LOS ANGELES – Two of the St. Louis Cardinals’ top performers this season delivered in a showcase of baseball’s best Tuesday evening.
While the National League dropped its ninth straight MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, Cardinals’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and relief pitcher Ryan Helsley took advantage of limited opportunities in the midsummer classic.
Goldschmidt, voted by fans as the Cardinals’ lone All-Star starter, had a particularly busy first inning. The All-Star game began with a first-pitch, leadoff single to Los Angeles Angels’ phenom Shohei Ohtani. Three pitches later, Goldschmidt flashed his Gold Glove-caliber defense for the game’s first out, teaming up with Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw to pick off Ohtani at first base.
Later in the inning, hitting cleanup in the NL starting lineup, Goldschmidt smoked a 2-0 pitch to the left-field bleachers off Tampa Bay Rays’ starting pitcher Shane McClanahan. His solo home run added on to an early National League lead and doubled the team’s offensive output in the opening frame.
Goldschmidt’s All-Star Game home run was the first from a Cardinals hitter since Yadier Molina in 2017. It was the first of three in the game Tuesday night before the American League took the lead on back-ot-back jacks from Giancarlo Stanton and Byron Buxton.
Due to a crowded NL field at first base, highlighted by four All-Stars at the position, Goldschmidt was limited to three innings in the field and one at-bat. Goldschmidt made one more putout in the second inning before the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman pinch-hit for him in the third.
The home run caps a remarkable first half for Goldschmidt, one that featured a .330 batting average, 20 home runs and 70 RBI. He is currently on pace for personal-best in home runs and RBI, while his 4.8 WAR is second-best in the league behind teammate Nolan Arenado.
The National League couldn’t draw up much more offensively after the first inning, and though two quick home runs gave the American League a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, the NL’s arms kept the game in tact. One NL pitcher worked in every inning of the game, and Helsley was assigned to eighth-inning duties.
Helsley retired three of four hitters he faced, striking out two on some high heat. The Cardinals’ by-committee closer fired a 103-mph fastball to Minnesota Twins’ infielder Luis Arraez before ultimately striking him out.
Helsley joins Aroldis Chapman as the only pitcher to ever clock 103 miles per hour in an All-Star Game during the Statcast era. The 28-year-old has been a reliable relief pitcher in most situations for the Cardinals this season, enjoying a 5-1 record, 0.69 ERA, eight saves and 57 strikeouts over 39 innings.
Albert Pujols, named to the NL All-Star team as a legacy selection based on career achievements, pinch-hit in the designated hitter spot midway to the game, flying out to the left field warning track. Miles Mikolas, who was named as a reserve to the NL All-Star team on Sunday, did not pitch. Nolan Arenado, initially named as a reserve to the All-Star game at third base, opted out of All-Star festivities due to back tightness.
The Cardinals begin their second half of the season with an eight-game road trip that rolls through Cincinnati, Toronto and Washington D.C.
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