Reynolds, bench fueling streaking Cardinals
Veteran hits pinch-hit go-ahead double one day after hitting big grand slam
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals' offseason pursuit of Mark Reynolds, though initiated by the organization's desire to find a right-handed-hitting complement for Matt Adams, also had much to do about changing the complexion of the bench. The club was looking for the pinch-hit threat it has lacked since Adams filled the mold two seasons ago.
As that fit, Reynolds came through again on Tuesday, delivering a tie-breaking, pinch-hit double to help lift the Cardinals to a 7-4 win over Chicago. The hit followed a series-opening performance that saw Reynolds, making his sixth start of the season, spark a come-from-behind win with a grand slam.
"Being able to hit that home run yesterday, and then having another hit that's not a home run helped it out," Reynolds said. "Today, just staying on a slider, that's a rollover pitch for me but I was able to stay on it and hit it to right-center. I felt good at the plate. I just want to bottle what I've been doing lately and keep going."
Reynolds is now 3-for-11 as a pinch-hitter and has driven in a run with each of those hits. He spoke before the season about the challenges of adapting to a part-time role after eight seasons of accruing 400-plus plate appearances. Of his 3,833 previous Major League at-bats, only 38 had come as a pinch-hitter.
Yet the learning curve, Reynolds said, has been reduced by the starting opportunities manager Mike Matheny has found for him.
"I'm figuring it out," Reynolds said. "Mike's doing a great job of getting me some starts here and there and keeping me fresh and seeing some pitches. He's made it easy on me. I kind of have a feeling now of when I'm going to hit off the bench, having myself ready to go."
Despite playing with a four-man bench for 12 games now, the Cardinals have gotten solid production from that group during the team's eight-game winning streak. Tony Cruz, making a rare start in place of Yadier Molina, delivered the game-winning hit in Monday's win. Over the weekend, Pete Kozma and Peter Bourjos came up with key hits in extra-inning victories.
Bourjos, in a fifth-inning pinch-hit spot, took a pitch off his body on Tuesday to help set the stage for Matt Carpenter's game-tying home run. He has scored five runs in his last eight games.
"We knew that when we signed Mark Reynolds, that's a force," Matheny said. "He's taken to that role well. Then you mix in a Peter Bourjos, whose taking good at-bats, plus the speed he brings. We're pretty shallow on the bench right now, but what we have, we're making the most of."