The fireworks were just an inning early and a touch dramatic, but not ultimately wrong.
The real ruckus came in the 10th.
One inning after Nolan Arenado lasered a hit to left field that caromed off the wall, not over it for a walk-off homer as the burst above the scoreboard suggested, Paul Goldschmidt put the scoreboard and all the fireworks it had to offer to work. The Cardinals’ first baseman, his game leaden with three strikeouts and a double play, turned on a pitch and sent it over that same wall for a game-ending grand slam.
Goldschmidt’s home run off lefty Ryan Borucki sent the Cardinals to a 7-3 victory against Toronto on Monday at Busch Stadium. Goldschmidt’s seventh career grand slam was also his seventh career walk-off hit and seventh career extra-inning home run. In the last swing of the game, Goldschmidt also extended his on-base streak to 29 games.
The walk-off grand slam was the first by a Cardinal since Matt Carpenter’s in 2017, and that also came against the Blue Jays.
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Goldschmidt fell behind in the count 1-2 before turning on the pitch that would decide the game. Ahead of him, the Cardinals got the winning run to third base with no outs, only to see the rally sputter — and potentially stall. Tommy Edman and pinch-hitter Edmundo Sosa revived it with two two-out walks to give Goldschmidt a fifth at-bat and final chance to impact the score.
In the top of the 10th inning, Brendan Donovan, who has started all over the field for the Cardinals and had a shortstop cameo, made a diving catch in right field to keep the Blue Jays from scoring a go-ahead run. With two runners on, Bo Bichette, the second-generation batter the Cardinals challenged by walking Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ahead of him, lashed a line drive toward the right-field line. Donovan dove to catch the ball before it hit the checkerboard pattern in the outfield grass.
A pitcher’s duel veered briefly into a brief, gift-giving spree by the Cardinals until winding back into a contest of bullpens trying not to blink.
Both starters, Miles Mikolas and Toronto’s Jose Berrios, dictated the tempo of their half innings. Mikolas tirelessly pounded the strike zone and got the game through 6 2/3 innings. He struck out five, and didn’t really get in trouble until his final inning and the free bases started. Berrios also got the game into the seventh inning for the Blue Jays, pitching 6 1/3 innings, avoiding walks entirely, and striking out seven. He left with a lead that did not last, and both starters were tagged with three runs.
The Cardinals’ rally began around the rookies and radiated from there.
Down by two runs — both of them ushered homer with bases-loaded walks — the Cardinals stirred to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and it began with a swing by a newcomer. Juan Yepez scorched a pitch from Berrios with one out to cut into the Blue Jays’ lead. The homer, Yepez’s fourth of the season in the majors, left his bat at 112.7 mph — the top exit velocity measured this year for a Cardinals’ homer. Donovan, another rookie, followed with a single, and then the inning sped up on Berrios.
Corey Dickerson singled to put Donovan, the potential tying run, at third base and chase Berrios from the game after 6 1/3 innings.
Adam Cimber relieved Berrios with runners at the corners and quickly fell behind to Harrison Bader. The Cardinals’ No. 8 hitter did not get the take sign on Cimber’s 3-0 pitch, so he didn’t. Bader lashed a single to right field to turn the 3-0 pitch into a 3-3 tie.
By the end of the fifth inning, both starters had gone twice through the opponent’s lineup, faced 18 batters, and squeezed 15 outs from them. What neither starter had done was thrown a 70th pitch.
Mikolas helped give the game such alacrity once he hopscotched out of the first inning. Guerrero worked a five-pitch walk from Mikolas with out in the first to push the game’s second batter into scoring position. In a bind before he got a second out, Mikolas started peppering the Blue Jays with strikes — and never really stopped. He got a fly out and a strikeout to end the first inning without allowing a run. Mikolas then retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced.
Eight of those outs didn’t get the ball out of the infield.
Few of those batters saw as many as four pitches.
Mikolas retired six batters in order on a total of 20 pitches to bring the game to the sixth inning. He had thrown only 60 pitches total and kept the Blue Jays scoreless through five.
His 62nd pitch ended that.
Greeted by boos each time he came to the plate due to his prominent spot in Houston’s lineup during the sign-stealing scandal in 2017, Springer headed back to the dugout escorted by cheers in his first two at-bats. Mikolas struck out Springer to start the game and struck out Springer to assert control of the third inning. When Springer came up to lead off the sixth inning, he struck back. Toronto’s designated hitter tagged a 1-0 slider from Mikolas for a solo homer to the seats beyond the left-field wall. That knotted the game 1-1 and it shaped the Cardinals’ decision in the seventh when Springer once again came up with Mikolas on the mound.
What little chance Mikolas had of facing Springer for a fourth time in the game vanished when he hit the Jays’ No. 9 hitter, Bradley Zimmer. That loaded the bases. Mikolas’ 99th pitch was thus his last.
Rookie Andre Pallante, the first of the seven Cardinals this season (so far) to make their big-league debuts, had one out to get to finish the seventh inning.
He also had to deal with the bases loaded.
He made it worse before he made it end.
Pallante walked Springer on five pitches to force home the tiebreaking run, give Springer his second RBI of the game, and conjure tremors from last year’s record-setting walk-fest. The Cardinals set a modern record with 29 bases-loaded walks in 2021. That’s 29 guaranteed runs, free of charge.
Pallante added a second to Monday’s game when he walked Santiago Espinal to force home Toronto’s third run. All three runs were credited to Mikolas’ line, but two scored after he left the mound. The Blue Jays got one hit in the inning when they took the lead and didn’t need any more because the Cardinals presented three walks and a hit batter, assuring the bases couldn’t hold all of the gifts. As with many capacity limits, the overflow had to head home.