Thursday’s Game Report: Cardinals 3, Reds 1
By Rob Rains
A couple of things had become apparent to Paul DeJong over the course of the last month. The Cardinals’ shortstop knew he was being too patient at the plate, and he knew he was better off not paying any attention to his statistics.
That’s what happens when you hit one home run in a month’s worth of plate appearances – 104 – since May 7 and put together only a .173 average over that stretch. Included was a more recent period, 12 games, in which he had gone 3-of-40, all singles, without an RBI.
DeJong tried to change that with one swing on Thursday, hitting a two-run homer in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Cardinals the win over the Reds at Busch Stadium.
“Personally I needed it and the team needed it,” DeJong said. “I was happy to come through. May was a tough month. It just seemed guys were pitching more on the edges to me and me expanding the zone wasn’t helping either.
“It takes some mental toughness to overcome things like that. Being confident that when it shows up middle-middle I’m ready to swing. Today was good for that for my confidence. … The last at-bat I was sitting middle-middle and it showed up and I put a good swing on it.”
Here is how the game broke down:
At the plate: Matt Carpenter’s RBI single in the third produced the first Cardinals run after Harrison Bader singled and went from first to third on a sacrifice bunt. Carpenter struck out in his other three at-bats and came out of the game after the seventh. Manager Mike Shildt said Carpenter was “under the weather” and was also feeling the effects of fouling two more balls off his leg, something which has happened often in recent games … Yairo Munoz opened the seventh with a pinch-hit single before DeJong hit a 2-2 pitch for his ninth homer. His last homer came on May 18, the only one he had hit in the last month … The Cardinals have won five of their last six games, three of them when they scored three or fewer runs. They have only one other win this season scoring three runs … They were just 1-of-9 with runners in scoring position.
On the mound: Dakota Hudson pitched at least six innings for the fifth time in his last six starts, coming out with one out in the seventh. He allowed the one Reds run on five hits. In seven starts since May 2, Hudson has allowed just 12 earned runs in 41 2/3 innings, an ERA of 2.59 … Hudson recorded 13 groundball outs of the 19 he recorded. He has not allowed a home run in his last 34 innings … Andrew Miller struck out Joey Votto looking in relief of Hudson before John Gant retired all four batters he faced and Jordan Hicks worked a 1-2-3 ninth. Gant is now 5-0 on the season with a 1.10 ERA and Hicks recorded his 12th save.
Key stat: The Cardinals stole four bases for the second time this season and increased their season total to 37, tied with the Brewers for the most stolen bases in the National League. They did not record their 37th stolen base last year until July 21.
Worth noting: Votto was hitless in four at-bats. In 54 games he has played in St. Louis since the start of the 2013 season it’s only the fourth time he has gone 0-of-4 or 0-of-5. His average at Busch over that stretch is .331 … Alex Reyes is set to make a second start for Memphis, on Saturday at Reno.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals play their second series at Wrigley Field beginning on Friday. They will start the same three pitchers they used in the sweep of the Cubs last weekend at home; Miles Mikolas on Friday, Jack Flaherty on Saturday and Adam Wainwright on Sunday. It’s the start of a 10-game road trip that also takes them to Miami and New York.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains