ST. LOUIS -- On a day when he reached base three times, tallied a pair of singles and drove in a run with two out, Jason Heyward's most remarkable achievement in the Cardinals' 3-2 win over the Royals on Saturday was snaring a ball he never saw.
Looking directly into the sun as shadows began to permeate other parts of the field, Heyward retreated on Kendrys Morales' line drive to right field with one on and one out and the Cardinals clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth. All he could do was hold up his glove. Falling backward, Heyward made the catch over his right shoulder.
"I saw it off the bat, and that was the last time I saw it until I went to throw it in," Heyward said. "You just hope. You just hope. That one found me, and thank God it did. If it didn't, then they probably would have scored a run. … I was surprised when it hit my glove."
It is possible the Royals would have tied the game in the inning without the catch from the two-time Gold Glove outfielder. Lorenzo Cain was already stationed on first and ready to take off had the ball gotten past Heyward. Salvador Perez also followed the catch with a single.
"That's the game," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "That play is even so much more difficult than he made it look. That's a game-changing play. He somehow stuck with it. Great play."
Royals manager Ned Yost, from a differing perspective, described the catch as "lucky."
"He wasn't even looking," Yost continued. "There's some skill involved, but he wasn't even looking and it wound up in his glove. That's when you start thinking, 'Whoa, we're in trouble here.'"
Heyward has had limited experience playing at Busch Stadium at that time a day, one which regularly causes fits for the team's outfielders. In fact, the sun and shadows became such a nuisance that Matheny, in his first season as manager, began moving up batting practice start times to avoid them.
This was the Cardinals' third home game this season to feature a mid-afternoon start time.
"It's definitely tough," Heyward said. "It's part of our game playing in an open stadium. In playoff times, there are those [start] times, so I guess you want those times as much as possible."