ST. LOUIS — Saturday night was a classic good news, bad news kind of situation for the St. Louis Cardinals.
First, the good news: Tommy Pham’s two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth capped rallies from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to give them a 6-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays that they absolutely needed.
Now, as the late, great Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story: They might have lost their third baseman for a while.
Jedd Gyorko left the game in the eighth with a right hamstring injury that could require a reinforcement from Triple-A Memphis for Sunday’s series finale with Tampa Bay in Busch Stadium.
Rounding third on Kolten Wong’s game-tying single to right, Gyorko was poised to make it a two-run single. Then his leg said no. Gyorko abruptly pulled up and hobbled back to third, then limped right off the field.
“I don’t think anything’s broken, but it doesn’t feel great,” Gyorko said. “We’ll know more tomorrow.”
While Gyorko didn’t divulge much, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny was quick to say the injury didn’t look good. If it puts Gyorko on the 10-day disabled list, it takes away one of the team’s top power threats and one of baseball’s top defenders at third base.
Gyorko is batting .272 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs while saving more runs at his position than anyone except Colorado’s Nolan Arenado, according to one website. It has been a solid follow-up to a career-high 30 homers last year.
Greg Garcia, who has spelled Gyorko all season, figures to get more starts should Gyorko be disabled. Possible call-ups include Aledmys Diaz, Alex Mejia and Patrick Wisdom. Diaz started the year as the Cardinals’ shortstop but has been playing third base at times for Triple-A Memphis, while Mejia, who had a cup of coffee in early July with St. Louis, offers versatility. Wisdom is having the best season of his minor league career, hitting with power.
The Cardinals could have their hands full Sunday against Tampa Bay ace Chris Archer (9-7, 3.76 ERA), who has been at his best lately.
Archer fanned at least 10 hitters for the third straight start Tuesday, when he bagged a 6-5 victory over Toronto at Tropicana Field. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up only one earned run over six innings.
This will be his first career start against the Cardinals. Archer, who has fanned 10 or more hitters nine times this year to tie the team record, will try to score a series victory for a team that needs it after Saturday night’s heartbreaker.
“This stinks. This is a game we had,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
Tampa Bay (64-67) remained three games behind Minnesota for the American League’s second wild-card spot.
As for the Cardinals (65-64), they stayed 4 1/2 games behind the Chicago Cubs for first place in the National League Central and five games behind Colorado for the NL’s second wild-card spot.
They’ll give the ball to Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.17), who hasn’t lost a start since July 4. Lynn had a no-decision in Tuesday night’s 12-4 defeat to San Diego, permitting six hits and four runs over six innings with a walk and four strikeouts.
Lynn started against the Rays three years ago in Busch, losing 3-0 despite yielding only one earned run in 6 1/3 innings.