Edman's walk-off hit helps Cards end bases-loaded woes

April 16th, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- At long last, Tommy Edman ended the Cardinals' misery with the bases loaded. That misery quickly turned to joy when the standout shortstop came through in the clutch and notched the third walk-off hit of his career.

Edman, who came to the plate 0-for-15 this season with runners in scoring position, singled with the bases loaded, as the Cardinals rallied for two runs in the 10th inning to defeat the Pirates, 5-4 on Sunday at Busch Stadium.

Prior to Edman’s at-bat, the Cardinals were 1-for-16 with six strikeouts on the season with the bases loaded. In three at-bats on Sunday, the Cardinals failed to push across a run in bases-loaded situations -- one of which was Edman grounding into a 1-2-3 double play to end a fourth-inning threat.

“I’ve definitely had a few games where I haven't had really good approaches, but I feel like it's been better recently and more consistent,” said Edman, who drove a grounder back up the middle and was spared a celebratory ice bath by teammate Miles Mikolas on the blustery, 47-degree day. “We’ve had games, like today, where we had a lot of opportunities and didn't really get that clutch hit. Those kinds of days are going to happen where we can't get things to fall our way. And then we're going to have days where we absolutely crush the ball.”

For much of the season, the Cardinals have been crushed by their inability to drive in runs -- both with runners in scoring position and with the sacks packed. St. Louis has spent most of the season in baseball’s top 10 in batting average (tied for fifth), on-base percentage (fifth) and OPS (seventh), but they rank 22nd in runs because they have hit just .245 with runners in scoring position and only .217 with RISP and two outs. And the fact that they had flopped so many times previously with the bases loaded only heightened that frustration.

“It’s definitely no secret that we’re not driving in the runs that we want to at the moment. Do I think it's a matter of time? Yes,” said Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, who earned the 100th win of his young managerial career Sunday. “You want to break that game open at some point, and we were not able to. And then we left the bases loaded there [in the eighth inning]. I'll remain confident in what our offense is doing and what they're going to be able to do. I know we're leaving guys on, but it'd be a different conversation if we weren't getting guys on. It's a matter of time before we start driving them in.”

The Cardinals seemed poised to win the game earlier in the 10th inning when second-year sensation Nolan Gorman drilled a line drive down the right-field line for a double. However, the ball bounced above the fence for a ground-rule double that kept catcher Willson Contreras at third base instead of allowing him to score. From there, the Pirates walked Lars Nootbaar intentionally and pitched to rookie Jordan Walker, who struck out.

Gorman, who had three hits in Friday’s victory and an RBI sac fly in Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Pirates in 10 innings, smashed two doubles on Sunday.

Edman said the Cardinals continued struggles with the bases loaded led to some pressing and pressure that contributed to the team’s early season failures. Over time, Edman said, the Cardinals' lineup is too talented with superstars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado in the middle and plenty of depth around them, to continue to struggle in big spots.

“I think, early in the season, there definitely can be a tendency to try to do too much, especially in those big situations,” Edman said. “I think as we get on into the season, I think we’ll get more relaxed, and the numbers will start to turn around.”

Edman has been getting in extra work in recent days to try and unlock more of his potential from the left side of the plate. Prior to Sunday’s game-winner, Edman was 6-for-42 (.142) from the left side of the plate compared to 7-for-10 (.700) as a righty against left-handed pitching. Last season, Edman was a better hitter righty (.276) than lefty (.261), but the drop-off wasn’t as significant. Improve from that side of the plate, Edman said, and he can continue to produce in big spots for the Cardinals.

“We didn’t know the exact stats, but watching the games, you could see we weren’t getting the big hits in those big moments, especially with myself,” Edman said. “Hopefully, this gets everybody rolling and we can start to get more of those big hits.”