Heyward gets first Cardinals curtain call
ST. LOUIS -- During Monday's home opener, a sellout crowd at Busch Stadium welcomed Jason Heyward to town with a standing ovation as he stepped to the plate for his first at-bat. Afterward, however, Heyward admitted to being oblivious to the recognition, noting he was too focused on his at-bat to take in the scene.
On Saturday, the Cardinals ensured he didn't miss his moment again.
After dropping his first homer of the season into the Cardinals' bullpen, Heyward returned to the dugout to find teammates had formed their usual long ball receiving line. Heyward went through the string of high-fives, which placated the players but not the fans. They remained on their feet.
It was his cue, and one Heyward took after being nudged out by a few teammates and motioned to the top step by his manager. He doffed his helmet in what was his first Cardinals curtain call.
"It's fun to do good stuff," Heyward said, seemingly trying to take the spotlight off himself. "It's another run up on the board. It was nice to have a two-run cushion, and then we had another one, of course. Against good teams, you want to try and add on when you can."
Heyward's third-inning solo shot off Reds starter Homer Bailey put the Cardinals ahead, 2-0, and marked the first home run hit by the home team at Busch Stadium this season. It was also a positive tangible result for an outfielder who entered the day just 3-for-16 on the homestand despite hitting a number of balls hard.
"He's having a nice start for us and has hit the ball better than his average indicates right now," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's putting together some really good at-bats, getting guys over, doing the little things right as well."
The home run would be Heyward's only hit in four at-bats, but he added a defensive gem on a day fittingly set aside to recognize his standout defensive ability. Both Heyward and Yadier Molina were presented with their 2014 Rawlings Gold Glove Awards during a pregame ceremony. It was Heyward's second such honor. On Sunday, he'll be awarded with the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Heyward's diving catch on Marlon Byrd's short line drive to right a half inning after taking Bailey deep helped Carlos Martinez through a 1-2-3 fourth inning.
"It was good to contribute and help on both sides," Heyward said. "It was good to get runs up against a team like that, because they can score runs in a hurry, and not let them get momentum back."