Gold rush! Paul Goldschmidt launches two homers as Cardinals reign over Cubs in sweep

Derrick Goold, St. Louis Post-Dispatch on

Published in Baseball

Two baseballs the Cubs couldn’t possibly catch put the Cardinals ahead, but it took a deep fly ball within the reach of center field Michael Siani to cinch the series victory.

Paul Goldschmidt hit two two-run home runs to launch the Cardinals to a four-run lead that the bullpen leaked, but did not lose. Siani’s dash into deep center field in the ninth inning collected the final out and assured the Cardinals of a 4-3 victory late Sunday night at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals’ win in the rain-prolonged game swept the rain-shortened series of two games, and the Cardinals won each by one run.

Ryan Helsley got the save in each to bring his MLB-lead to 17 saves.

Though the Cubs got the tying run to third base each night.

The Cardinals have won 10 of their past 12 games to hoist their record within a win of .500 on the eve of Memorial Day. At 25-26 they could be a winning team by winning their next series.

Sonny Gray (7-2) got the win thanks to Goldschmidt’s four RBIs coming during the right-hander’s five scoreless innings. Despite throwing fewer than 80 pitches, he left 12 outs for the bullpen to get.

The game was delayed 2 hours, 33 minutes by rain, hail, and a tornado warning that had the Cardinals urging fans to retreat to the lower concourse and seek shelter.

In their past 12 games – as they’ve lunged out of the quagmire of last place – the Cardinals have also experienced 8 hours and 12 minutes of rain delays. And that does not include Friday’s game against the Cubs that was just washed out by the forecast for poor weather. That game was postponed all the way until June and turned this weekend series with all of its potential for three consecutive 40,000-strong crowds into a two-day stay.

It finished with a nationally televised game to play.

Whatever the wait.

Both the Cardinals and Cubs had getaway charters scheduled for Sunday night to race to a division foe for an afternoon game. The Cubs visit Milwaukee for manager Craig Counsell’s first visit since leaving the same role with his hometown Brewers, and the Cardinals zip over to Cincinnati to face the Reds for the first time. Both of those games have a scheduled first pitch around 3 p.m. St. Louis time. The Cardinals will have a few hours to sleep on their winning stretch.

Gray departs after five scoreless

After the lengthy rain delay, there was scarce rhythm to be had for either team or their starting pitchers. Gray pitched around an error in his second inning and saw his pitch count go from 12 in the first inning to needing 24 to negotiate three outs from five batters in the second inning.

All three came on strikeouts.

Those themes did dovetail for Gray. He had plenty of strikeouts and plenty of stops and starts to his innings. At one point a member of the grounds crew visited the mound to address the spiky plate pitchers use like a toothbrush for their cleats, to scrape dirt loose. Gray retired all three batters he faced in the fifth inning and finished it with fewer than 80 pitches, and that was also the finish of his evening.

Gray turned the ball over to the bullpen three outs shy of a quality start. He pitched five scoreless innings on 74 pitches and struck out eight. But his abbreviated start will be a question explored in postgame interviews. Earlier in the home stand, Gray motioned to the dugout for the manager to come get him in the midst of the sixth. Gray said later that a stressful inning and the heat of the day caught up to him and he felt less sharp, felt that the better option was a fresh arm from the bullpen.

Originally drafted by the Cubs out of high school in 2008, Gray did not seem to lack sharpness Sunday in his introduction to the game’s oldest rivalry between two teams that have never moved from their original cities.


He struck out the final two batters he faced – and did so with a sweeping slider each time. The right-hander had 14 swings and misses. He struck out four of the final six batters he faced, and when he dealt with two runners on base, Gray struck out two Cubs to avoid any trouble. The escape strikeout came in the second inning when he got Dansby Swanson to whiff on a 93-mph sinker with two teammates on base.

Goldschmidt: Frequent flyer to Big Mac Land

There was little doubt how far the baseball would go if not for the stadium in its way, so the only question when Goldschmidt made contact was if it would be high enough to clear the fries.

In the third inning of a scoreless game, the Cardinals’ No. 3 hitter drilled a cut fastball 424 feet and into the left-field seats. The ball left Goldschmidt’s bat at 110 mph and traveled an estimated 424 feet – and just did clear the illuminant fries that border the welcome sign to BIG MAC LAND and Busch Stadium. No golden rods were damaged in Goldschmidt’s pursuit of two runs. But some ballpark history was continued.

Goldschmidt has made nine visits to BIG MAC LAND.

Since Busch III opened in 2006, Goldschmidt’s nine home runs into the seats in the third deck above left field are the most by any hitter. Paul DeJong famously shattered one of the lights in BIG MAC LAND and purchased the broken letter. Albert Pujols left his dent on the former fixture before it was switched over to a ribbon board that, well, is easier to replace. Only the fries remain vulnerable to shattered lights.

Two innings later, Goldschmidt took aim at the left-field seats again, though his second homer of the game traveled 399 feet and sailed shy of being a 10th over the Golden Arches.

Happ threatens, but Cubs falter

Leave it to Ian Happ to lead a charge against the Cardinals. The Cubs’ outfielder entered Sunday’s game with 22 home runs in his first 99 games against the archrivals.

In his 100th game vs. Cardinals, he added two.

Happ drilled a two-run homer off Andrew Kittredge in the seventh inning to cut the Cardinals’ lead in half. In the ninth, Happ greeted closer Helsley with a solo home run to bring the Cubs within a run of the Cardinals. In between the two Happ homers, the Cubs threatened against lefty JoJo Romero. He was helped out of the jam with a diving catch by center fielder Michael Siani that kept the Cubs scoreless inning the eighth and stopped Happ from coming up in that inning with a chance to erase the Cardinals’ lead.

Two Cardinals keep streaks

Masyn Winn and Alec Burleson, two of the youngest pair of Cardinals to hit .300 together this deep into the season, attended to their hitting streaks early in Sunday night’s game.

Burleson’s single in the first inning took his hitting streak to 10 games.

In the third, Winn flipped a single to center to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. The rookie shortstop – the only rookie in the majors who has a .300 average and enough at-bats to qualify for the batting race – has the longest hitting streak by any Cardinal this season. According to research by the Cardinals’ media relations staff, Burleson (age 25) and Winn (age 22) are the youngest pair of Cardinals with .300 batting averages through 50 games since 1977. That summer Keith Hernandez (age 24) and Garry Templeton (age 21) boasted .300 averages at this point in the season.


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