SAN DIEGO (AP) — Kyle Higashioka caught two baserunners stealing and homered in the same inning to help Joe Musgrove and the San Diego Padres beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-2 on Wednesday and avoid a three-game sweep.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Higashioka became the sixth catcher since 1961 to catch multiple runners stealing and hit a home run in the same inning. The others were Sammy Taylor of the Chicago Cubs in 1961, Johnny Romano of the Chicago White Sox in 1966, Ted Simmons of the Cardinals in 1975, Joe Ferguson of the Houston Astros in 1977 and Bengie Molina of the Anaheim Angels in 2000.
“I just try to do what’s presented to me in the moment, so I feel like the throwing out the guys is kind of my job where the homer is a little bit of a bonus,” the backup catcher said. “They both feel good.”
Higashioka was one of five players obtained from the New York Yankees on Dec. 6 for Juan Soto and Trent Grisham. He was making just his second start of the season.
He threw out Brendan Donovan trying to steal second base during a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play in the fourth. After Willson Contreras doubled and Nolan Arenado singled, Higashioka threw out Arenado trying to steal second, which was upheld on review.
The only other time he threw out two baserunners was on July 9, 2022, at Boston while with the Yankees.
“It’s cool,” he said. “Two guys have to go in one inning so you’re never in control of that. It just happened.”
Manager Mike Shildt had pretty much the same reaction: “I don’t know exactly the history behind it but there aren’t many guys who have thrown out two baserunners and homered in the same inning, so that’s pretty cool.”
Musgrove certainly appreciated his catcher’s work.
“It’s huge. As a pitcher I think I lacked a little bit in holding those runners on,” Musgrove said. “Some of them are guys you typically don’t see stealing. You don’t pay attention to them and they take a bag on you quick. Those are momentum-killers. You get a guy on base and your catcher throws them out, it just really kills momentum and it gives me a little bit more fire to go out and now I’m one out away from getting out of that inning. Saved me some pitches.”
Batting with one out in the bottom of the inning, Higashioka took three straight balls to run the count full against left-hander Zack Thompson (0-2) and then drove a 90-mph fastball into the seats in left. It was his first homer since Aug. 29 at Detroit.
Musgrove (1-1) held the Cardinals to one run and five hits in six innings, with seven strikeouts and one walk.
Robert Suarez got a five-out save, his third. Wandy Peralta hit the first two batters in the eighth with pitches and a run scored on second baseman Xander Bogaerts’ throwing error on a potential double-play ball. Suarez came on and walked Contreras before getting Arenado to ground into an inning-ending double play. Suarez allowed two baserunners with one out in the ninth before striking out the final two batters.
The five-out save was significant because previous closer Josh Hader, who signed as a free agent with Houston, was reluctant to pitch multiple innings as well as to pitch three days in a row.
Thompson loaded the bases with two outs in the first and walked Jurickson Profar to bring in San Diego’s first run. Fernando Tatis Jr.’s grounder in the second made it 2-0.
Thompson allowed three runs and five hits in five innings, with five strikeouts and four walks.
Cardinals: RHP Lance Lynn (0-0) is scheduled to start the home opener Thursday against the Miami Marlins and LHP Ryan Weathers (0-1, 6.75).
Padres: Dylan Cease (0-1, 3.86) is scheduled to start Friday at San Francisco.