San Francisco Chronicle
Rodón roughed up in St. Louis
ST. LOUIS — Some savvy old veterans ambushed Carlos Rodón on Sunday, striking early in every way in what, perhaps, might be the final game against the San Francisco Giants for three prominent St. Louis players.
And by the end of the Cardinals’ 15-6 win, Pujols, a projected first-ballot Hall of Famer, was pitching.
Rodón, San Francisco’s starter, hadn’t allowed a firstpitch hit all year. But perennial Giants’ irritant Paul Goldschmidt smoked a two-run homer on the first pitch he got in the first, just the first big blow in the Cardinals’ stroll at Busch Stadium. That was the first homer Rodón has allowed this season, ending a streak of 171 batters faced without one.
Pujols, who’s likely to retire after this season, smacked a first-pitch double the same inning, and Yadier Molina, who has announced he’ll retire this winter, followed with a two-run, first-pitch single. Boom, St. Louis had four quick runs off Rodón, who hadn’t allowed more than two in his first six starts of the season.
In 32⁄3 innings, Rodón (4-2) gave up eight runs in all, matching his career high — after allowing just five, total, in his previous outings, taking his ERA from 1.50 to 3.49. “It wasn’t very good,” said Rodón, who will take a look at the whole outing, including if it might have tipped any pitches, over the next couple of days. “I threw a lot of strikes, but they got hit.”
Molina also homered in the fifth, and Goldschmidt had three hits in all, including a double, to go with three RBIs and three runs. He’s a lifetime .298 hitter against San Francisco, with 28 homers and 103 RBIs in 154 games. Unsurpris
ingly, another Giants-torcher, Nolan Arenado, also homered. His 33 career homers against San Francisco are tops among current players.
The blowout had a crazy finish. Pujols had not pitched in his 22-year career over his previous 2,987 games. He walked Darin Ruf and gave up a single to Evan Longoria before giving up a three-run homer by Luis González — who was by then pitching for the Giants — and a solo shot by Joey Bart.
“Great theater,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of Pujols taking the mound.
“Just a wild night,” González said. “Some pretty historic things happened in that game, so it was a fun time.”
What was the dugout's reaction when Pujols took the mound? “Everyone was laughing and joking around and stoked,” González said. “I was up like sixth or fifth, and I was just praying I got to hit off him.”
Unless the Giants were to face St. Louis in the postseason, Sunday was likely the last time the team will face Pujols, 42, and Molina, 39. Molina, also a likely Hall of Famer, is in his 19th season.
“As a fan, I remember when the two of them came into the league and obviously I remember the 2004 World Series and these guys were pretty front and center at that time,” said Kapler, who played for Boston in that series against St. Louis. “I have a tremendous level of respect for what they've accomplished throughout their careers and it is really impressive to see these guys continue to produce, to be forces in the batter's box and in Yadi's case in particular, change the game with his defense.”
The Cardinals' starter Sunday, Adam Wainwright, is 40 and he has hinted this will be it for him, too.
“Honestly, I would put Wainwright into a near identical category,” Kapler said. “He's one of the better righthanded pitchers of this generation, and any time he's working hand in hand with Yadi, which is most of the time, it's tough. I just have a lot of respect for the three of those guys.”
Sunday's win had extra significance for Wainwright and Molina, who have served as the battery for 203 team wins — breaking the all-time record of 202 set by Warren Spahn and Del Crandall with the Boston/Milwaukee Brewers from 1949-63.
One S.F. highlight: The Giants did have a notable moment: Joc Pederson hit his first homer since missing three games at the end of April with a groin strain. The two-run shot in the sixth gives Pederson seven homers for the season.
Pederson was 1-for-28 since coming back from the groin strain before the homer off Wainwright; the previous day, he'd said he felt his swing was getting closer to where he needs it to be. “It's coming,” he'd promised.
“Over the course of the last 30 plate appearances or so it's been tough sledding, but he's here because he rakes,” Kapler said before the game. “Every time I look at him, I think, ‘You rake, you know how to manage an at-bat.' ”
Position player pitcher alert!:
Outfielder González worked the final inning and a half and was throwing ... 42 mph to 85 mph. What in the world?
“I had to tone it down,” González joked of his slower stuff.
González, who pitched in college but hadn't done so in the pros, allowed only one hit, and he singled and homered to lift his average to .349. But with the Giants close to full strength and Pederson able to play in the outfield again, González is a candidate to be sent out when Tommy La Stella comes off the injured list this week.