With five home runs in the first four innings and four runs in the ninth, the Cards salvaged their series finale against the Rockies after being held to one run in each of the first two games.
“Definitely a great start, right?” St. Louis manager Mike Shildt said. “Dexter getting into one. Kolten followed right back. That’s typical of our team, not that we weren’t the last two days. [We] just stayed that way, stayed hungry and kept adding on as the game went, got better as the game went.”
After failing to capitalize against Rockies pitchers in those first two games, the Cardinals pounced on starter Tim Melville and his fastball on Thursday. Fowler, Wong, Ravelo and Marcell Ozuna all launched solo shots, then Harrison Bader tagged on another against reliever Jesus Tinoco in the fourth. It was the first time in franchise history that the batter leading off the first, second, third and fourth innings of a game all homered, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I don’t think we led the whole series,” Fowler said. “It was good to get it started like that. [Melville] wasn’t going to throw me many fastballs. I looked at some video and he throws a lot of sliders, so I thought I’d hit the first one.”
The last time the Cards homered in each of the first four innings was July 27, 2012, when Matt Holliday (first), Yadier Molina (second), Lance Berkman (third), Matt Carpenter (fourth) and Allan Craig (fifth) homered in the first five innings against the Cubs
The Cardinals’ much-needed turnaround in the mid-week series kept them in first place in the National League Central by four games, ahead of the Brewers and Cubs, who are tied for second in the division and the Wild Card race
“It’s big,” said starter Miles Mikolas, who gave up three runs in five innings. “Anytime you lose two games in a row, you don’t want the wheels to fall off or guys getting nervous. The offense, to me, did the job early. Come out swinging, homer, homer, let them know that we’re here to play this game.”
The Cards’ goal now is to continue that offensive production for the final 16 games of the season, which are all against contending teams -- starting with the Brewers on Friday at Busch Stadium and including seven in the final 10 days against the Cubs
“It’s no different than any other test,” Shildt said. “We get the opportunity to play baseball every day. I feel like this group has taken it from the offseason, day one of Spring Training, and every day of the season -- we just show up to play. We compete, and we play our game.
“Everything is what your perspective is. We’re just going to go play. We’re going to be aggressive. We’re going to trust what we’re doing and we’re going to enjoy it.”
While the Cardinals weren’t able to widen their lead in the division race over the last three days, with Thursday’s win, they at least didn’t lose any ground in the standings. At this time of year, that’s what’s most important.
“You never want to get swept,” Fowler said. “At the end of the day, every win, every game, every pitch is important right now. We got a pretty good lead, but at the end of the day, we’ve still got to win games.”