SAN DIEGO (KMOX) - In a game with a potential National League MVP, a catcher approaching a career playoff milestone and the odd feeling of no fans in what should have been a raucous atmosphere – a 21-year-old named Dylan Carlson captured the spotlight.
Here's why the rookie was the best part about Wednesday's 7-4 victory for the St. Louis Cardinals over the San Diego Padres in Game 1 of the National League Wild Card Series:
1. Carlson is only the ninth Cardinal rookie and third at his age to bat cleanup in a postseason game.
The only other Cardinals to do it – Stan Musial in the 1942 World Series vs the New York Yankees and Albert Pujols in the 2001 NLDS vs the Arizona Diamondbacks.
But he did something neither of those Hall of Famers (well, one current and one future Hall of Famer) could do in their games – win. Both those games for Musial and Pujols were losses for St. Louis.
And this was only Carlson's second MLB game hitting fourth in the lineup. His first came on Sunday he was 0-4 with two strikeouts.
2. He did something no other player in his MLB postseason debut has done. Carlson was 2-3 with two walks and a double. He reached base four times, stole a base, scored twice and struck out only once.
No other MLB player’s postseason debut came with two hits, a double, two runs scored and two walks. He's also the youngest with that stat line, plus one stolen base in a postseason game.
3. And he played some great defense.
Carlson made a diving catch on a rocket line drive off the bat of San Diego's $300 million man, Manny Machado, in the 7th inning. The Cardinals were clinging to a two-run lead at the time.
4. Carlson was demoted earlier this month.
On Sept. 8 – as Carlson was hitting .176 with an on-base percentage of .233 – he was reassignment to the Cardinals’ alternate site in Springfield. There were no promises he would return to the MLB roster.
But he did come back, going 10 for 36 with four doubles, a triple and two home runs in 12 games. He clearly earned the respect of Cardinals veteran first baseman Paul Goldschimdt:
"He's very even-keeled. He's done it in spring training as a 19 and 20-year-old. That's the thing that has impressed me. I remember seeing the same thing then. Everyone is going to go through their ups and downs, but the guys that stay even-keeled, that have a good preparation for the game, have a good game plan and take consistent at-bats, they give themselves a chance to have success."
1. He could have been a San Diego Padre.
Just as we told you yesterday about current Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. nearly becoming part of the Cardinals organization, Carlson could have been in San Diego.
The Padres passed on him three times in the 2016 MLB June Amateur Draft, before St. Louis took him as the 33rd overall pick.