Pujols’ blast made my day
Things simply couldn’t have unfolded more perfectly.
In my first trip to Busch Stadium — home of my favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals — I saw the best baseball game I’ve ever witnessed. It was magical.
Well, the first eight innings were actually pretty dull. Although St. Louis starter Chris Carpenter pitched an outstanding nine innings, the Cardinals managed just five hits over the first eight frames and trailed the rival Chicago Cubs 2-1 entering the bottom of the ninth.
As Cubs closer Carlos Marmol walked from the bullpen to the mound, I got out my phone and typed into my Facebook status, “Time for Marmol to blow a save!”
And that’s just what happened. Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina led off with a single, but Marmol struck out the next two St. Louis batters. The Cardinals were actually down to their final strike after Marmol got ahead of shortstop Ryan Theriot 0-2, but Theriot battled and lined a 2-2 pitch up the middle for a double, driving in pinch runner Tony Cruz to score the tying run. The two kids sitting in front of me who had been incessantly chanting “Lets go Cubbies!” were suddenly quiet.
Cardinals reliever Fernando Salas retired the Cubs in order in the top of the 10th inning, giving St. Louis an excellent chance to win the game in the bottom of the inning. I updated my Facebook status, “[Albert] Pujols is leading off in the bottom of the 10th!”
With the Cardinals’ slugger at the plate, the packed house in Busch Stadium rose to its feet. And Pujols didn’t disappoint, crushing a 2-1 fastball into the stands for a walk-off home run that completed the Cardinals’ three-game sweep of the Cubs.
“It as almost like everybody knew it was going to happen,” Theriot told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “They were right.”
Pujols’ blast landed one section over and a handful of rows down from where my girlfriend and I were sitting in the left centerfield bleachers. The crowd of people wearing red shirts and red baseball caps erupted into cheers as Pujols rounded the bases.
It was an amazing finish to my first game at Busch Stadium. It highlighted a day where I also went to the top of the Gateway Arch and had my photo taken with the statue of Stan “The Man” Musial. I was so overjoyed I nearly shed a tear.
Pujols’ walk-off homer was his second in as many days, and he not only amazed me, but also his teammates.
“He’s a fabulous player,” Carpenter said to the Post-Dispatch. “He’s a guy who will continue to never not amaze you with the things he can do. It would be neat that when I’m 70 to say that I played with him.”
And I think it will be neat that when I’m 70 I’ll be able to tell my grandchildren about how I saw Albert Pujols, who will likely go down as one of the best players to ever play the game, hit a walk-off home run.
It was a moment I’ll never forget.