Nootbaar hits RBI in debut: 'The same game'

June 23rd, 2021

DETROIT -- After working toward his MLB debut for so long, the time between when got the promotion and when he took the field with the Cardinals for the first time was a whirlwind. The news of his big league arrival sent his family back in California scurrying to mobilize a cheering section for Tuesday’s series opener at Comerica Park.

Were there jitters? Of course. Nootbaar admitted to tossing and turning “a little bit” the night before, but teammates and friends were quick to help him put the day in perspective.

“They told me it’s the same game I’ve been playing, so I tried to relax out there and do what I could do,” he said. “It’s still a round bat and a round ball, but definitely the stakes are a little higher and the competition’s obviously top level. But I just tried to do what I could and play the same way I always have.”

As it turned out, Nootbaar’s debut went just fine. And despite the quick turnaround, his brother and sister were in the stands to see the 23-year-old earn his first Major League RBI, a sacrifice fly that came in the fifth inning and accounted for half of St. Louis’ offense in the 8-2 loss.

They also witnessed a handful of defensive plays as Detroit’s batted balls continually found their way to left field. Some were routine, like Jake Rogers’ sky-high flyout in the second inning that Nootbaar was able to camp out comfortably beneath; others required a bit more pizzazz, like Rogers’ fourth-inning double that hooked into the left-field corner and gave Nootbaar a chance to showcase the arm scouts have heralded since the Cards selected him in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Draft.

“Obviously, I wish it would have come in a win, but just being able to get out there was definitely a good experience,” Nootbaar said. “Something I’ll remember forever.”

While not much could top making his debut, Nootbaar managed to one-up himself in Wednesday’s 6-2 finale loss by collecting his first career hit, and boy, was it a good one. He smacked a ball deep to center field in the third inning, then hit the gas coming out of the box to stretch the memory-maker into a triple. He popped up from his slide clapping enthusiastically, as his cheering section behind home plate went wild.

In the sixth inning, Nootbaar added his first career outfield assist as well, throwing out Isaac Paredes at home plate after fielding a single to right field.

This date in Cardinals history
June 23, 1984: Willie McGee hit for the cycle during an extra-inning loss to the Cubs. McGee went about it the unconventional route, tripling to get the hardest part of the feat out of the way in the second inning, singling in the fourth, homering in the sixth and swatting an RBI double in the 10th to account for six of the Cards’ 11 runs.