The St. Louis Cardinals aren’t stepping into the batter’s box looking to hit a home run.
Matt Adams: “I think if we go up there looking to hit a homer, we will get too big and probably get jammed. We don’t preach going up there and trying to hit the ball out of the park. We are just going out there and trying to barrel balls up.”
Kolten Wong: “Exactly what Matt said. We definitely don’t go up with the home run swing in mind, but we all understand if we barrel up a ball, there is a good chance it is going (out).”
Oscar Taveras (through interpreter): “No, I don’t go to home plate to try to get long balls. I just go there to get a good pitch, make good contact. And thank God for the good result.”
Nevertheless, that trio, plus Matt Carpenter, belted solo homers Sunday night in the Cardinals’ 5-4 Game 2 victory over the San Francisco Giants that squared their NLCS at one game apiece.
The best-of-7 series shifts to AT&T Park in San Francisco for the next three games, starting at 3 p.m. today. John Lackey will start on the mound for the Cardinals, opposed by the Giants’ Tim Hudson.
The Cardinals’ sudden power surge in the postseason comes after they hit fewer home runs (105) than every team in the major leagues except the Kansas City Royals, who also have displayed the long ball in October. The Cardinals had one four-homer game in the span of 162 regular-season games.
Sunday night’s four homers — all to right field and all by left-handed hitters — gave the Cardinals 11 in six postseason games.
Carpenter, the leadoff batter turned slugger, paced the assault. His third-inning blast was his fourth homer in 24 postseason at-bats after hitting eight homers in 595 regular-season at-bats.
The last three homers came in the late innings. Taveras’ pinch-hit blast tied the game 3-3 in the seventh, Adams’ homer gave the Cardinals a 4-3 lead in the eighth, and Wong’s walkoff came after the Giants scored the tying run from second base on a 3-2, two-out wild pitch in the top of the ninth.
“I think it’s the postseason,” Wong said after his second game-winning homer within a week. “You have so much adrenaline, so much excitement going on at this stage ... things are going to happen. That’s the beauty of baseball. Things you never expect to happen happen.”
Wong and Taveras also were teammates at the Caridnals’ Double-A affiliate in Springfield, and Adams’ road to the majors also included a Springfield stint.
“Playing with these guys and knowing they came up the same exact path I did, it is awesome,” Wong said. “It goes to show what the Cardinals do in their draft and how they draft guys. And to play with these guys, it’s always fun.”
Wong hit the fourth walkoff postseason homer in franchise history, joining Ozzie Smith (Game 4 of 1985 NLCS against the Dodgers), Jim Edmonds (Game 6 of 2004 NLCS against the Astros) and David Freese (Game 6 of 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers). The Cardinals went on to win all three of those series.