Back in Arizona this week, Paul Goldschmidt called the Diamondbacks’ wild card victory over Colorado in the 2017 playoffs his most memorable experience here.
He is working on making new memories in St. Louis.
Goldschmidt homered in the Cardinals’ victory Monday and he hit another homer in a 19-inning, 3-2 loss to Arizona on Tuesday.
His production has helped the St. Louis break a three-year playoff drought while closing in on the NL Central title, and the Cardinals will bring a 2 1/2-game division lead over Milwaukee into the final game of the series Wednesday, when right-hander Michael Wacha (6-7, 4.68) is to oppose Arizona rookie right-hander Merrill Kelly (12-14, 4.31).
Friends and industry insiders told Cardinals manager Mike Shildt to expect talent and class in his new first baseman, and the reviews have played out.
“It’s hard to live up to that billing, because it was so high,” Shildt said. “One, it is the player Paul Goldschmidt, what he brings. But what I appreciate very much all the text messages, phone calls, correspondence I got from the people in the industry I respect about what a high character person he is.
“That bar was really high, and he’s exceeded both. He’s a pro’s pro. He loves the game. He cares about the game. He cares about winning. And he does a lot of things well that are residual to help people around him become better. He brings people up, and he doers it without having to say a whole lot. He models things very well. Actions speak louder than words. Anybody can say anything.”
The Cardinals (90-68) eliminated the Diamondbacks (81-77) from playoff contention with their win Monday.
“It hurts,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. “There are no points for second place. We know they (Cardinals) have a chance to do something they’ve been setting up to do from the get-go. I’m happy for him (Goldschmidt). But jealous it’s not us.”
Shildt is in the conversation for NL manager of the year in his first full season.
“I don’t think about it,” Shildt said. “It’s a player’s game. My job is to help them be the best version of themselves and put them in a good position, and that’s all I can do.”
Wacha has been on a short leash in September, pithing 15 innings in his four starts this month. He gave up only one run in four innings but did not get a decision in a 2-1 victory over the Cubs in his last start Friday after throwing five scoreless innings in a no-decision against Milwaukee on Sept. 15.
His only victory since June 21 came in a relief appearance at Cincinnati on July 19, when he pitched 1 2/3 innings in a 12-11 victory. He is 2-1 in six career starts against the Diamondbacks.
Kelly has had his best stretch of the season in September, going 3-1 with four quality starts and a 1.00 ERA. He has not been scored upon in three of his last four games and has will enter with a string of 15 consecutive scoreless innings.
He gave up three hits, all singles, in seven scoreless innings of a 1-0 victory against Cincinnati on Sept. 14 and is coming off a 9-0 victory at San Diego in which he gave up two singles in seven scoreless innings. Kelly has 28 strikeouts in his 27 September innings.
Kelly is third among major league rookies with 12 victories; the Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson leads with 16. Kelly is 6-5 with a 3.22 ERA at Chase Field.
–Field Level Media