'That was fun': Gorman singles in first MLB at-bat

May 21st, 2022

PITTSBURGH -- When the first ground ball of the bottom of the first inning went right to second baseman Nolan Gorman -- who, fittingly enough, was making his MLB debut -- grizzled Cardinals veterans Adam Wainwright and Paul Goldschmidt couldn’t help but chuckle to themselves.

The 22-year-old Gorman used that ground ball to turn a quick double play and calm whatever nerves were lingering over the MLB debut he had been anxiously anticipating for years. That play set the stage for Gorman to drill the fourth pitch he saw as a big leaguer 106.8 miles per hour into right field for the first hit of his MLB career.

Gorman’s first big league hit, combined with some stellar pitching from Wainwright, two hits and two RBIs from catcher Yadier Molina and a strong bounce-back performance from closer Giovanny Gallegos, allowed the Cardinals to defeat the Pirates 5-3.

“That was fun,” said Gorman, who also drew a four-pitch walk in the sixth inning, when the Cardinals scored four times to break open a close game. “I didn’t feel much of it [on the hit]. It was awesome, getting to first base and getting the ball thrown in. I’ve seen a lot of those happen over the years of playing pro ball and seeing lots of debuts. Seeing that happen for me was super cool.”

What Gorman didn’t see was the tears that welled up in the eyes of his father, Brian, and mother, Jennifer -- who had traveled with their two other children and Brian’s parents from Phoenix throughout the day Friday to make it to Pittsburgh by game time.

“Not much sleep, a little bit on the plane, and it’s been a long day, but it’s worth every minute,” said Brian, who found out about his son’s promotion from a family they befriended when Nolan played Double-A baseball in 2021 in Peoria, Ill. “We’re just super excited for him. As the day went on, our excitement turned toward realizing that your son was realizing his dream. So, we were pretty emotional about that.”

Wainwright, 40, shut down the Pirates for a second time this season and extended his scoreless streak against Pittsburgh to 39 1/3 innings before Michael Chavis homered with one out in the seventh to stop the streak.

Wainwright’s scoreless streak against the Pirates bested the 36 straight scoreless innings set by Phil Niekro (1969-71) and Jack Baldschun (1961-64), and it is the longest scoreless streak against Pittsburgh in MLB’s expansion era (since 1961).

Wainwright, who allowed four hits Friday, has won 10 straight starts against the Pirates dating back to 2019. The last time the Pirates touched up Wainwright for a loss was April 3, 2016.

Molina and Wainwright earned their MLB-record 204th career team win as a starting battery. The game was their 312th as a starting battery, drawing them within four of equaling the second most starts in history for a battery. Wainwright and Molina trail only Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan (324 starts) and Warren Spahn and Del Crandall (316 starts).

Wainwright’s biggest enjoyment, he said, was seeing the rookie handle his first ground ball to turn two two batters into the first inning.

“I laughed about it,” Wainwright said. “The ball will find you. You know, I planned that so that the kid could get his feet wet.”

Added Goldschmidt, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games and his on-base streak to 27 games: “That’s a routine ground ball, and it’s always good to get your first one out of the way. But I was kind of laughing because the first play goes to the new guy [Gorman], and Tommy [Edman] hadn’t played short in a while. I was laughing about that because that’s how this game works.”

Gallegos, who was touched up for a walk-off home run in Thursday’s loss in New York, returned Friday and struck out all five batters he faced.

Gorman celebrated his promotion with childhood friend Matthew Liberatore, who will make his MLB debut on Saturday as starting pitcher. The two have known one another since they were 5 years old while growing up in the Phoenix area, and now their MLB debuts with the Cardinals will come on back-to-back days.

“It’s super cool, and for us, we always pushed each other when we were younger, and we decided we were going to go for this dream,” Gorman said. “We grew up 10 minutes apart from one another, so this is so cool.”

Gorman, who saw the video of his mom, dad and granddad crying after the game, said he was surprisingly able to keep his nerves in check throughout the victory.

“I got a little nervous on my way down to the buses this afternoon, but for the most part when I got out on the field, it felt normal,” he said. “I didn’t think it was going to be like that, but I’m happy it was.”