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Matt Holliday, No 2017 Option, Slams Out His First Pinch-Hitter Home Run In Cardinals Shutout Over Pirates

Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Holliday, activated from the DL, slugs out his first pinch-hitter home run in the seventh.
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

The news was announced by the St. Louis Cardinals organization yesterday, they would not pick-up the 2017 option ($17 MM) for their eight year veteran, LF Matt Holliday. He has spent the last month and a half on the DL due to injury sustained on August 11 against the Chicago Cubs. He was hit-by-a-pitch by reliever Mike Montgomery which resulted in a fractured right thumb that required surgery to repair with pin inserted. In rehab, live batting practice, his thumb reacted with swelling that delayed his return to the regular season line-up. However, in lieu of yesterday's news, Holliday was activated from the DL so he could wear the Cardinals "Birds on the Bat" one last time in his career. 

Holliday's teammates set the stage for him to make an appearance in last night's first game hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Cardinals Carlos Martinez faced Pirates rookie Tyler Glasnow. He threw seven scoreless innings, only allowed five hits, only issued one free pass; and, fanned nine while on the bump. Glasnow, his second appearance facing the Cardinals, gave up one hit in his five innings. In his third, no outs on the board, Jedd Gyorko slugs out his 29 season home run on a solo shot right above the visitors bullpen to put the Cardinals on the board. 

Trevor Williams followed Glasnow, and the Cardinals did not hold back. Rookie Aledmys Diaz reached first on a throwing error by 1B John Jaso. Yadier Molina followed with a RBI double deep into center. Stephen Piscotty knocked out a RBI double "inside-out" to come into second base standing; and, adding a bit more insurance for a 3-0 Cardinals lead.

Williams got his first out before Brandon Moss came to the plate. Moss, who has been in a major slump, 7-96, turned the page. On a 1-1 pitch, Moss sends the two-seamer sailing out right above the track for a two-run homer. His 28 for the season. 

Zach Phillips followed for the seventh. C Martinez finished for his night; and, #7 Matt Holliday to the plate what might be his last appearance as a St. Louis Cardinals. Prior to his DL stint, Holliday had 19 HR/60 RBI. He was top-of-the-order pinch hitting for Martinez. I dub Holliday the "Quiet Man". Never showing too much emotion one way or the other. He's been a player that has taken the field to do his job with a serious effort to do his best. With the news of the day, coming to bat to a standing ovation; and, at the plate fighting emotions rarely seen, he faced Phillips. He did not waste too many pitches by Phillips. First pitch a strike, second he fouled off ~ getting a feel for leather to bat? As we have seen so many times in the past, Holliday connected with the two-seamer. He sent a missile over the right center wall into the Cardinals bullpen, on a 0-2 count, for a solo home run. Cardinals bullpen, dugout and all those in Busch Stadium filled the park with roaring appreciation. 

That was Holliday's first pinch-hit career home run and the Cardinals 17 this season. For Cardinals fans, Cardinals "Magic Number is Six." Holliday's home run was the sixth run on the board. He will be missed by Cardinals Nation, who hold a great deal of respect and appreciation for the left-fielder - on the field and off. He and family have been a part of the St. Louis community. Holliday has been a tremendous player since he was signed at the trade deadline in 2009. Holliday stated last night he would like to continue to play - somewhere. At 36 years old, I'm presuming a very good DH for an American League team. I only wish him and his family the very best in their future. A very surreal moment for Holliday; and, not only teammates, but close friends - Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. 

Phillips would go on to allow two runners on. Molina, the hero in the final game against the Cincinnati Reds in Cardinals 4-3 walk-off win, grounded into a double play for a RBI to give the Cardinals their final 7-0 win. C Martinez earned his 16 win while handing Glasnow his second loss this season. His second loss to the Cardinals. 

Will Cardinals fans see Holliday again during the weekend? I'm presuming he will be in the dugout with the team. However, depending on the swelling in his thumb after such a great hit, he may not be back at the plate. I'm sure of one fact. The decision to let go of a tremendous player, who has given 100% to his ability when healthy, was not taken lightly. Even though; and, as hard as it was in my opinion, Holliday understands the organization's decision for all concerned. The business side of baseball; or, any sport, is dictated by performance, continued contribution and endurance. Sports business is not based on the fans player popularity contest.  

As is customary for the home run hitter in the Cardinals dugout, Carlos Martinez anoints Holliday with his ceremonial baptism blessing for job well done. 

Matt Holliday receives the customary HR baptism by teammate, Carlos Martinez.

Holliday's "exit" statement to All ~ 

GAME TWO ~ FIRST PITCH AT 12:05 SATURDAY ~ NEXT TO LAST GAME THIS SEASON. 

The Cardinals keep their postseason hopes alive with their shutout win last night. However, they are still the "underdog" holding in third place, one game behind the San Francisco Giants and two games behind the New York Mets. All three teams won their games last night. No game can be taken for granted, and the Cardinals must keep their new found energy on high. 

Cardinals Michael Wacha (7-7/4.93 ERA) will face Pirates rookie Chad Kuhl (5-4/4.25 ERA). This will be Wacha's first start since coming off the DL (August 8-September 14/shoulder). The Cardinals chose Wacha over LHP starter Jaime Garcia, who also had spent his time in the bullpen. Wacha followed J Garcia in his last start, only going 1 IP and giving up two home runs. Wacha, only pitching 1.1 innings, gave up 1 HR/7 ER. I have mixed feelings as a few days ago J Garcia was penciled in to make the start. There is no report of shoulder/arm issues J Garcia has experienced in his past. Just not sure the reasoning behind manager Mike Matheny's decision for this afternoon's start. This season, Wacha is 0-1 facing the Pirates, 17.1 IP/1 HR/10 ER/14 SO. The situation may be flipped in today's game. Should Wacha show ill signs on the hill, J Garcia is to be his back-up. However, he is 0-0 against the Pirates, 5 IP/2 HR/4 ER allowed. One tough decision for Matheny. 

Kuhl will make his second start facing the Cardinals. He last faced them, at Busch Stadium, September 5. His appearance was short with only 2 IP. He allowed three earned runs on four hits and had two strikeouts. He was handed his third season loss in the Cardinals 12-6 win. He is 2-2 this month hold a 5.82 ERA. 

This match-up could prove to be one of 'endurance and least amount of damage' to see which starter out lasts the other. 


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