And before the bottom of the first inning, nine other members of the Joplin High baseball team took the field and were met by the Royals' starters at each position for a hat and autographed baseball exchange.
Matt Holliday had some very big pants to fill, and he did them justice.
Wearing a pair of pants that normally belong to Cardinals Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, Holliday delivered one of the biggest hits of his Cardinals career on Saturday night. He drilled a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to send the Redbirds to a desperately needed 5-4 win over the Royals. Holliday's blast traveled 422 feet and lifted the Cardinals a lot farther than that.
Holliday needed Schoendienst's trousers, which he got from the club's equipment manager before the game, because he decided at the last minute to participate in a little slump-busting activity. Several Cardinals wore their pants with the cuffs pulled up high to reveal their socks, in hopes of changing the luck that had seen them lose seven straight coming into the game.
"A couple of our little fellas were doing it, so I decided to join in," Holliday said, taking a playful jab at infielders Skip Schumaker and Ryan Theriot.
"It was actually Red Schoendienst's pants. I figured there were a few hits in Red's pants."
The Cards had fallen behind an inning earlier, when Alex Gordon pummeled Jake Westbrook's 119th pitch for a tiebreaking solo homer. Manager Tony La Russa had elected to stay with Westbrook rather than turn to a fraying bullpen, and the decision backfired on him.Springdale, AR
- Friday night's 15-6 loss to the Naturals officially eliminated the Cardinals from the first half playoff chase, but Springfield still had a chance to play spoiler with a win on Saturday night.
Springfield looked to get back to their winning ways after dropping six of the last seven games including five of six on the current eight-game road trip. Scott Schneider made a spot start in the place of Maikel Cleto who was promoted to St Louis earlier in the day. Against the righty was big league rehabber Kyle Davis making his fourth rehab assignment in the minors after suffering a rotator cuff injury in May.
A pitcher's duel through the first four and a half innings, neither team could amount to much offense as the Cardinals had just two singles while the Naturals managed just three hits against Schneider. In the 5th, Mario Lisson would break the scoreless tie with a solo homer to left, his 11th of the season, to put NW Arkansas in front 1-0.
The Cardinals answered back in a big way in the 6th against Davies as D'Marcus Ingram and Chris Swauger started the inning with singles. After Jermaine Curtis put down a sacrifice bunt advance the runners, surprising three-hole hitter Charlie Cutler laced a triple down the right field line to score both runners to grab their first lead 2-1. Steven Hill followed with an RBI sacrifice fly to put the Cardinals in front by two runs, 3-1.
Scott Schneider began the 6th inning by striking out Wil Myers before giving way to Jose Rada who followed with 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Jorge Rondon retired the side in order in the 8th and allowed a one out walk in the 9th before retire Mario Lisson on a ground ball to second base to convert his third save of the season.
Springfield will conclude their four-game series in Springdale, Arkansas against the NW Arkansas Naturals Sunday night at 6:00pm. The Cardinals will send righty Michael Blazek to the mound against fellow fight hander Zach Miner of the Naturals.