Apparently, Ty Wigginton has been hiding wheels.
On a night where nothing came easily, Wigginton was the guy who came through in the clutch. Twitter nearly exploded at the hit (scored a double, but it was in and out of a diving Rick Ankiel’s glove), and then went postal as Wiggy dashed for home on a miscue by the Mets’ pitcher that left home plate wide open.
Here’s how the play went down, as described by Rick Hummel:
Matt Carpenter, who again reached base three times from the leadoff spot, lined a ball off the foot of reliever Scott Rice.
As the ball rolled down the first-base line, Rice started to pursue — as did catcher John Buck, who finally corralled it. This, of course, left nobody covering home.
Third-base coach Jose Oquendo, in Wigginton’s eyesight, pointed that the catcher and pitcher both had gone for the ball. The rest was up to the 35-year-old Wigginton.
“As I was breaking to third, I saw Buck going after the ball and home plate was going to be open, so I took a chance,” Wigginton said.
“The play’s in front of me, so you’re probably the best base coach there is. If you can see the play, you go ahead and take your chance.”
That chance scored a run, and that run broke a 3-3 tie. Clutch? … sure. For one night, anyway.
(Time out. I have to be honest. At precisely the moment pictured above, I was yelling, “No, no, no, no!!” The play developed so quickly, all I knew was Wiggy was trying to score from second on an infield hit that went off the pitcher’s foot. My apologies, Sir Wigginton. I didn’t trust your call. Thank you, though, for proving me wrong with that heads-up play!)
That’s the headline story spreading through Cardinal Nation this morning. But, the fact is, far more happened in last night’s win over the Mets. It wasn’t pretty for much of the night. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be. There are no style points in baseball, no matter what ESPN’s Top Plays hosts try to say!
Lance Lynn started the night looking much more like the second half 2012 Lynn. He walked five batters in the first two innings. He was given a 2-0 lead, then gave it up. To be fair, the defense didn’t do him any favors. With two outs in the second inning, Carlos Beltran lost a ball in the sun and couldn’t make the play that turned into a two-run double. Then, Descalso muffed a play of his own, allowing the Mets to take a (brief) 3-2 lead. At that point, it looked as if it would be a LONG night — for Lynn, and the Cardinals.
Matt Holliday missed a golden opportunity in the second inning — bases juiced with one away against a Mets pitcher — Jeremy Hefner — who also struggled early. Holliday, though, grounded into his MLB-leading 10th double play. The cool, calm, collected left fielder was visibly ticked, and rightfully so. Too many times this year have bases-loaded opportunities gone unused.
You know what I liked about this game, though? It was a battle from start to finish, but not one guy hung his head or gave up the fight. Good plays made up for bad ones. Lynn retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced. The defense settled in (you know, once the sun wasn’t a factor anymore!) Wigginton — Ty Wigginton, everyone! — scored the go-ahead run on pure scrappiness. Holliday crushed a two-run bomb to atone for his missed opportunity earlier. Randy Choate, Trevor Rosenthal, and Edward Mujica made it look easy out of the ‘pen.
It was gritty. It was scrappy. It was a battle that all too many times we’ve seen guys lose. Lynn, especially, tends to get stuck in his own head when things don’t start well. This time, fortunately, he found a way out.
And, the Redbirds found a way to win … again. Ten of twelve, you say? I’ll take that any time. Especially when they show the kind of fortitude and determination and that trusty Cardinal ability to bounce back that they did last night!
Today it’s debut time for Mr. John Gast who will be starting opposite Dillon Gee. He’ll throw the first pitch of his Big League career at 7:15 p.m.
Tara is a St. Louis Cardinals reporter for Aaron Miles’ Fastball and a contributor to Around the Horn. Follow her on Twitter @tarawellman.