Nolan, Goldy continue torment of Giants

July 7th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- Times change. Years pass. Dynasties rise. Dynasties fall. But in the last decade of baseball, there has been one constant:

and being an absolute pain to the Giants.

Goldschmidt and Arenado combined to drive in four runs on Tuesday as the Cardinals hung on to win, 6-5, over the Giants at Oracle Park. That performance by St. Louis’ two stars helped seal a series victory over an elite team in San Francisco, a much-needed jolt of momentum for an up-and-down squad.

“These first two games were just validation that we should be playing a lot better than we have been,” said starter Adam Wainwright. “We’re a better team than we’ve shown, and these last couple games, we beat a tough team in their park with a very great, tough crowd to play in front of.”

The tag-team routine began during the game’s infancy. In the first inning, Goldschmidt muscled a bloop single to right field, setting the stage for Arenado to line a laser into the left-field bleachers.

The Giants saw that story too many times when Arenado played for the Rockies. Far too many times.

Arenado’s two-run shot was his 32nd career home run against the Giants, the most he’s hit against any team. It was also his 12th career long ball at Oracle Park, the second-most by a visiting player in the stadium’s history. The only opposing player with more home runs at Oracle Park than Arenado is, of course, Goldschmidt, who has 13 home runs in San Francisco.

Goldschmidt didn’t tack on to his all-time lead on Tuesday, but he did continue to do damage. With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, Goldschmidt shot a single into left field, driving in two runs of his own.

“I’ve seen them hit very well at many different parks because they’re good players,” said Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford. “I think that’s probably the main thing with them. They’re really good players.”

Not to be lost in the shuffle was Yadier Molina, who had a three-hit night of his own and drove in a run in the seventh inning, and Edmundo Sosa, who had a solo shot in the eighth inning. The late runs provided by Molina and Sosa ended up being invaluable in a game the Cardinals nearly let slip away.

If the Giants had completed their comeback, the one misplay that would’ve stuck out was the failure to catch Wilmer Flores’ towering pop fly. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Génesis Cabrera induced what should’ve been an inning-ending popup. The ball had a catch probability of 95 percent. If the ball was caught, the Cardinals would’ve entered the ninth inning with a two-run lead.

The ball found grass. Mike Yastrzemski didn’t take the play for granted, sprinting off the crack of the bat and scoring easily from first base. The damage in that inning was limited to the one run, but the collective misplay left the door open.

In the ninth inning, the mistake almost really came back to hurt. The Giants put the tying and winning runners on base with no outs. After Cabrera recorded the inning’s first out, the recently acquired Justin Miller came in and retired the first two batters he faced, sealing the win.

Of course, Miller got some help from his defense.

Jason Vosler drove Miller’s 0-1 fastball to the left-field warning track, but Dylan Carlson, who has only played five games in left this season, made a running catch then crashed into the wall. A pumped-up Carlson was greeted by center fielder Harrison Bader, who bear-hugged him as the two ran back to the infield to celebrate the win.

“It’s good to have Harrison back because of that exuberance he brings,” manager Mike Shildt said.

With back-to-back road wins against one of the National League’s best teams, St. Louis’ trip to San Francisco has the feel of a series that could help turn the tide of a rocky season.