A day after becoming the first player in St. Louis Cardinals history to record five hits, two home runs, and score five runs in the same game, Matt Carpenter offered some credit to the preparation that went into his at-bats against Cleveland’s Corey Kluber.
“One thing Mabes and Billy did a really good job of preaching was that this guy doesn’t walk anybody and he strikes a lot of guys out,” explained Carpenter. “How do you counter balance that is you don’t let him get ahead and be ready to go. One thing that we harped on was the illusion of what a ball is. Everything he throws is an illusion of ‘it’s a ball, oh no wait, it’s a strike’ that’s how he masters that strike zone. We were very aware of that and we did a good job of being ready to hit it.”
The aggressiveness against Kluber worked, as the Cleveland starter was knocked out of the game after only 1.2 innings, the shortest start of his career. But there have been other games where the Cardinals aggressiveness at the plate has resulted in fewer runs and a greater number of strikeouts. Is the approach the same?
“I don’t know, it’s just one of those things,” said Carpenter, who didn’t have a specific reason to point out. “Sometimes guys rise to the occasion when the lights are big. You’d rather have it that way than the other way. You’d rather be at your best against the best.”
On a personal level, Carpenter has raised his average over 100 points since the middle of May, to the .259 he enters tonight with. And he has stayed consistent working with the Cardinals hitting coaches, John Mabry and Bill Mueller.
“You certainly use them everyday, but you spend more time in there when you’re not doing well,” said Carpenter. “I use our guys everyday. We game plan with what we’re trying to do against whoever we’re facing that night and then obviously from a mechanical standpoint trying to get your swing where you want it.
“I would say I can speak for most guys, you spend more time with the guys down there when things aren’t going well. Nobody works harder them. Nobody works harder than these players too, so when you combine that, you can spend a lot of time in the cage.”
Of late, Mabry in particular has received a lot of outside criticism as the Cardinals offense struggled. But more than one player in the clubhouse has voiced the blame was misplaced.
“Everything is player-driven,” agreed Carpenter. “At the end of the day, it’s the player’s career so they’ve got to take responsibility upon themselves and those guys are there to help facilitate that.
“Anything you want, anything you need they are at your fingertips ready to put in the work. They also guide you in the right direction, if they see something that doesn’t look right or they have a trend that you’re headed towards that isn’t you, they’re there to point that out.”
A different player described using Mabry as his “eyes”, to have the coach see if how he looked matched with how we was feeling.
“Like I said, at the end of the day it comes down to the player,” said Carpenter. “I look at where we are as an offense and the struggles that we had the first two months–doesn’t fall on the hitting coach, it falls on the players. We’ve got to do a better job. And we have been. You’re starting to see that and then when things start to go well, you have a chance to win a lot of ballgames. That’s kind of what we’re going through.”
During this four-game winning streak, the Cardinals have hit .284 with 7 HRs and 25 RBIs while striking out 36 times to go with 17 walks.
Overall, the Cardinals have hit .276 with 75 HRs, 238 RBIs, 338 strikeouts, and 169 walks in their wins, while just .204 with 27 HRs, 84 RBIs, 345 strikeouts, and 83 walks in their losses.
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