MILWAUKEE -- If St. Louis fans were already excited about their high-profile offseason acquisition, now they have to be ecstatic.
In his second game with the Cardinals, Paul Goldschmidt hammered three home runs and drove in five, leading St. Louis to a 9-5 win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Goldschmidt also had a fourth hit, a single in the second, after he just missed would could have been another homer when a soaring blast curled wide of the left-field foul pole and ended up in the third deck at Miller Park.
"There are times when you're going to struggle," Goldschmidt said after the game, trying his best to downplay his performance. "Sometimes you have success. I can't really explain it. I pretty much try to do the same thing every day. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't."
According to Elias, Goldschmidt is the first player in MLB history to hit three home runs in either his first or second game with a team. His outburst came after a disappointing Cardinals debut on Thursday, when he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a walk.
"[Catcher Matt] Wieters was joking that he's the comeback player of the day," Cardinals manager Mike Shildt said. "It was great. He's a presence in the lineup, clearly. Just locked in, got good at-bats and made a really nice play in the field as well. A complete game for Goldy."
The Brewers intentionally walked Goldschmidt in the ninth, denying him a shot at a fourth homer. Needlessly to say, the healthy smattering of Cardinals fans who still dotted the seats at Miller Park didn't approve of the decision by Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.
"I understood it," Shildt said. "But, yeah, I would have loved to see him get a chance [to] get four."
It was the 16th multihomer game in the career of the perennial MVP candidate, and his second three-homer game. Goldschmidt also hit three homers against the Cubs at Wrigley Field on Aug. 3, 2017, when he was a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has always hit well at Miller Park, where he now sports a .427 career average with 11 homers and 26 RBIs in 25 games.
"I'm not sure [why]," Goldschmidt said, when asked why he has had so much success in Milwaukee, now a divisional opponent. "I just try to have good at-bats. I don't really have an answer for you. If the at-bats are good, you can have success. But that can change pretty quickly."
The Cardinals acquired Goldschmidt, who has finished 11th or higher in the National League MVP voting in five of the last six seasons, in an offseason trade with Arizona. St. Louis sent three prospects to the Diamondbacks even though Goldschmidt was entering the last year of his contract.
However, the club signed Goldschmidt to a five-year, $130 million extension during spring training that will keep him in Cardinal red through the 2024 season. It was the first three-homer game by a Cardinal since Matt Carpenter did it last season and just the second of the current decade.
Goldschmidt hit his three home runs off of three different pitchers, sending all three of his bombs high into the second deck in left field.
"Yesterday I had three strikeouts, and today I had three homers," Goldschmidt said. "Just weird. That's baseball. That's what is awesome about this game. There's a lot of failure, then there's good nights like tonight."
Goldschmidt's heroics weren't the only bit of good news from Friday's game for the Redbirds. Righty Alex Reyes made his return to big-league action by throwing a scoreless seventh for St. Louis, needing just 12 pitches to record three outs. Reyes touched 98.6 miles per hour with his fastball, according to Statcast, flashing the electric stuff that has long marked him as one of the game's top pitching prospects.
Reyes was making his first big-league appearance since throwing four innings at Miller Park on May 30 of last season. It was just his second outing since he put up a 1.57 ERA over 12 appearances in 2016. He missed the entire 2017 season after undergoing elbow surgery. After his lone 2018 outing, Reyes sat out the rest of the season because of surgery on a strained lat muscle.
"It was fun just to be out there and go out to the bullpen," Reyes said. "You get the butterflies and all that stuff. It was fun to be out there. I was thrilled to be able to help the team."
With his one inning pitched, Reyes now has 51 for his career. The number is significant because most prospect ranking lists will include any pitcher who has accrued 50 or fewer big-league innings. After years of topping the prospect lists, Reyes, and the Cardinals, can finally focus on what he's doing now, instead of what he might do.
"I'm just happy he's back," Shildt said. "I applaud Alex and what [he's] been able to do, and how he's been able to do it, to go out and let his talent be on display. And clearly he's got it."