If Daniel Descalso is developing into a hitter who delivers the way So Taguchi did with runners in scoring position, he’ll remain a valuable member of the Cardinals.
Descalso this season became the first Cardinals player since Taguchi in 2007 to produce a game-winning RBI in the ninth inning or later in consecutive games, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
On May 23 at San Diego, Descalso’s single to right in the ninth off closer Heath Bell scored Skip Schumaker from second, breaking a 1-1 tie and leading St. Louis to a 3-1 victory over the Padres. Boxscore
The next night, Descalso’s two-out single to center in the 11th off Ernesto Frieri scored Allen Craig from second, snapping a 2-2 tie and lifting the Cardinals to a 3-2 win over San Diego. Boxscore
“I’ve just been trying to stay back and see the ball a little bit better, give myself maybe a split-second longer to make a decision instead of having to rush up there and fly up there,” Descalso told MLB.com. “Just keep trying to keep it simple.”
Descalso is hitting .261 (12-for-46) with runners in scoring position this season.
To put that in perspective, compare that with how Taguchi performed with runners in scoring position during his Cardinals career:
_ 2002: .1000 batting average (2-for-2).
_ 2003: .357 batting average (5-for-14).
_ 2004: .341 batting average (14-for-41).
_ 2005: .407 batting average (37-for-91).
_ 2006: .244 batting average (19-for-78).
_ 2007: .323 batting average (21-for-65).
On June 3, 2007, at Houston, Taguchi entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement in left field. In the 10th, with the score 5-5, one out and the bases empty, Taguchi launched a home run off Dan Wheeler, sparking the Cardinals to an 8-6 victory. Boxscore
After an off-day on June 4, the Cardinals opened a homestand against the Reds on June 5. Again, Taguchi delivered the game-winner.
With the score 3-3 in the ninth and left-hander Jon Coutlangus pitching for Cincinnati, Taguchi, a right-handed batter, pinch-hit for Chris Duncan, a left-handed batter, with one out. Duncan was hitting .214 against left-handers at the time.
On the 10th pitch he saw from Coutlangus, Taguchi singled to right-center, scoring Aaron Miles from third and giving St. Louis a 4-3 victory. Boxscore
“I was a little nervous, but I just tried to have fun with it,” Taguchi told MLB.com.
Reds manager Jerry Narron told the Dayton Daily News he considered issuing intentional walks to Taguchi and Albert Pujols, loading the bases and hoping to induce Jim Edmonds to hit into a double play. Instead, “we thought we’d try to get some strikes and get Taguchi out and then worry about it,” Narron said.
Said Cardinals manager Tony La Russa of Taguchi: “He’s a terrific late-game player. He’s just absolutely cool under pressure and he can make a lot of things happen.”
For more on Daniel Descalso and clutch hitting, see our colleagues at Gas House Graphs