ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Cardinals are suddenly playing their best baseball of the year as an uncharacteristically slow start to the season. Winning seven of their last eight games, a couple of players have found a boost from their biggest fans.
Starting pitcher Jack Flaherty and outfielder Lars Nootbaar, two key pieces of the recent Cardinals turnaround, made time around their busy schedules to thank their moms for Mother’s Day. Flaherty and Nootbaar have each had a special moment with their mom over the last two Cardinals games, and St. Louis won big-time in both.
Flaherty’s heartfelt moment came one night after Mother’s Day. The 27-year-old bounced back from a few tough starts with seven scoreless innings against the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
After the seventh, Flaherty’s mother Eileen stopped by a gate between the Cardinals dugout and fans, meeting his son with excitement. The two shared a quick conversation and hug, while Flaherty got a kiss on his cap. The Cardinals eventually won 18-1, sparked by a 10-run eighth innning.
Flaherty told media members his mother visiting was a nice surprise. He didn’t know in advance she would be attending Monday’s game, but heard one voice stand out from the crowd later on in his outing. He later found out it was his mom.
The night before, the Cardinals earned their first series sweep of the year against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. ESPN broadcast the game as part of its Sunday Night Baseball coverage, which included a lengthy interview with outfielder Lars Nootbaar.
ESPN broadcaster Eduardo Perez asked Nootbaar to explain what his mom meant to him. “For one, he “She’s everything to me. She’s my rock, she’s my everything, she’s my best friend,” said Nootbaar to Perez.
During the conversation, Nootbaar looked over at a monitor and saw a video of his mom smiling. To his surprise, with a grin, he asked “Is this live right now? Oh my gosh!”
Nootbaar admitted he got emotional seeing his mom during the interview, so much the surprise led to some tears. “He cries a lot,” his mom Kumiko joked, but also thanked Nootbaar for some flowers and the two said “I love you” on air.
ESPN ran this heartfelt clip during Sunday’s baseball game, one in which Nootbaar picked up three hits and scored three runs en route to a 9-1 Cardinals victory to close the weekend.
It seems the Cardinals are taking a page out of the St. Louis Blues playbook. After some early season struggles last year, the Blues invited their mothers on a brief road trip, one that ended with three wins in three games.
The Cardinals continue a seven-game homestand Tuesday.