ST. LOUIS -- Corey Kluber had never been better than he was three years ago when he dismantled the Cardinals en route to matching the Indians' single-game strikeout record. He made history then. He became witness to some on Tuesday.Matt Carpenter yanked the spotlight off a matchup of aces by
ST. LOUIS -- Corey Kluber had never been better than he was three years ago when he dismantled the Cardinals en route to matching the Indians' single-game strikeout record. He made history then. He became witness to some on Tuesday.
Matt Carpenter yanked the spotlight off a matchup of aces by constructing one of the most unique offensive performances in franchise history. Bookending his night with solo home runs, Carpenter sparked the Cardinals to an 11-2 rout of the Indians while becoming just the 19th player in Major League history to tally five hits, five runs and two homers in a game.
It had never been done before by a Cardinal.
"It leaves me kind of speechless," Carpenter said of his history-making night. "There have been some really good players come through here. You'd think that somebody could put a night together better than that."
Carpenter, one of three Cardinals who faced Kluber in that 18-strikeout game, ensured things would transpire differently this time around when he opened the night with his third leadoff homer in eight days. By the end of the rain-delayed affair, he became the first player this season to notch a five-hit, two-homer game.
The five hits tied a career high, and his five runs scored set one. Only twice previously -- Wally Moon in 1954 and Stan Musial in 1948 -- had a Cardinals player reached both marks in a game. It had been 19 years since a Cardinal (J.D. Drew) last scored five runs in one. The Indians hadn't allowed five hits and five runs in a game since 1962.
"Special," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "To see him not only have a day like that, but to start off how he did against a pitcher like that, we talk about him setting the tone, but that was pretty unique. He was the spark."
And he has been for a while. Carpenter, who sat a triple shy of a cycle when he capped his night with an eighth-inning homer, has buried the frustrations of a slow season start with a stellar month of June. Over his last 20 games, Carpenter has stung eight homers, driven in 15 and scored 22 runs. His average has jumped from .140 to .259 in a less than five weeks.
"I'm trying to make up for lost time now," Carpenter said. "I never really lost faith in how I felt or what I was doing. It can be really concerning to be in a hole like that and feel lost or physically unable to do what you want to do. But I never got there. And mentally I stayed where I needed to be and have turned it around."
His resurgence has helped spark the team's offensive renaissance, as well. While Carpenter offered the rare performance, support came bountifully behind him. It was Jose Martinez's three-run homer that chased Kluber from the game after a career-short 1 2/3 innings. Kolten Wong added to the homer-happy night with his two-run blast in the third.
The deluge of early offense seemed to help settle starter Carlos Martinez, who had been winless since returning from the disabled list three weeks ago. He labored through a 31-pitch first that saw Cleveland jump out to a 2-0 lead, but then resembled a more familiar version of himself while cruising for the next five innings. Martinez struck out eight and limited the Indians to three singles after the opening frame.
"We were hopeful, but that first inning you could tell he was still finding that rhythm," said Matheny, whose club has reeled in four straight victories. "But that rhythm, I think it's visible to everybody when he gets it. When he's like that, he's going to be very successful."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Carpenter may have had the historic night, but Jose Martinez was the one leaving Busch Stadium with a keepsake ball from Tuesday's victory. Martinez's three-run blast bumped his career home run total to 26 -- one more than his father, Carlos Martinez, had during his Major League career. Interesting, too, is that the home run that pushed Jose Martinez past his dad came against the club with which Carlos Martinez hit 15 of his long balls.
Cardinals shortstop Yairo Munoz exited Tuesday's game with a left ankle contusion shortly after fouling a pitch off that ankle during a 14-pitch, third-inning at-bat. X-rays came back negative, Matheny confirmed, and Munoz was seen leaving the clubhouse without a noticeable limp. His status is considered day to day.
With 18 career leadoff homers, Carpenter is closing in on Lou Brock's franchise record of 21. Carpenter also currently leads all National League leadoff hitters with 11 home runs from the top spot in the lineup this season.
HE SAID IT
"Anytime in the at-bat, like, we made some sort of mistake down, he was putting good swings on it. He's not the kind of hitter his numbers say. He's definitely a way better hitter, so we don't take the approach lightly that he's having a down year. We still take the approach that he's the kind of hitter that he is. We just couldn't get him today." -- Indians catcher Yan Gomes, on Carpenter
"I was really focused today, and I knew I needed to compete because who I was facing on the other side of the mound. That made me really focused, because he can throw nasty pitches." -- Carlos Martinez, on facing Kluber
No one in the Cardinals' rotation has been better as of late than rookie Jack Flaherty, who will start the club's series finale against the Indians on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CT. Flaherty carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing and has already notched two 13-strikeout games this season. He'll be opposed by Cleveland's Shane Bieber, who is coming off a start in which he delivered seven scoreless innings.
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.