D-backs blown out by St. Louis behind outstanding performances from Cardinals greats
PHOENIX — It was a combination of legends propelling St. Louis to a 16-7 throttling Saturday as the Arizona Diamondbacks (55-65) fell to the Cardinals (68-51) in front of 34,248 fans at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Albert Pujols, in his 22nd and final season of his storied career, was the catalyst for the Cardinals early in the game. He touched up D-backs starter Madison Bumgarner for two home runs. He hit his 691st home run of his career deep to center to bring the Cardinals within one in the second inning. With the homer, he passed another Cardinals legend, Stan Musial, for second all-time in total bases.
Pujols was not finished turning back the clock. With St. Louis trailing 4-2 in the fourth, Pujols hit his 692nd career home run to practically the same spot he hit his first of the night to bring the Cardinals within one of Arizona yet again.
“It’s a credit to him and all that hard work he puts in,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said postgame. “When you are on the same field as somebody that’s going to be in the Hall of Fame eventually, you feel that impact and he doesn’t let anybody down, mostly himself.
“Because he’s going out there at a very high level and competing and I’ve been saying it for a couple days now, I’m honored to be on the same field as him. He’s not letting the fans down, he’s not letting his teammates down and he’s certainly holding himself to his own very high standard, which is very impressive.”
The Cardinals designated hitter went on to hit two more singles on the night to finish 4-for-4, but it was another legendary player, Nolan Arenado, who ended up deciding the game.
Leading 7-4 in the seventh inning after a Lars Nootbar two-RBI triple where he ended up scoring on an error by D-backs right fielder Daulton Varsho, Arenado came up with a man on third and one out. Arenado drove the ball deep enough to right field to score the runner on third, which proved to be all the Cardinals needed to win the game.
The D-backs did make the game interesting in the eighth. Left fielder Jake McCarthy hit a solo shot, Carson Kelly scored on a wild pitch and Alek Thomas hit an RBI infield single to bring the D-backs within one of St. Louis.
However, it was more work from a superstar, along with help from some Cardinals role players that put the game pretty much out of reach for Arizona in the ninth inning.
Pinch-hitter Nolan Gorman singled home a run to make the game 9-7 and then Paul DeJong, who entered the night hitting .175, hit a grand slam to break things wide open at 13-7. With two outs, former Diamondbacks star Paul Goldschmidt hit a three-run blast to right to finish the scoring for the Cardinals. St. Louis batted around in the frame and forced Arizona reliever Mark Melancon, who began the ninth on the bump for the D-backs, out of the game before he recorded a single out.
Cardinals reliever Génesis Cabrera, who relieved starter Dakota Hudson with two outs in the fifth inning, was the winning pitcher Saturday to improve to 4-2 on the season. Bumgarner took the loss to fall to 6-13 on the year.
The loss was Arizona’s second in a row after winning the final two games of their series with San Francisco on Wednesday and Thursday. Bumgarner gave up five earned runs Saturday, which was his fifth straight start allowing four or more earned. His ERA has ballooned from 3.71 on July 23 to 4.53 after Saturday’s start.
“We’re trying to figure it out,” Bumgarner said of what he’s trying to do to fix his recent struggles. “Like I said, I thought I threw the ball better today than I have in the past few starts but same result. So it don’t mean much. That is a good team. They’re hot right now. They see lefties good but that’s no excuse. I’m not out there trying to give credit to other guys. I got to find a way to do better.”
Kelly, who regularly catches Bumgarner, discussed the recent doldrums of Arizona’s starter.
“I think he’s going through some stuff right now,” Kelly said. “… Again, we play a lot of games so there’s going to be some ups and downs. But, he’s a competitor. He goes out there, does his thing and I have no doubt he’s going to continue to work during these next couple days before his next one and tune up a little bit.”
The D-backs will try to avoid the sweep on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. on ESPN 620 AM / 98.7 FM HD-2.
Merrill Kelly (10-5, 2.81 ERA) will toe the rubber for Arizona against St. Louis lefty José Quintana (4-5, 3.38 ERA).