Diamondbacks Clip Cardinals in Wild One; Ahmed Golfs Double on Bounced Pitch

Ketel Marte of the Diamondbacks in a rundown against the Cardinals
(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Diamondbacks 8, Cardinals 7

ST. LOUIS, Apr. 18 — A wild evening at Busch Stadium, one that included a two-run Nick Ahmed double on a pitch that bounced, culminated in an 8–7 victory for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the St. Louis Cardinals Tuesday night. In the process, they overcame a two-homer game by Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras.

The Diamondbacks missed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the top of the first against Cardinals left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Second baseman Ketel Marte smashed a triple off the wall in right-center, the second straight night a Diamondbacks leadoff hitter opened the game with an extra-base hit. After designated hitter Josh Rojas grounded to short against a drawn-in infield, forcing Marte to stay at third, left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. smacked a comebacker. Marte ran on contact, so when Montgomery grabbed it, Marte was a dead duck. During the run-down (1–5–2), Gurriel advanced to second. That brought up first baseman Christian Walker, whose strikeout left Gurriel stranded. The missed chance hurt the Diamondbacks even more in the bottom half when Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt belted a one-out solo homer off Diamondbacks right-hander Drey Jameson.

If He Was Safe, He Would Have Been Out…but He Was Out, So He Was Safe?!?

After the Diamondbacks went down in order in the top of the second, Jameson ran into trouble. It started with a one-out double to left-center by left fielder Tyler O’Neill. Walks to center fielder Dylan Carlson and third baseman Taylor Motter loaded the bases for Tommy Edman, who flied to third. Right fielder Lars Nootbaar hit a grounder deep in the hole on the left side. Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed backhanded it on the run and whipped the ball to second. Marte caught the ball almost at the same time that Motter, who didn’t slide, arrived at the bag. Motter overran the bag and made contact with Marte, albeit with no force. After the two came together — and after O’Neill crossed the plate — Marte reached bag behind him and tagged Motter on the thigh.

Initially, second base umpire Adrian Johnson called Motter out on the force. The Cardinals challenged. The replay showed that Motter beat the throw, so the umpires ruled Motter safe. Since he had initially been called out, the ball was immediately dead by rule. Therefore, any action after the out call had to be ignored, also by rule. However, had he initially been called safe, he would have been out on the tag. The run would have counted either way, but with Motter being rule safe after replay review, the run not only counted but the inning also continued. Goldschmidt struck out looking, rendering the inning extension moot as the inning ended with the Cardinals leading, 2–0.

Diamondbacks Rally Past Cardinals with Big Inning

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The Diamondbacks slashed the deficit to 2–1 in the top of the third. Catcher Gabriel Moreno led off with a double to left. Three batters later, poked a base hit down the left-field line. Moreno scored easily. The ball hit the wall in foul ground and bounced back in front of the left fielder, so Rojas was out by several feet as he tried to stretch it into a double.

In the top of the fourth, the Diamondbacks teed off on Montgomery. Gurriel singled to right. Walker doubled to center, scoring Gurriel and tying the game. Longoria singled to center, putting runners on the corners for McCarthy. He hit a grounder to Goldschmidt at first base, who threw home. Walker broke back to third as Contreras fired to Motter. Somehow, a diving Walker evaded Motter’s tag, and everyone was safe. That brought up Ahmed with the bases now loaded and nobody out. On 2–2, Ahmed swung at a low curveball. Despite the pitch bouncing, Ahmed golfed a double into shallow left, scoring both Walker and Longoria to give the Diamondbacks a 4–2 lead. Moreno followed with a homer to the seats in left-center, making it a 7–2 game.

Cardinals Say “Not So Fast…”

The Cardinals narrowed the gap in the bottom of the sixth against Kevin Ginkel. O’Neill flared a single to shallow right and scored on a follow-up double by Carlson, a deep fly off the wall in center. Ginkel and lefty Joe Mantiply, freshly returned from the injured list, combined to keep the Cardinals from scoring any further in the frame.

The Diamondbacks made it 8–3 in the top of the seventh. Rojas singled to left and advanced to second on a deflected single by Gurriel. Edman gathered it after it caromed off Motter, firing to second too late to force a sliding Rojas. When Walker followed with a fly to deep right, Rojas tagged and advanced to third. Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol gave Chris Stratton the hook and brought in JoJo Romero. Evan Longoria welcomed Romero with a sharp single to left, scoring Rojas with the eighth run. A one-out Contreras homer off Mantiply in the bottom of the seventh — his first as a Cardinal — brought the score to 8–4.

