'Big Fundy' Goldschmidt fuels Cards' rout

August 25th, 2020

Cardinals first baseman is that hitter who changes everything in a lineup. He makes teammates hitting in front of him better, those behind him, too. He puts pitchers in high-stress situations again and again.

What the Cardinals are seeing these days is one of the best players of his generation at the top of his game, and that was true again Monday when the six-time All-Star reached base four times in a 9-3 victory over the Royals at Busch Stadium.

In this strange season, with games stacking up and time rapidly growing short, Goldschmidt has become the defining player the Cardinals acquired him to be before the 2019 season.

He walked in the first inning, singled in the third and fifth and slammed a two-run home run in the sixth inning. He’s leading Major League Baseball in a string of offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.507), and he raised his batting average to .368 on Monday.

“Just try to keep it simple,” Goldschmidt said. “Take it day by day, at-bat by at-bat. Get a good pitch to hit, and try to hit it hard.”

That workmanlike approach is a big reason a former eighth-round Draft pick has become one of those players others are measured against. At times, it’s also good for a few laughs.

Cardinals third baseman , who also had three hits, revealed after the game that Goldschmidt’s nickname is “The Big Fundy.” As in, “The Big Fundamental,” which was NBA legend Tim Duncan’s nickname.

“When we came back,” Miller said, “he said, 'We’re just gonna go out there and have fun, you know, laugh, this and that, kind of play loose.' All Paul has done is unbutton his top button. That’s his version of a little flash. So, yeah, he’s the big fundamental.”

Cardinals manager Mike Shildt sees it another way, pointing to Goldschmidt as his lineup’s anchor and someone who has a relentless impact on St. Louis’ offense.

“Just an anchor all the way,” Shildt said. “Just the consistent quality of his at-bats, clarity of plan and execution of plan.”

Turning serious, Miller said, “Honestly, I think the biggest thing that influences me personally is just his steady demeanor. He’s a steadying presence. He works his butt off, he does. He's a superstar, and he does all the little things. It’s been a lot of fun if you're in the dugout, in the locker room with him.”

As days go, this was about as close to perfect as they get for the Cardinals (10-8), who won for the eighth time in 13 games since returning to action. Right-hander pitched five innings of one-hit shutout ball in a 64-pitch outing, his longest of the season.

He and Shildt had discussed a rough pitch count on Sunday, but Flaherty said he woke up Monday morning feeling so good that he approached the manager “and raised the number.”

“I told him I was good for 70,” Flaherty said. “I was just going out there and executing, and the guys got a lead in the first and then just continued to tack it on.”