Grichuk, Gyorko slug dingers in win vs. Phils to equal mark set four other times
By Evan Webeck
PHILADELPHIA -- Jedd Gyorko's game-tying blast off Phillies closer Jeanmar Gomez in the ninth inning was the Cardinals' second homer of the game. Notable? Absolutely. But even more so when it marks the club's ninth straight multi-homer game.
St. Louis became the fifth team to go yard at least twice in a Major League-record nine consecutive games when Gyorko followed Randal Grichuk's second-inning solo shot in the Cardinals' 4-3, 11-inning win Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.
"I didn't even know we were close to a record," Gyorko said. "I think it just shows what this lineup is capable of. I'm a big believer that hitting is contagious. The guys in front of you are hitting the ball well, I think that just goes on right down the lineup. One through nine, and 10, 11, 12 the way it's been on this team, we've got some guys that can really put the ball out of the ballpark."
The 2009 Yankees, 1987 and '96 Orioles and '62 Indians also hit multiple homers in nine straight games.
It was only fitting that the Cards tied the game with the long ball. The shoe could have only fit better had Grichuk sent one over the wall rather than off it for his 11th-inning two-bagger that scored Jhonny Peralta to give St. Louis a late and lasting lead.
Gyorko's homer gave the Cardinals 168 for the season, the most in the National League by nine over the Nationals. Nineteen of those homers have come over their nine-game streak, which dates back to their Aug. 9 loss to Cincinnati. With two more Friday night, they're on pace for 225 on the season, 10 off the franchise record set in 2000. Manager Mike Matheny was the starting catcher for that team, though with only six home runs, he left the heavy lifting to Jim Edmonds (42) and Mark McGwire (32).
"You get into a good groove early on and you start feeling good about yourself being able to hit for power," Matheny said prior to Friday's game. "It gives a better chance to prolong it. They've done a nice job of it, keeping us in games.
"On the other side of that, when you're developing young players, it's a progression. You're just trying to show that you fit. Then when they start to prove that to themselves and the rest of the league, then you add components, and one of those components is power."
J.D. Drew may be the best example from that 2000 squad. At 24 years old, he slugged a then-career-high 18 home runs with an OPS of .880. But his power developed, and he hit 27 the next year and 31 four years later.
Grichuk turned 25 six days ago. He had been sent down to Triple-A Memphis after posting a .694 OPS through the first four months of the season. But he wasn't long for the Minors, and he was recalled less than two weeks later. He's already hit three home runs -- pushing his season total to 15 -- in the seven games since his return, with a .385 average.
"We all know what he's capable of doing," Gyorko said. "He's just got to get a little more consistent. As far as talent or stuff like that, you're not going to find someone with more talent than what he's got. He's just going to keep getting better and better. He's gonna be a guy we rely on going down the stretch here."
Evan Webeck is a reporter for MLB.com based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.