PITTSBURGH -- The Cardinals have been on a tear recently, and Paul DeJong is starting to keep pace with his teammates after a lengthy dip at the plate. The shortstop entered Wednesday’s 14-8 win over the Pirates with a .636 OPS in June and July, but he left with a historic performance and another jolt of confidence.
DeJong became the 12th Cardinal in franchise history to record a three-homer game as he batted around the Pirates at will on a 4-for-4 night.
“Just barrel it,” DeJong said of his mentality at the plate. “Today was just one of those days where three of them went.”
DeJong hit his first blast to open the scoring for St. Louis in the second inning with a two-run shot into the bullpen off Jordan Lyles. It also kickstarted a nine-run inning for the Cardinals, who have scored at least nine runs in an inning twice in the past week (a 10-run sixth inning vs. the Reds on Friday).
After doubling later in the second, DeJong took Luis Escobar deep with a second two-run home run to stretch the Cardinals’ lead in the fourth inning. He capped his incredible night with a leadoff homer in the eighth inning, which traveled a Statcast-projected 420 feet for his longest one of the game. It came against Jose Osuna, a position player that the Pirates sent to the mound in the seventh inning.
It’s a high point in a season that started hot and quickly turned into a work in progress. Finally, DeJong is beginning to find a rhythm that he couldn’t tap into consistently over the past two months, and it has become apparent he has found it, given nine of his 10 hits over the past seven games have gone for extra bases.
“I feel like over the course of the last couple of months, I was trying to be quiet in my setup, and I actually got too quiet and got tense,” he said. “Today, I was a little bit more active with my hands to start, and that was my rhythm. And you could see the results -- just the way the pitches were all over, the way I could just throw the barrel to it. For me, it’s about having that rhythm, but locked in on him early enough so that I can adjust.”
DeJong’s three-homer day was the second of the season for the Cardinals. Paul Goldschmidt, who also lifted a home run on Wednesday, notched the first one in the Cardinals’ second game of the year on March 29 vs. the Brewers. DeJong also became the first shortstop to accomplish the feat for St. Louis in modern history (since 1900).