"We just didn't want to leave anything over the plate," Gonzales said of the approach. "Talking to [catcher] Yadi [Molina], having another young guy at the plate looking to get a base knock and win the ballgame there, we weren't going to leave anything for a strike."
After falling behind in the count, 3-1, Gonzales turned to his trusty changeup. Ahmed swung through two of them to send the game into extra innings. The Cardinals scored immediately after, rewarding Gonzales with his fourth win of the season.
"He's got a lot of faith in his pitches, and he should," Matheny said of the team's No. 1 pick in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. "He knows those are pitches he can throw in just about any count. And just to have that kind of disposition on the mound in a situation like that, I think, says a lot about him."
Gonzales, who has positioned himself for a postseason spot in the bullpen with a strong September return, said afterward that the biggest challenge was staying mentally sharp throughout the duration of the game. By the time he entered, he had fully warmed up three separate times, equating to about three innings worth of pitches.
Matheny had Gonzales throwing early in case Wacha needed to be pulled in the first couple innings.
"It's tough to stay mentally there and to grind with your team and be in every inning, and hopefully be ready when your number is called," Gonzales said. "I think separately I had some adrenaline going three separate times, so it wasn't like a continuous buildup. I had thrown enough to be ready to go into the game each time for sure."
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.