MLB firsts for Mejia set up Cards' victory

MLB firsts for Mejia set up Cards' victory

ST. LOUIS -- On a night when the Busch Stadium scoreboard twice erred in identifying him, Alex Mejia did his best to speed up his introduction to a fanbase that should no longer know so little about an infielder who made his Major League debut earlier this week.

Drawing his second start since his unexpected callup, Mejia laced an RBI single and crushed an eighth-inning home run to account for all the Cardinals' scoring in a 2-1 victory over the Nationals on Saturday. Both were career firsts for a 26-year-old whose arrival completed a five-year climb through the system.

"What a day. What a day," manager Mike Matheny said. "He looked good defensively, too. [He's] the kind of player we've always bounced around. Next thing you know, he could be able to help us out, and help us out he did in a big way."

Mejia's diving stop in outfield

His name will ring familiar in St. Louis now, though that may not have been the case just hours earlier, when he was still 0-for-3 as a big leaguer. During pregame introductions, a photo of Greg Garcia flashed on the scoreboard when Mejia's name was announced. Later, during a mid-inning break, guess-the-player-number promotion, Mejia's jersey was displayed with his name spelled incorrectly.

By the end of the night, however, he was being nudged out of the dugout for a curtain call and greeting a fan who graciously handed over the home run ball he caught so Mejia could send it back home to his parents.

"Obviously, you want to get your first hit, your first RBI, all of those things," Mejia said. "But I don't think it would have felt the same if we had lost that game. It was nice that [the first hit] was also an RBI to help the team out."

Mejia's RBI single

That run-scoring single was one of two hits allowed in Gio Gonzalez's seven-inning start for Washington. It came on a 3-2 fastball that Mejia slapped up the middle to score Luke Voit from second.

Mejia grounded out in his next at-bat before crushing the first pitch reliever Sammy Solis threw in the eighth a Statcast-estimated 390 feet. The solo homer pushed the Cardinals ahead, 2-0. Mejia arrived in the Majors having gone deep three times in 262 Minor League at-bats this year.

"Had it not been for Mejia, [Gonzalez] would've thrown a shutout," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "It was Mejia's night. It was a night for youth."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.