It’s been an emotional week in St. Louis baseball, and plenty of moments have highlighted the week.
From Aledmys Diaz hitting his first grand slam in honor of the late Jose Fernandez, to Yadier Molina hitting a controversial walk-off double, things couldn’t get more emotional and intense.
Until it did.
On Friday, the Cardinals activated Matt Holliday off of the disabled list. On the same day, Holliday released a tear-jerking statement as it’s most likely that the Cardinals will not pick up his $17 million option for next season, ending his long career with the Cardinals. General manager John Mozeliak allowed Holliday to play in Friday’s game as a farewell present.
Meanwhile, the National League Wild Card race was as hot as ever. Carlos Martinez took the mound for the Cardinals for the last time in the regular season, as they faced off against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Back one game in the Wild Card standings with just three games to play, the phrase “must-win” rang more true than ever in front of a packed Busch Stadium crowd.
Martinez allowed five singles, struck out nine batters, and walked one batter as he won his team-leading (and career high) 16th win of the season.
But the greatest and most emotional moment, however, came in the bottom of the seventh inning. Pinch-hitting for Martinez, Holliday entered the game to a rousing ovation. With an 0-2 count, he took a pitch deep to right field for his 20th home run which sent the entire stadium crazy.
With Holliday’s 20th home run, the Cardinals have six players with at least 20 home runs this season, which ties them with the 1965 and 2003 Atlanta Braves for the National League record.
Once reaching the dugout and hugging his teammates, he stepped out of the dugout for a final curtain call.
It was truly a farewell for the ages.
Thank you, Holliday. For all the memories over the years.
Once a Cardinal. Always a Cardinal.