CHICAGO -- The Cardinals may have urged Matt Holliday to remain controlled and cautious while running, but the designated hitter showed no such restraint with his swing while lifting the club to an 8-5 win against the White Sox on Tuesday.
Holliday singled and scored without having to exert himself too much in the third before blasting a first-pitch slider from Chicago starter Carlos Rodon for a grand slam with one out in the fourth. The grand slam, No. 6 of Holliday's career, was projected by Statcast™ to have traveled 412 feet, and ran the Cardinals' early lead to 7-0.
The homer was also the first for Holliday since he came off the disabled list on Friday. He had missed 31 games while nursing a right quad strain.
"That's a game-changer," manager Mike Matheny said of Holliday's fourth homer of the year. "We needed something big to happen. It was great to see. It's just great having him back as part of our club. He's just such a big piece."
There were all sorts of unique familial connections with the moment, too. Holliday's father, Tom, had served as Rodon's pitching coach at North Carolina State University. And watching from the dugout was White Sox manager Robin Ventura, who used to babysit Holliday and his brother, Josh, while playing at Oklahoma State University, also for Tom Holliday.
The Cardinals welcomed this visit to an American League ballpark, as it offered the Cardinals an opportunity to keep Holliday's bat in the lineup while otherwise keeping him off the field. Holliday is expected to serve as the designated hitter again on Wednesday.
Though he did start in left field twice during a weekend series against the Mets, Holliday remains bridled as he still heals from the quad injury. Sacrificing a bit of speed was a tradeoff the Cardinals were willing to make in order to have Holliday's offensive production. The club is now 37-18 with Holliday in the starting lineup this year and has won three of four games since he returned.
"I recognize that it's not quite ready to be pushed 100 percent, and I'm not going to try to push it on an infield ball or anything unless it's a huge spot," Holliday said. "I'm going to take it easy until I feel like it's 100 percent."
He showed that restraint on an eighth-inning groundball that likely would have been an infield hit had Holliday been running with more urgency. Instead, he settled for reaching base three other times on the night.
"He's being smart right now," Matheny said. "We are going to try, when we can right now, to get him some relief whether it's defensive relief or bringing in someone to run for him. But he's making good progress. He's just got to be careful."