In arguably one of the most important games of the year, an emotional Aledmys Díaz comes through in the clutch with a heavy heart.
After being blown out by a lowly Cincinnati Reds team on Monday night, it seemed as though Tuesday night’s game was a must win for the St. Louis Cardinals to keep pace in the Wild Card race. Heading into the contest trailing the Giants by one game in the standings, the Cards sent Adam Wainwright to the mound hoping he could pitch well enough to get a win.
It wasn’t pretty, as he gave up two home runs and five total runs in his five and two-thirds innings of work, but he exited the game in line for a win as the Cardinals had an 8-5 lead. In the end, the Cardinals would extend their lead and win the game 12-5. How they scored four of those runs was the story of the game, and something shortstop Aledmys Díaz will never forget.
Earlier this week, baseball tragically lost one of its true superstars in José Fernández, who died in a boating accident off the coast of Miami early Monday morning. Fernandez was on his way to
becoming one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in baseball. Although he had Hall-of-Fame-caliber talent and ability, his play on the field wasn’t what Fernández was best known for by teammates and friends. He was full of joy and life, as he took the mound with an attitude resembling a little league baseball player every time he pitched.
Díaz can attest to that, as he played with José on the same little league team as a child in Cuba.
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In fact, the two grew up right down the road from each other. They became close friends through the game they loved, and remained close through the years as both started their major-league careers.
Earlier this summer, the two got the chance to play on the same team once again, as both were selected to the National League All-Star Team. When asked at the time of the Midsummer Classic what it meant to him to both be there together, Díaz responded, “To both be playing here in the United States and both be playing in the All-Star Game, it’s unbelievable. It’s pretty amazing.” When asked about Díaz and their relationship, Fernández replied, “I play baseball thanks to him and his dad. His dad is the one who told my mom to take me to the baseball field. I love him. I love Aledmys and his family.”
Shortly after hearing of Fernandez’s passing, Díaz left the team to grieve with the family of his childhood friend in Miami. He returned to the Cardinals in St. Louis last night, stating that he will play for José and he will play for José’s family.
In the fourth inning with the Cardinals trailing 2-1, Díaz walked to the plate with the bases loaded and with a heavy heart. On a 2-1 pitch, Aledmys squared up on the ball and lifted it high and deep into the St. Louis sky, clearing the left field wall for his first career grand slam. An emotional Díaz rounded the bases and was embraced at home plate by teammate Yadier Molina. St. Louis fans knew the influence of the situation, not only on the scoreboard, but also the feeling of Fernández’s presence at Busch Stadium in that moment. They cheered for Aledmys to rise out of the dugout for a curtain call, and eventually he would after coming out from the clubhouse, where he escaped to get ahold of his emotions.
"“Every chance I have to put on the uniform, I have to give everything I have today. That’s the legacy that he ( Jose Fernandez ) leaves us.” – Aledmys Diaz"
It was one of the most impactful moments in the MLB this season, as it was full of emotion and love for a fallen friend and former teammate. It was something I myself as a Cardinal fan will never forget.