleachers before Arenado fanned for the third out. JoJo Romero sealed the deal with a 1–2–3 ninth, striking out both Rojas and Walker before retiring McCarthy on a game-ending fly to left.

Postgame Reflections

Lovullo called it a “tough, tough day, all the way around.” He continued, “I thought that Bum got off to a nice start, attacking the zone, but started to stumble in the middle innings. Had a clean fifth, thought I could send him back out there to collect some outs in the six, but it didn’t work out. In hindsight, it’s probably a decision that I needed to reverse, start to maneuver into the bullpen, and keep us in a situation where we could stay in the game.

“We scored some runs, doing a good job attacking their starting pitcher. And we were in the ballgame. We fell down several runs and closed the gap up in the eighth, but obviously everything blew up on us in the ninth. It’s a tough loss. It was very intense there, and we were very close to tying the game. But we got to find a way to digest what happened, not let things pile up on us, get through the night, and be ready to play again tomorrow morning.”

Lovullo marveled at Pujols’ feat. “It’s unbelievable. When you’re talking about names like that, names that we (himself and the writers, who ranged in age from mid-20s to early 60s) all grew up admiring and reading about, and today’s generation only hears and knows that they’re legends, that’s a pretty impressive feat.”

Madison Bumgarner

Bumgarner felt that he threw better in this game than he did on some days where he had great results. “It’s frustrating, and it’s hard to understand sometimes. I’ve gone out there with much worse stuff and worse command and had a scoreless outing. This game, sometimes, is very frustrating.”

Later, he added, “Like I said, I thought I threw the ball better today than I have in the past few starts. But with the same results, it doesn’t mean much. That’s a good team. They’re hot right now. They see lefties well, but that’s no excuse. I’m not out there trying to give credit to other guys. I have to find a way to do better.”

When someone pointed out that the Pujols home runs didn’t look like they came on bad pitches, Bumgarner agreed. “The first one was kind of middle, but it was down on the first pitch of the at-bat. On the next one, I missed my spot. But I missed it badly enough that it actually wound up being a good pitch to a spot that typically gets a lot of swings and misses. I don’t know. Sometimes, it’s just your day.”

Carson Kelly

“Hitting is contagious,” Kelly said about the Cardinals’ offensive outburst. “They found some holes there. Got in some really good counts. Put some really good swings on pitches over the plate. They didn’t miss.”

Kelly feels that Bumgarner, despite going through a tough stretch currently, will figure it out. “We play a lot of games, so there’s gonna be some ups and downs. But he’s a competitor. He goes out there and does his thing. I have no doubt he’s going to continue to work hard during these next couple days before his next one. Tune up a little bit.”

Looking Ahead

Cabrera (4–2) earned the win in relief while Bumgarner (6–13) took the loss. The Cardinals (68–51) and Diamondbacks (55–65) meet again Sunday for the final time of the season. Jose Quintana (4–5, 3.38 ERA, 105 K) and Merrill Kelly (10–5, 2.81 ERA, 122 K) will start for the Cardinals and Diamondbacks, respectively, in a lefty-righty matchup. First pitch will be at 1:10 pm Arizona Time.

Main Photo Credits:

PHOENIX, Aug. 20 — St. Louis Cardinals designated hitter Albert Pujols waits on deck as teammate Nolan Arenado lines out to third, ending the top of the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. (Photo by Evan Thompson)

Players/managers mentioned:

Stan Musial, Ty Cobb, Henry Aaron, Albert Pujols, Dakota Hudson, Emmanuel Rivera, Josh Rojas, Christian Walker, Jake McCarthy, Carson Kelly, Sergio Alcantara, Madison Bumgarner, Lars Nootbaar, Paul Goldschmidt, Tommy Edman, Paul DeJong, Andrew Knizner, Yadier Molina, Noe Ramirez, Nolan ArenadoJordan Hicks, Genesis Cabrera, Andre Pallante, Giovanny Gallegos, Geraldo Perdomo, Mark Melancon, Nolan Gorman, Torey Lovullo, Edwin Uceta, JoJo Romero, Jose Quintana, Merrill Kelly