Cardinals Make Diamondbacks Sweat

Romero pitched a scoreless top of the eighth for the Cardinals. Scott McGough followed suit in the bottom half for the Diamondbacks. Jordan Hicks continued where Romero left off in the top of the ninth, keeping the score 8–4 as Andrew Chafin took the mound for the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the ninth. Nootbaar drew a leadoff walk and advanced to third on a Goldschmidt double to right. A groundout to second by designated hitter Alec Burleson plated Nootbaar, making the score 8–5. That brought up Contreras, who hit a screaming opposite-field liner off the end of the bat. It snuck over the wall near the right-field pole for a two-run homer.

With the score now 8–7, Marmol sent up Nolan Arenado to pinch-hit. Lovullo countered with right-hander Miguel Castro. After a delay due to confusion over mound visits, Arenado lined the first pitch to Thomas in center. That brought up O’Neill with two outs. Castro threw three balls before tossing a called strike. He then threw a changeup that was called ball four, drawing questions from Lovullo over whether O’Neill was ready in time. Up came Carlson as the winning run. The count ran to 2–2 on Carlson before he grounded to short for the game-ending out.

“We Showed a Lot of Resilience”

A proud Lovullo, when asked if he feels this game represented his team’s mental strength and ability to win in unusual situations, responded, “I don’t think, against this team, any lead is comfortable. We took nothing for granted but kept tacking on runs. And we were very resilient. We continued to apply pressure by having quality at-bats.” He concluded with, “We showed a lot of resilience today.”

Ichiro, Vladdy, and Ahmed

When Ahmed doubled on the ball that bounced, that was not the first time Lovullo saw someone do that. While playing in an exhibition game in Japan, Lovullo saw one of his opponents hit a bounced pitch — Ichiro Suzuki. “I thought it was one of the greatest feats ever in hitting a baseball,” Lovullo recalled. “But Nick Ahmed now joins that company.” When asked later to clarify, Lovullo said, “I told my interpreter to get two baseballs and send them over there. That guy is gonna be the greatest hitter of all time.”

About the hit, Ahmed joked, “I’m thinking about trying out for cricket next year.” He added in seriousness that the team had good at-bats. In addition, he pointed out how big it was for Walker to avoid the tag and get back to third. “Bases loaded, nobody out for me instead of first and second, one out is a huge difference. It really changed the game. That moment let us break that inning open. I got down to two strikes and was trying to put the ball in play and score a run. Saw the curveball, and it kept breaking a lot more than I thought it was. But I was determined to get that thing put in play. Thankfully, it dropped in for a hit there.”

When told that he was now in company with Ichiro and Vladimir Guerrero — a no-doubt future Hall of Famer and a current Hall of Famer — Ahmed gave a humble smile. “That’s a good conversation to be part of. Some pretty good hitters right there.” Had Ahmed ever done that before? “Not even close,” he said, still grinning. “Hopefully never again. I hope I don’t swing at any balls that bounce. Hopefully that’s the last one.”

“Each Out Matters”

Walker getting back to third safely was a microcosm of how relentless the Diamondbacks are on the bases. Ahmed said, “We don’t give up.” He added, “We get on base, run the bases hard, run them smart and aggressively. Each out matters and counts a lot. Even little stuff like Ketel getting in the rundown when he was on third, extending Gurriel to be able to get to second. Those little things add up and count. They don’t show up in the box score, but they make a big difference in winning games.”

Quick Hits

By allowing 10 hits and seven runs, Jordan Montgomery tied his career high in both categories. … Paul Goldschmidt extended his on-base streak to 17 games this season. It is his longest career on-base streak to start a season. In addition, five of his last seven hits have gone for extra bases. … Gurriel, with two singles in the fourth, became the first Diamondback with two hits in the same inning since Carson Kelly on August 6, 2021 on road against the San Diego Padres.

Looking Ahead

Kyle Nelson (3–0) got the sin in relief for the Diamondbacks (11–7), while Montgomery (2–2) took the loss for the Cardinals (7–11). Castro notched his first save of the season. It was also the eighth of his career and first since August 8, 2020 at the Washington Nationals while with the Baltimore Orioles.

The Diamondbacks and Cardinals will play the finale of their three-game series Wednesday afternoon. Diamondbacks lefty Madison Bumgarner (0–2, 7.90 ERA) will face Cardinals righty Jake Woodford (0–2, 5.65 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 12:15 pm Central Time/10:15 am Arizona Time.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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