SEATTLE -- The Cardinals put together a string of hits and mixed in some damage in their 5-4 win over the Mariners on Thursday afternoon at T-Mobile Park.
It was exactly what Cardinals manager Mike Shildt had wanted out of the team going into the three-game set in Seattle, and it helped St. Louis win the series and inch a game above .500.
Before Wednesday’s game, Shildt -- who was ejected in the fourth inning on Thursday for arguing with home-plate umpire Rob Drake -- talked about wanting the Cardinals to get back to hitting the ball over the wall and into the gaps.
That happened Thursday, when Matt Wieters (solo) and Dexter Fowler (two-run) hit home runs. Then Tommy Edman gave the Cardinals their final lead with a two-run single to the right-field gap in the seventh. Edman also blasted a three-run homer to give the Cardinals the victory on Wednesday in the top of the ninth.
“See the ball in the zone and take that hack at it,” Fowler said. “Guys sit there thinking, ‘Oh, he’s going to throw me this, so I want it in this spot.’ If it’s in the zone, hit it.”
With the series win, the Cardinals began to climb their way out of an offensive hole from June, when they scored just 92 runs, tied for the second-worst in the Majors. They had 26 homers in that span, which ranked 26th.
But the Cardinals are starting to hit again. During the first three games in July, they knocked 28 hits and had seven doubles and six homers.
After going 9-18 in May, the Cardinals decided they needed a different approach at the plate in June because they weren’t getting results. The mentality changed to trying to put the ball in play more and getting on base.
But that approach led to weaker contact. According to Statcast, the Cardinals’ hard-hit percentage (batted balls with a 95-plus mph exit velocity) was 36.2 percent entering June. From June 1 through Tuesday’s game against the Mariners, that moved to 31.5 percent -- which ranked second lowest in the Majors in that time span.
“Our hard-hit contact rate improved [in May] and our results decreased,” Shildt said before Wednesday’s game. “And I felt, like we said, ‘You know what? We’ve got to do something different because we’re not getting the reward.’ We got away from the damage we were doing coming out of Spring Training. We did without reward and lost our way a little bit.”
The difference led to a month that improved in results -- the Cardinals were 13-13 in June -- but was a slump in the offense. The Cardinals needed to get back to what was a club strength.
“We’ve gotten back to doing what we need to do, and that’s putting some damage out there,” Shildt said. “Balls in the gap, balls out of the ballpark. Not selling out for it, but being intentional about looking to drive the baseball and being relaxed and aggressive. Getting a good pitch to hit and hammering it.”