Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (46) receives recognition from teammate Tommy Edman after hitting a home run that drove them both in the first inning. (Gregory Bull)
San Diego. – Paul Goldschmidt hit a two-run home run during a four-run first inning, the St. Louis bullpen held strong after starter Kwang Hyun Kim ran into trouble in his playoff debut and the Cardinals ruined the long-awaited return of the San Diego Padres to the playoffs with a 7-4 victory Wednesday in the first game of their National League wild card series.
The Cardinals need one more victory to eliminate the Padres from the postseason for the fourth time since 1996. They swept the Padres in the National League Division Series in 1996 and 2005, and won 3-1 in 2006, which was their last. time San Diego made the postseason. The second game will be on Thursday.
The Cardinals had a chance to catch their breath with two days off before this series began. That came after an overwhelming season finale that saw them play 53 games in 44 days, including 11 doubles, with just two days off. The team had their season suspended for 14 games between late July and mid-August 10 players and eight staff members tested positive for COVID-19 and had to struggle to adjust to the reassigned games.
Right-hander Chris Paddack (0-1) didn't give the Padres the boost they desperately needed after Mike Clevinger and Dinelson Lamet were left off the roster for this series due to injuries sustained in their final starts of the regular season.
Paddack lasted only 2.1 innings and allowed six runs.
After retiring the starting batter, Kolten Wong, Paddack allowed the next five batters to reach base. San Diego native Tommy Edman singled and Goldschmidt homered to left field. Dylan Carlson doubled, Puerto Rican Yadier Molina , 38, hit an RBI single and Paul DeJong doubled before Matt Carpenter hit a sacrifice fly.
Molina finished the game 5-3 with two runs scored and one RBI.
Paddack allowed three straight hits to open the third, including an RBI single by DeJong, before being replaced by Matt Strahm. Carpenter added an RBI single from another to lift his team 6-2.
Paddack allowed eight hits, struck out one and did not walk.
Giovanny Gallegos (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings to score the victory and Alex Reyes got the last four outs to claim the save. Five relievers combined to work 5 1/3 innings, allowing three hits and an undeserved run.
Kim, a 32-year-old rookie, allowed three runs and five hits in 3.2 innings, struck out two and walked two. He signed with the Cardinals after playing 13 seasons with the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), where he won four championships and an MVP award. He made three relief appearances for Korea at Petco Park in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Kim allowed a sacrifice fly by Eric Hosmer in the first, another to Aaron Nola in the second and an RBI single by Tommy Pham in the third.
Nola hit another sacrifice sacrifice fly in the sixth. Fernando Tatis Jr., who reached base twice, scored twice and carried a ball to the warning track in right field, struck out with runners on first and second to end the inning.
Tatis hit the eighth with two on and two out and missed. Rookie Jake Cronenworth had two running errors on the base run.
Dexter Fowler hit an RBI single in the ninth off Trevor Rosenthal, who began his major league career with the Cardinals.
Harrison Bader of St. Louis struck out five times. But the center fielder made a good catch against the fence on a Wil Myers flyby to end the game.