Prior to Sunday, the St. Louis Cardinals had played 11,871 regular-season games in the last three-quarters of a century, winning 6,399 of them. But only nine of those, or about one in every 1,300 contests, ended with a Cardinals grand slam.
On Sunday, it became ten.
All Aaron Miles needed in the
bottom of the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon at Busch Stadium was a fly ball
to chase Albert Pujols home from third base. The 5-5 tie with
A win would also move his club within two games of the first-place Chicago Cubs and keep the Cardinals perfect since the All-Star break, with important momentum established heading into a four-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers, right behind them in the National League Central standings. In an important measurement to manager Tony La Russa, his team would reach 14 games over .500 for the first time in 2008.
Miles did his part and more, slamming a home run into the right field bullpen. The bases-clearing shot off Padres reliever Bryan Corey turned what could have been a demoralizing loss into yet another come-from-behind victory, this one by a 9-5 score.
Only in the wacky world of MLB could Jason Isringhausen be credited with a hold despite allowing three hits in the ninth inning. One run scored while he was in there and the then-game tying run was his responsibility when it scored on a double against Brad Thompson. For his efforts, Thompson earned a blown save and a gift win.
Miles wouldn't let it end on a down note, however. His game-ending feat was just the tenth Cardinals walk-off grand slam in the last 75 years and the third time in four seasons. Prior to that, almost twenty years had transpired since its last occurrence.
The other nine big hitters range from the familiar – Pepper Martin and David Eckstein, to the obscure – Joe Hague and Roger Freed. Cardinals greats such as Stan Musial, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols are among those noticeably absent.
Cardinals walk-off grand slams
7/14/1936 9 Dodgers 7-7 Pepper Martin HR 4 11-7
7/30/1957 9 SF 3-3 Joe Cunningham HR 4 7-3
8/11/1970 9 SD 6-10 Carl Taylor HR 4 11-10
9/24/1971 10 Mon 6-6 Joe Hague HR 4 10-6
5/1/1979 11 Hou 3-6 Roger Freed HR 4 7-6
7/18/1984 11 SF 4-4 Darrell Porter HR 4 8-4
4/18/1987 10 NYM 7-8 Tommy Herr HR 4 12-8
8/7/2005 9 Atl 1-3 David Eckstein HR 4 5-3
8/27/2006 9 ChC 6-6 Gary Bennett HR 4 10-6
7/20/2008 9 SD 5-5 Aaron Miles HR 4 9-5
Sunday was not the first time
Miles had a game-winning hit in the last at-bat, but neither previous occurrence
was a walk-off hit.
Aaron Miles Game Winning Last At-Bat Hits
On the Road
7/9/2006 12 Hou 5-5 Aaron Miles 2B 2 7-5
Bottom of the 8th at
Note: A special thanks to reader Tom Orf for pulling the historical walk-off and game-winning data featured above.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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