LOS ANGELES -- Paul Goldschmidt got back to the All-Star Game, and he made the most of it.
Goldschmidt, who was a National League All-Star in each of his last six years with the D-backs, had not made the roster in his first three seasons in St. Louis (admittedly, in one of those years there wasn’t a game). And in his first Midsummer Classic plate appearance since 2018, Goldschmidt showed he still knew exactly what to do.
Goldschmidt hit his first career All-Star Game home run in the first inning, increasing the National League’s early lead before the home team fell 3-2 on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. The homer was the first by a Cardinals player in an All-Star Game since Yadier Molina (2017). Prior to that, no Cardinal had gone deep since Reggie Smith in 1974.
“It was cool,” said Goldschmidt, whose .959 career OPS at Dodger Stadium is tops among active players (min. 100 PA). “It was a lot of fun. I hadn’t been able to do that before. I wanted to play well and try to help us win. … It was a cool moment, running around those bases, getting to do that.”
The slugging first baseman and NL MVP candidate was one of three Cardinals to appear in the game. Retiring slugger Albert Pujols went 0-for-1 in his final All-Star Game, but still had a memorable moment when he and fellow Commissioner’s selection Miguel Cabrera were recognized.
And reliever Ryan Helsley lit up the radar gun, hitting 103 mph twice and at least 100 eight times. He became the second player in the pitch-tracking era to throw 103 in an All-Star Game. Starter Miles Mikolas did not pitch.
Pujols also delivered a pregame speech to the NL team, encouraging them to appreciate every All-Star opportunity, be it their first time or old hat.
“There's been a lot of cool moments in my career, a lot of great games and big stages,” Pujols said. “But to be able to be in the All-Star Game like this and seeing these guys that you compete against through the course of the season for 162 games, and you come together for a couple of days just to have fun.”
As for Goldschmidt, it briefly appeared he might be a candidate for All-Star Most Valuable Player. Facing AL starter Shane McClanahan in the first inning, he got ahead, 2-0, before drilling a solo homer a Statcast-estimated 415 feet to left-center. The ball left Goldschmidt’s bat at 109 miles per hour, the second hardest-hit ball by anyone all night. It put the NL up 2-0.
“Just trying to get something in the middle of the plate to hit hard,” Goldschmidt said. “I said it out there, we faced [McClanahan] earlier and I had popped up a couple balls so I was trying to get on top of one a little bit more. Didn’t want to miss it.”
He definitely did not, connecting for the NL’s only home run of the night.