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Goldy homers, red-hot Cards tie Cubs in Central

Slugger notches career-best fourth straight game with homer in sweep of Bucs
@JakeCrouseMLB
July 25, 2019

PITTSBURGH -- Everyone knew what Paul Goldschmidt was capable of when the Cardinals traded for him this offseason, but the four-time Silver Slugger Award winner continues to find ways to up his game, and he’s done so again against the Pirates this week. When Goldschmidt went deep to left-center field

PITTSBURGH -- Everyone knew what Paul Goldschmidt was capable of when the Cardinals traded for him this offseason, but the four-time Silver Slugger Award winner continues to find ways to up his game, and he’s done so again against the Pirates this week.

When Goldschmidt went deep to left-center field off Pirates starter Joe Musgrove in the fourth inning of Thursday’s 6-3 win at PNC Park, it marked the fourth consecutive game in which the first baseman has recorded a homer. That marks a career-long streak for Goldschmidt, who leads St. Louis with 22 dingers.

Box score

“It’s a pretty impressive feat -- four homers in four games -- so it’s an accomplishment I’m sure he’s going to enjoy,” manager Mike Shildt said, “but I know he’s equally or more pleased with the fact that we won. That’s how he is.”

This one came on a hanging changeup, which Goldschmidt sent a projected 418 feet, per Statcast, into the bullpen area. It rocketed 103.7 mph off the bat and gave the Cardinals a 3-1 advantage on their way to a four-game sweep of Pittsburgh.

“It was just one pitch right there, a changeup, where I tried to sneak it in and go for a chase or try to get a swing and miss, and I elevate it and leave it right over the middle,” Musgrove said. “That’s kind of what he’s been doing with bad pitches all series.”

Goldschmidt continued a trend of terrorizing Pirates pitching, as Thursday marked the fifth straight game in which he's hit a homer against Pittsburgh, a mark last reached by Rogers Hornsby (six straight in 1924). In 13 games against the Pirates this season, Goldschmidt has posted an 1.199 OPS with six homers and two doubles.

"He's hit every pitch out of the ballpark,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A changeup today, a fastball, a breaking ball. We haven't executed, either. Give him credit that he hasn't missed when we haven't executed, but we haven't executed very well multiple times throughout this series.”

Not only has the 31-year-old's home run total made apparent his power capabilities this season, but Wednesday night’s homer shot off his bat at 111.5 mph -- the fifth-highest mark of his career and his hardest since April 14, 2018 (112.9 mph).

Goldschmidt’s success with home runs mirrors that of the Cardinals as a whole. The team tied a franchise record with 12 homers this series, and it has now hit 35 this month. That’s its best mark in a calendar month this season and the most since they hit 40 in August of last year.

Over the eight-game road stretch, in which the team went 7-1, each of the No. 1-8 batters recorded at least one home run. The full order collected 72 hits and averaged 6.75 runs per game in that span.

“They’ve been banging the ball against us, and they caught fire collectively from top to bottom,” Hurdle said. “There was a time they were having trouble scoring runs.”

“Kolten has the homer, Dex has the homer, we scored 14 runs yesterday -- there’s been a lot of big hits,” Goldschmidt said. “That’s what it’s going to take for us to win. There’s not going to be one guy that can do it, and that’s, I think, a strength of our team. When we’ve played well, it’s been one through eight and even the pitchers, sometimes as simple as getting a bunt down.”

There are still five games remaining in July for St. Louis to add to that bloated home run total. But maybe the most important development of this four-game sweep, the team’s second of the year, is that the Cardinals have now fought their way back into a share of first place in the National League Central.

In the process, they’ve positioned themselves to be buyers at the Trade Deadline, which is less than a week away, potentially looking to add a bullpen arm or shore up the rotation. The offense has shown little need for improvement, and St. Louis will likely have Matt Carpenter, Jedd Gyorko and Marcell Ozuna back sometime in the coming weeks.

But the hottest bat of them all doesn’t want the club to get caught standings-watching as it heads into a stretch of 11 games against teams currently in playoff spots (Astros, Cubs, A’s and Dodgers).

“A lot of teams have good weeks or good two weeks, but even us -- we’ve had a good month and then a terrible month,” Goldschmidt said. “To accomplish the goals we want, it’s going to take us playing well for the rest of the year.”

Jake Crouse is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh. Follow him on Twitter @JakeCrouseMLB.