Carpenter nails door shut with walk-off HR in 11th

Cardinals mount three late-inning comebacks in victory over Brewers

April 11th, 2018

ST. LOUIS -- By the time Matt Carpenter earned an ice water shower to end what he called "a cold, wet night" at Busch Stadium, the Cardinals first baseman forgot all about how he tried to bunt.
The attempt came seconds before, just two pitches prior. Facing another overshift and sporting just a handful of hits on the season, Carpenter squared away to begin his 11th-inning at-bat against .
"Worst case, we'd have a runner on second," Carpenter said. "Good thing it didn't work out. Everybody in this room is happy it didn't work out."
Carpenter fouled off the first pitch, then muscled up. The curveball he hooked cleared the right-field wall, a walk-off, two-run home run that gave the Cardinals a 5-3 extra-inning win over the Brewers. Carpenter's second home run of the season salvaged a night in which the Cardinals went scoreless through the first five innings and stranded 13 baserunners, but fought back to survive with rallies in the ninth and 10th.
And after late lead changes, shaky control and spotty relief pitching defined the first 21 innings of this intradivisional set at Busch Stadium, Carpenter ensured St. Louis emerged from at least one with a win.
"There is always a win every year that kind of jumpstarts you," Carpenter said. "We haven't been playing bad, but we haven't been clicking like we know we're capable of. This might be the game that gets us on a roll."

The Cardinals hope the same applies to their No. 3 hitter, whose results through 11 games confounded in a similar way as his 2017 season did. Not a game has gone by in which Carpenter has not reached base. But he entered play Tuesday hitting .156 with strikeouts in nearly a third of his plate appearances, calling to mind the Three-True-Outcome tendencies he vowed to leave behind him this spring.
"He hasn't gotten on one of those tears yet that we know he'll get on," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "When he does, we'll all jump on board."
Carpenter's heroics were only possible Tuesday because of the way the Cardinals kept extending the night, each time against tall odds. Their first two runs came without a batted ball leaving the infield. 's bases-loaded walk tied the game at 1 in the sixth, and Tommy Pham scored on a wild pitch to tie it again in the ninth.

The Brewers then scored against in the 10th, after failed to keep the game tied an inning before. But each time, Brewers relievers seemed intent on giving the leads back. opened the ninth by walking pinch-hitter Pham, who eventually scored after unleashed two dirt balls catcher couldn't corral.
Hoover then issued a free pass to Munoz -- a rookie who rarely walked in the Minors -- with two outs in the 10th. singled him home.

In all, five Brewers relievers combined to walk seven and throw two wild pitches across 4 2/3 innings. The struggles came a night after the Cardinals bullpen experienced some high-profile control issues of its own, and rendered 's solid start a distant memory. Suter mostly matched Cardinals starter , who allowed just an solo home run across six strong innings. Martinez has allowed a lone run over 14 2/3 innings this year against the Crew, whom he's made his last two starts against.
At the dish, Martinez was one of three Cardinals to attempt a bunt at some point. Martinez and Garcia successfully executed sacrifices. Carpenter was looking for a hit, before belting the evening's biggest blast.
"How about that?" Matheny quipped. "[The bunt is] actually not a bad play. They've given it to him, so try to take advantage. He'd be crazy not to. Hits are hard to come by."
Off the bench, in a pinch:
At-bats had been scarce in the early going for Garcia, now in his fourth season in a utility role. "I was 0-for-the-season, just pinch hitting," Garcia said.
That was before contributing in a big way Tuesday. Garcia went 2-for-2 in three plate appearances after entering in the seventh. His sac bunt put the tying run in scoring position in the ninth, and his base hit off Hoover in the 10th scored Munoz to knot the game again.
"It's nice to get your first one out of the way. Took me 11 games, but whatever, as long as we won," Garcia said. "That game, in those conditions, for us to keep fighting like that? It shows we have a lot of character in this locker room."
Jordan Hicks, fireman: It was days ago when Matheny first publicly entertained the idea of deploying rookie sensation only in the most precarious late-inning binds, referencing the role fills for the D-backs as a comparison. On Tuesday, that idea became reality when Matheny called on Hicks to defuse a two-on, no-out situation in the seventh. Flashing a two-seam fastball as hard as 99 mph, Hicks breezed through four hitters, stranding the bases loaded to preserve a 1-1 tie. The 21-year-old then tossed a scoreless eighth.

"He continues to impress us," Matheny said. "We can trust him, so far, in any situation."
"He didn't try to bunt. Wait, he did? That's right! It's all a blur. Long night!" -- Garcia, on Carpenter's at-bat
The Cardinals became the first team to tie a game in the bottom of the ninth, then again in the 10th before winning in the bottom of the 11th in nearly four years. The last to do so were the Diamondbacks, against the Braves, on June 7, 2014.
Carpenter entered his 11th inning at-bat already 5-for-9 with a home run lifetime off Hoover, who has spent most of his career in the National League Central. Carpenter's career line against the right-hander finished the night even better: 6-for-10 (.600) with a walk and four extra-base hits in matchups with Hoover.
The Cardinals left the winning run 90 feet away in the 10th, magnifying the importance of a controversial call earlier in the frame. St. Louis challenged the call on the field when Brewers right fielder slid to catch a line drive with one out. Though some angles appeared to show the ball bouncing into Santana's glove, umpires could not find sufficient evidence to reverse the call, and it stood. The Cardinals then began their game-tying rally from scratch with two outs.

"I saw what everybody else saw. I couldn't see how the ball didn't hit grass," Matheny said. "In their opinion, it hit leather before it bounced. Not that we had 100 percent clarity on it either, but it could've possibly ended our game a little sooner."
Facebook Watch's MLB Live page will be the only place to watch return to the mound Wednesday, when this series concludes with a 12:15 p.m. CT matinee. The game marks MLB's second digital-only national regular-season broadcast, which fans can experience across an array of devices including phones, tablets, smart TVs and more.