Descalso coming through offensively in Division Series
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HINGTON -- It's a long season, but Cardinals second baseman Daniel Descalso believes that the last three games have been more indicative of his capabilities than the entire tale of the tape in 2012.
The infielder, who has started at second base in each of the first three games of the National League Division Series, hit just .227 during the regular season, with four homers and 26 RBIs in 143 games.
In three NLDS contests, Descalso is batting 3-for-10 with four runs, three RBIs and one homer. He would have had a second homer if not for a great catch by Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth in the sixth inning of Game 1.
"It's been definitely an up-and-down year for me," Descalso said. "Offensively, I didn't have the season I was hoping for. But since July and August, I've really been working with [hitting coach Mark McGwire] and [assistant hitting coach] John Mabry on some adjustments. In the last month, I've started to hit balls hard. Even if, like today, they've been getting caught, my at-bats have been better. It's been encouraging, and it's starting to show some results."
Descalso went 1-for-4 in Game 3 on Wednesday, with a single and a run scored in the second inning and a sacrifice fly in the sixth. In the last two weeks, he's hit .294 over 11 games.
"Danny is a better offensive player than what his 2012 stats tell," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's got a real good idea at the plate, and he's as solid a middle infielder as they come. He's just a good ballplayer in everything. He's getting into a nice rhythm right now, but he's worked really hard. And it's been frustrating at times for him through this season, but he's in a good spot now."
Descalso credits the tutelage of McGwire and Mabry for helping him extend his swing further through the zone and keep his barrel in the zone longer.
"I was cutting my swing off, and I just couldn't hit balls with authority the other way," Descalso said. "Just trying to keep my barrel in the zone longer and get some extension has really helped me. On top of that, [I'm] swinging at better pitches and having a better approach at the plate."
And although defense may be what earned Descalso regular playing time down the stretch, his hitting has helped keep him out there. Along with fellow middle infielder Pete Kozma, who hit a big three-run homer on Wednesday, Descalso has helped add depth to an already powerful lineup.
"You see the guys we have two through six," Descalso said. "And production from me and Pete and [Jon Jay] in the one-hole ... that makes it that much tougher."