On Tuesday, outfielder Ryan Ludwick collected his ninth final-at bat winning hit in the last three-plus years for the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals number two hitter Ryan Ludwick saved a number of people with his game-winning 434-foot home run to left field in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night.
He saved his manager, Tony La Russa, from second-guessing for leaving a tiring 35-year-old Chris Carpenter in the game to pitch the eighth. That move backfired when the visiting Washington Nationals plated the tying run, potentially taking a win away from the Cardinals ace, whose 118 pitches thrown were his highest count in a game post-2007 elbow surgery.
Ludwick saved Carpenter, who exhibited considerable anger upon his return to the dugout in the middle of the eighth, obviously frustrated in having yielded the second run. Instead of a defeat, the home run gave Carp his fifth win of the season in six decisions and his sixth victory in seven career decisions against the Nationals/Expos franchise.
The right-fielder saved his team, still struggling to score runs. The Cardinals managed to squeak out the win despite putting just three men in scoring position during the entire game.
The offense once again made a middling opposing starter look like Bud “Chuck” Norris. Nats starter John Lannan came in with an unimpressive career 21-32 record, but held the St. Louis bats to five hits in six innings. He actually lowered his season ERA to a still-hefty 6.02 in the process.
Ludwick himself didn’t need saving as he has now hit safely in 16 of 18 games at Busch Stadium this season.
In an indication of the closeness of Cardinals wins this season, researcher Tom Orf pulled out this tidbit. Tuesday night was the fourth time that the Cardinals scored the winning run in the bottom of the eighth at home this season alone after doing it just five times in total over the previous two years.
Others on the Cardinals have been tagged as being clutch hitters, yet in terms of results with the game on the line at the end, Ludwick is the undisputed king.
Orf notes that Ludwick’s Tuesday blast was his team-leading ninth game-winning hit in his club’s last at-bat since 2007. Eight of the nine occurred at home, including four walkoffs. Five of the nine game-winners were home runs.
Ryan Ludwick last at-bat game-winning hits, 2007-present