ST. LOUIS — I'm sorry, Tommy Edman.
There have been times where I have been especially hard on Edman this season, mostly due in part to his placing in the outfield over more qualified outfielders. Other times, it was the insistence on him being in the lineup, even if he wasn't hitting particularly well.
It's a good time to apologize, because on Wednesday, in a game that had must-win written all over it, it was Edman who nearly singlehandedly took down Max Scherzer and the Washington Nationals.
While Adam Wainwright offered another gutsy testament to the resistance of Father Time, Edman did a number of things to thwart the hometown kid in Mad Max to help the Nationals win the series.
It started in the second inning, when Scherzer tried to help himself by singling to right field, where Edman charged forward and fired a strike to Yadier Molina to gun down Victor Robles at the plate and erase a potential lead for Washington. The throw was slightly up the line, but strong enough to have Molina waiting to tag the runner out.
The next inning, Edman struck first blood at the plate, hitting a definitive solo home run into the right field stands. In the fourth inning, Edman made a diving grab on a line drive off the bat of Asdrubal Cabrera, a play that would have scored Howie Kendrick from first base and tied the game.
Edman then moved to third base, making a handful of nice putouts to deny hits from the Nationals. In the seventh inning, after the Nationals had trimmed the score to 2-1, Edman singled home Paul DeJong off Scherzer, who struck out 11 Cardinals.
It was essentially the Tommy Edman show.
He collected two RBI hits off one of the best pitchers in the game, threw a runner out at home and saved another run in the field with a catch. He did it all, showcasing the versatile talent that caught the coaching staff's eye in spring training and manifested into a starting role this season when Matt Carpenter dealt with ineffectiveness and injuries while the team yearned for a spark.
It hasn't always sunshine and rainbows for the kid. During a stretch that started on June 28 and extended through the entire July schedule, Edman hit .230 with little power while starting every day. There were stretches where his bat was unreliable and his outfield play left people skeptical and wondering if he was a utility guy or a truly dependable commodity.
The outfield play shouldn't be entirely held against him. Outside of spring training and some play during his youthful years, Edman never competed out there in active play. If the manager pencils you in though, the best effort must be made. Edman did that and has gotten better with each rep, which have been limited lately with Harrison Bader back.
While myself and others lambasted the presence of Edman out there over Randy Arozarena and Lane Thomas, the 24-year-old sixth round draft pick out of Stanford has proven many wrong with his increased array of skill sets. Edman turned around that flat July stretch by hitting .308 in August with seven doubles and is currently slashing .300/.344/.650 in September with five home runs.
He's not collecting hits off scrubs either. On Sunday against premiere closer Josh Hader, Edman cut the deficit down to 7-6 with a ninth inning home run. And there he was on Monday, smashing hits off Stephen Strasburg. Wednesday, he broke Scherzer for a couple timely hits. The Cubs await his wrath this weekend.
While few expected him to break out this year, Edman hasn't just solidified his presence on the roster, but instead constantly makes his case for starting time. With previous regulars like Carpenter and Jose Martinez relegated to reserve status and untested young players like Arozarena waiting in the wings, Edman is taking full advantage of this pennant chase-enriched opportunity.
The story is evolving yet carries a familiar and satisfying theme. He came up, hit a couple home runs, slipped into hitting oblivion for a stretch, but has made a resounding comeback. The 2019 minor leaguer breakout for the Cardinals was unexpected, but isn't that always the way it works out in St. Louis? The one you don't see coming makes a big impact.
I've been hard on Edman this season, doubting his ability and questioning his playing time. Sometimes, you just second guess and overreact to this maddening game of endurance. With one outrageously productive day against a playoff-caliber team and world class pitcher, Edman shut me up.
This "Edman is actually pretty good" crow salad sure is good. I would like to continue eating it. The Tommy Edman heroics continue to impress.