Cards doubling their pleasure more often
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals tallied only eight hits in Sunday's series finale against the Cubs, but they maximized the output by turning most of them into two-baggers.
Before the Cubs recorded an out in the fifth inning of an eventual 4-1 Cardinlas win, St. Louis had already notched a half-dozen doubles. That's the total at which they finished, which was good enough to set a game high for the season. It also marked the most the club has had in a home game since an April 30, 2014, win over the Brewers.
"Just big hits, too," manager Mike Matheny said, emphasizing the timeliness of the extra-base knocks. "All the way around, [I] thought it was a good offensive attack today."
Yadier Molina connected for the first hit of the game when he followed a one-hour, 43-minute rain delay with a two-out double off Cubs starter Jason Hammel in the second inning. Molina would come around to score the game's first run on Xavier Scruggs' RBI single.
Two innings later, successive doubles by Jhonny Peralta and Jason Heyward helped the Cardinals regain the lead. Another double from Molina extended it. Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter then opened the fifth with additional two-base hits, the first of which chased Hammel from the game.
"It's hard to beat a team," Hammel said, "when you have guys trading places at second base all night long."
Though 11th in the National League with 61 home runs, the Cardinals pace the league with 143 doubles through their first 75 games. The flurry of two-base hits is reminiscent of two years ago, when the Cardinals rode a wave of doubles (an NL-most 322) to a division title and World Series appearance.
The extra-base hits have been coming with more frequency lately, too. After hitting 113 doubles over the first 63 games (an average of 1.79 per game), the Cardinals have connected for 30 in their last 12 contests. That's an average of 2.5 per game.
"The doubles are coming," said Peralta, who collected his 1,600th career hit on the night. "Nobody tried to [hit] doubles, but it was working pretty good tonight."
Wong has doubled in four straight games and already has tallied as many extra-base hits (29) this year as he did in all of 2014. Molina has hit doubles in consecutive games for the third time this year, and had two in a game for the first time since April 2014.
Sunday's flurry of doubles also gives the Cardinals five players -- Carpenter, Heyward, Molina, Peralta and Wong -- with at least 15 this season. Carpenter, though he's hit only four in his last 32 games, leads the team with 21.