Just one night after New York Mets outfielder Shawn Green’s walk off home run in the 11th inning sunk the St. Louis Cardinals, rookie St. Louis infielder Brendan Ryan one-upped Green and his home team in Tuesday’s 11th inning with a game-winning home run of his own.
Ryan’s blast leading off the frame on a 3-2 offering by Mets reliever Scott Schoenweis traveled an estimated 365 feet over the left field wall and into the Cards bullpen where friends retrieved the memento for the 25-year-old. The shot helped power the Cardinals to a much-needed 5-3 win over the New Yorkers.
Ryan’s first Major League home run was also just his eighth in his professional career over four-and-a-half seasons, including one in Memphis earlier this year.
Despite the tremendous evening, Ryan can see the handwriting on the wall. He knows his time in his second call-up this month and in his short Major League career is about over. With David Eckstein almost ready to come off the 15-day disabled list, in as soon as two days from now, Ryan will likely return to Triple-A Memphis - until the next opportunity presents itself.
Yet, after a 3-for-4 performance Tuesday night, including that game-winning home run, the man called “The Boog” is making his case to hang around just a little while longer. (The nickname comes from his resemblance as a baby to the former Orioles’ slugger Boog Powell. Big Boog currently has 338 more career MLB home runs than Little Boog so that record should remain safe for some time.)
Boog the younger scored twice and drove in two of the Cardinals’ five runs on Tuesday. He also played flawless defense at both second base and shortstop, where he shifted as the game went into extra frames. It was Ryan’s second-ever professional start at second, yet he made an excellent play on a big twin killing in the fourth inning.
As we were chatting before Tuesday’s game, Ryan told me that more than anything, he had a “burning desire to make a big difference in just one Cardinals’ win” (before being sent back down). At that point, the Californian did not even know he was in Tuesday’s lineup, let alone that his wish would come true later that very evening.
Ryan mentioned that he thought Anthony Reyes was starting. I said I didn’t think so, that it was Todd Wellemeyer’s turn. When we walked over to where bench coach Joe Pettini had taped the lineup card to the wall, much to his and my surprise, Ryan saw his name among the starters, playing second base and hitting eighth. All of the sudden, he didn’t care that I was right about Wellemeyer.
I asked La Russa before the game what went into his decision to start Ryan. The skipper said it was an easy choice. Here is the chain reaction. Scott Rolen wasn’t ready to go given his sore foot. That put Scott Spiezio at third base. Adam Kennedy continues to struggle and the Mets were starting a lefty, Oliver Perez. La Russa also complimented Ryan on his play in a recent start in Oakland. And that is the logic that put Ryan in the starting lineup.
Following the contest, La Russa had no way of knowing that Brendan’s brother Paul, the subject of my recent story, “Backing Shortstop Ryan”, arrives Wednesday from California to see the final two games of the Mets series. Yet, the manager ended up rewarding both Ryan brothers when he made a declaration that Brendan would be on his line-up card again come Wednesday.
After all, what more could Brendan Ryan ask than to go one day at a time?
Exclusive! Subscriber-only audio
Tony La Russa discusses Ryan’s performance, including why he left him in as the game went into extra innings and his outlook on the infielder’s future.
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Brendan Ryan discusses his career day, including an impromptu beer shower after the game, getting his home run ball, riding the subway with David Eckstein and much, much more. (As an aside, while I was interviewing Ryan, Aaron Miles and Albert Pujols were circling the edges looking for a television camera to catch them plastering the rookie’s face with a shaving cream pie. And wise third base coach Jose Oquendo advised Ryan not to spend all night answering his text and phone messages. After all, Ryan is starting again on Wednesday.)
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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