ST. LOUIS -- Desperate to boost production from the first-base position, the Cardinals opened camp in February hopeful that Brandon Moss or Matt Adams would follow with a bounce-back season. What the club has gotten since has been twice as nice.Adams and Moss each homered again on Tuesday, their solo
ST. LOUIS -- Desperate to boost production from the first-base position, the Cardinals opened camp in February hopeful that Brandon Moss or Matt Adams would follow with a bounce-back season. What the club has gotten since has been twice as nice.
Adams and Moss each homered again on Tuesday, their solo shots representing the Cardinals' only scoring off Doug Fister in a 5-2 loss to the Astros. After homering eight times in his first 47 games, Moss has now gone deep in seven of his last 12. Seven of Adams' nine season homers have come since May 1.
The deluge of power production from the pair of left-handed hitting sluggers has left manager Mike Matheny searching for creative ways to keep both involved. It's an enviable problem, of course, as the Cardinals remember well the deficiency they experienced at first base in 2015 when they ranked last in the league with a .392 slugging percentage and .702 OPS.
Moss' versatility allows for a lineup configuration like the one the Cardinals employed on Tuesday. With Fister's drastic splits -- left-handed hitters entered the night with an .876 OPS against him compared to a .532 mark by righties -- Matheny loaded his lineup with lefties. Adams stuck at first, the only position he plays, and Stephen Piscotty shifted to center to make room in right field for Moss, who is 14-for-34 with 10 RBIs in his last eight games.
Though the move weakened the Cardinals defensively, Matheny saw it as an opportunity to prioritize run production over run prevention.
"We keep calling them dangerous hitters, and I think tonight is one of the situations that proves that," Matheny said. "It's going to be a challenge to keep them both in there. If Stephen can continue to play center field, that gives us good options out there. But we know that's not where he's most comfortable. We'll keep trying to find ways to get them both playing time and give them at-bats."
How frequently the Cardinals are willing to shift Piscotty to center will, in part, dictate how often the club can feature Adams and Moss in the same lineup. Periodic days off for Matt Holliday and Piscotty would also open up opportunities to get both on the field at the same time.
That's not always a necessity -- particularly against left-handed pitching -- but it is going to be a luxury. After Tuesday's results, Adams ranks second on the club with a .571 slugging percentage and second with a .940 OPS. Moss' .589 slugging percentage is tops on the team, and his .929 OPS ranks third. He leads the Cardinals with 15 homers.
"If you hit, the at-bats will be there," Moss said. "You can't worry about that. I could see with Matt that he was going to have a good year. With me, it's just one of those things where you try to do what you do, and the at-bats will be whatever they are. But yeah, we can both do a lot of damage when we're in the lineup, and it's good to have us both as left-handed hitters in there."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.