'Pen comes through to deliver win

May 29th, 2021

The Cardinals didn’t get a lot of length from starter Johan Oviedo on Friday night.

Oviedo threw 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs and walked six batters on 91 pitches before his night was over, but it was two key performances from the bullpen that helped the Cardinals to a win on Friday night.

With Oviedo’s early exit, provided some length out of the bullpen as he gave the Cardinals 2 2/3 innings of shutout baseball and struck out six while allowing just one hit in the Cardinals' 8-6 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

Woodford said having a set role within the bullpen isn’t something he looks too deep into. Instead, he focuses on taking advantage of the opportunities he does get to help his ballclub like he did on Friday night.

“I'm not really as concerned with that as I am just trying to go out and do my job, when my name is called,” Woodford said. “I think if you just go out and execute pitches regardless of what role you're in, they're all important. I think every inning, every run is important whether it's in the third or the eighth. I don't really think it matters so I'm just, kind of like I said, trying to take whatever opportunities I get, and just do the most with them.”

Woodford escaped a jam after he inherited runners as he came into the ballgame. After Oviedo allowed Josh Reddick to reach second and Pavin Smith to reach third base in the fifth inning, Woodford struck out Nick Ahmed and Tim Locastro to strand both runners in scoring position.

“I just try and take one pitch at a time,” Woodford said about coming into the situation. “Just try to execute one pitch and then worry about the next one after that. If you can do that, hopefully, good things happen.”

He then proceeded to set down the next five Arizona hitters in order before giving up a two-out triple to Smith in the seventh inning, which was his final inning of work.

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said Woodford did a great job of keeping the D-backs off the board on a night with a limited bullpen.

“Listen, [the] bullpen’s short,” Shildt said. “We're in the fifth [inning] with traffic, second and third, and man, [he] left them stranded there and then, bam, [got the] sixth, got the seventh. Very efficient, crisp.”

Woodford kept the D-backs bats quiet aside from Smith’s triple and preserved the early lead the Cardinals had built after a first inning where they scored four runs off of Madison Bumgarner and added to it later with a third-inning solo shot from Nolan Arenado.

For the second straight night, it was Daniel Ponce de Leon who came out of the bullpen in a high leverage spot. Following an outing where Ponce de Leon recorded just his second save in his career, he was called on to get St. Louis out of a jam.

Ponce de Leon came in for Ryan Helsley after he allowed two runs and left runners on the corners with two outs. Ponce de Leon proceeded to strike out David Peralta on a 95.5 mph fastball to end the inning after throwing five pitches.

He returned for the ninth inning to shut the door and secure the win for St. Louis after working himself out of a bases loaded, one-out jam, despite allowing Reddick to score on a Ketel Marte fielder’s choice.

“I thought he was great,” Shildt said of Ponce de Leon’s night. “[A] big punchout to get Peralta to end the eighth and then just gritty in the ninth. The guy had a really live fastball. The ball was really jumping. Good velocity, and a very determined Ponce. He was tremendous again tonight.”