Game 134 // Ninth Inning, St. Louis // The No-Namers



The Cardinals are scraping by. Week by week. Plumbing the depths of decent, of well-roundedness—and, in a way we don’t know how, scraping their way into contention.

They’re down 8-5 in the ninth.

And a string of no-namers comes up: Bader, Voit, Munoz.



The Pirates  have Felipe Vazquez on the mound to close. 3.22 ERA on the year. A win would tie them in the standings with St. Louis. 

And on a full count, Harrison Bader at bat, he gives up a double down the line to left.



Tommy Pham gets on base after a sharp ground ball bounces off the glove of Sean Rodriguez—and the tying run comes up to the plate.



Marcell Ozuna walks, and in comes Luke Voit to pinch hit.

“The St. Louis native!” they say on TV.



He singles on a line drive to left. Two runs score. Ozuna sneaks into third base, hustling over from first.

8-7, now.

Cardinals down one. No outs.

And then, Yairo Munoz comes up. Vasquez still pitching.

We don’t know who he is, but he looks good up there. He sounds good up there. Yairo. Yairo. Yairo.

And with a 0-0 count, a fastball down the middle, Yairo puts a ball onto the grass in center field. Onto the other grass, the far back grass. Beyond center field. Crashing down onto the hill, bouncing, twice, and staying put.



The quickest five-run rally you’ll ever see.

Not one pitching change, no commercial, eighteen pitches, six minutes.

And when the season began, you looked around the NL Central, you looked around the league, and you thought: How are the Cardinals going to match this?

They picked up Fowler. They picked up Ozuna. But how are they going to match this? The Cubs, the Brewers, the Nationals, the Dodgers, the Giants, the others.

An answer, scrappy and inconsistent, has arrived—mixing and matching its way into a string of wins just long enough to compete.



Harrison Bader.

Luke Voit.

Yairo Munoz.

The No-Name Birds of St. Louis are here. Scraping their way into legitimacy.

Into the old, intimidating ways of the Cardinals we know.