Extreme déjà vu? Edman has done this a few times

Utility ace walks it off for second game in row in familiar fashion

August 31st, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- Having grown up in San Diego cheering for the Padres, and as someone who stuck with No. 19 because of the nod to Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, Cardinals utility ace Tommy Edman said the significance of beating his hometown Padres with walk-off hits on consecutive days was not lost on him.

Just in case it was, he’s gotten hundreds of reminders from San Diego-based buddies who have been equal parts happy for him and bitter that the accomplishments doomed the Padres.

“I’ve got a couple of fantasy football leagues with guys from San Diego, and they’ve all been blowing me up. They’re like, ‘Dude, what are you doing to us?’” Edman said after hitting a two-out, two-run walk-off home run off All-Star closer Josh Hader to lift the Cardinals past the Padres, 5-4, on Wednesday afternoon at Busch Stadium. “I’ve gotten a little bit of both [positive and negative messages]. They’re excited because it’s me that hit the couple of walk-offs, but they’re mostly like, ‘C’mon dude, we’re trying to fight for the playoffs.’”

A night after pulling a 96.2 mph sinker off the wall in left for a walk-off single in the 10th inning, Edman went with an up-and-away 97.2 mph pitch and drove it over the wall in right-center for a second dramatic winner in as many nights. Edman, who came on as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday and started in center on Wednesday, became the first Cardinals player with a walk-off RBI in consecutive games since Albert Pujols on June 4-5, 2011, against the Cubs.

“You can’t really look for anything else off [Hader] because he has such a good fastball, and I was trying to stay as short as I could [with his swing],” said Edman, who had three stolen bases along with his 12th home run of the season. “You’ve got to try and stay on top of it because that fastball is pretty explosive. I’m not trying to do too much there, and it’s fun when you accidentally hit a homer.”

Edman’s heroics were made possible because of the exploits of two of the Cardinals’ youngest and most dynamic players in Jordan Walker and Masyn Winn. Walker authored the first four-hit game of his career and muscled a 431-foot three-run homer in the fourth to get the game tied after the Cardinals fell behind 3-0.

However, Walker’s best contribution of the day might have been loaning one of his bats to the 21-year-old Winn, who used the 34-ounce, 32-inch Louisville Slugger to lace a double into left field and keep the ninth inning alive with two outs. Normally, Winn said he uses a 33 1/2-ounce, 31-inch bat, but he turned to his close friend for some assistance before the at-bat that set the stage for Edman’s heroics.

“Thankfully Jordan Walker let me use his bat for that AB, and I think it had a little bit of magic in it,” said Winn, who scored the winning run from third on Tuesday and was on second for Edman’s Wednesday winner. “I’ve been struggling, and I saw [Walker] get four knocks today. I just walked up to him and said, ‘Hey man, mine’s not working; let me see if yours has more hits,’ and sure enough, it did.”

Though he’s not a star the caliber of National League MVP Paul Goldschmidt or 10-time Gold Glover Nolan Arenado, Edman still commands as much respect as any player in the Cardinals' clubhouse because of his offensive and defensive versatility and his high baseball IQ. A former Gold Glover at second base, Edman has played 45 games at shortstop, 35 in center field, 34 at second and eight in right field this season. He's also hit in eight different spots in the lineup with the No. 9 slot (52 games) and leadoff (33 games) leading the way.

“Tommy’s a real ballplayer and a true baseball player,” said starting pitcher Miles Mikolas, who limited the Padres to three runs in six innings. Anywhere you put him, he’s a real jugador [player]."

For Edman, Wednesday’s walk-off had to feel like déjà vu for him on a couple of levels. Nine years earlier, with Edman’s Stanford University Cardinal trailing 4-3 with a runner on second, Edman smashed a walk-off homer to defeat the Kyle Schwarber-led Indiana Hoosiers. Last season, in a similar scenario -- trailing 4-3, two outs and a runner on second, Edman hit a two-run walk-off winner into the Cardinals’ bullpen to beat the Reds.

This time, with the Cards down 4-3, two outs and a runner on second, his walk-off winner landed in nearly the same spot in the bullpen.

“In each case we’re down one with a runner on second,” Edman said. “Maybe that’s what I need to do in those situations -- try to hit a single and accidentally hit a home run.”