With the 2014 regular season just four (Yadi!) days away, this will be the final Cardinals Throwback Thursday post for a while. What better way to make an impact than with a career highlight from the blog’s namesake — the only walk-off homer of his career, which just happened to be a grand slam?
The date was July 20, 2008. It was, believe it or not, Jaime Garcia’s first major league start and second big-league appearance, and the Cards starting lineup that day included Skip Schumaker, Aaron batting second, Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel, Troy Glaus, Chris Duncan, Jason LaRue and Adam Kennedy. Oh, and Jaime hit eighth.
It was a Sunday afternoon just after the All-Star break, the conclusion of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals had taken the first three games, plus won their final game before the All-Star break, so they had a nice streak going. According to Matthew Leach’s article at Cardinals.com, it was “a definitively miserable St. Louis summer day.”
And here’s more from Leach’s article to set the stage for Our Namesake’s heroics. (Warning: painful Izzy memories ahead.)
Glaus had put St. Louis ahead, 5-3, in the bottom of the eighth with a monstrous three-run homer. Glaus had two home runs as of the morning of May 31, and has ripped 16 since.
Jason Isringhausen, called on for what would have been his first save since May 5, retired the first batter of the ninth on a ground ball. But Scott Hairston singled and Edgar Gonzalez doubled, cutting the lead to a single run. After Brian Giles singled, Isringhausen was removed for Brad Thompson, who allowed a game-tying double to Kevin Kouzmanoff, but no further damage.
As Leach also writes, that was the 23rd blown save of the season for the Cardinals — and a reminder it was July 20 — but they also had 24 come-from-behind wins plus 12 walk-off victories.
Which leads us back to Aaron.
To set the scene:
Albert Pujols started the winning rally when he drew a one-out walk in the ninth. Padres catcher Luke Carlin’s pickoff attempt sailed into right field, allowing Pujols to motor all the way to third base. The Padres issued intentional walks to Yadier Molina and Skip Schumaker, bringing up Miles, who delivered the game-ender.
It was his third home run of the year, the 15th of his career and his second Major League grand slam. Miles had never hit a walk-off shot in the Majors or, he said, at any other level. He became the 10th player in Cardinals history to hit a walk-off grand slam.
“That’s a feeling I wasn’t sure I was going to get to experience, that walk-off homer,” Miles said. “But it happened to me. I’d never done it before, not in the Minor Leagues or anywhere, so it’s a great feeling.”
And, because seeing is always better — especially when it’s the opposing team’s call of not just a walk-off grand slam but also the conclusion of a four-game sweep — watch and listen to Matt Vasgerian for the entire ninth inning. You also get the chance to see Yadi come into the game to pinch-hit for Brad Thompson with a 1-0 count.
That whole inning is just fantastic — “oh my heavens … of all the ways you look for Aaron Miles to beat you, that’s not the first way that comes to mind.”
No, but it was definitely a thing of beauty.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.