ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals may have lost three of four games in their series against the National League Central-leading Brewers -- including Thursday's 6-4 loss -- but they may have received confirmation that their team's offensive catalyst is heading in the right direction.Since moving back into the leadoff role,
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals may have lost three of four games in their series against the National League Central-leading Brewers -- including Thursday's 6-4 loss -- but they may have received confirmation that their team's offensive catalyst is heading in the right direction.
Since moving back into the leadoff role, first baseman Matt Carpenter has returned to being one of the team's top offensive threats, and has provided a necessary spark to the Cardinals' offense.
After batting second behind William Fowler early in the season, Carpenter moved into the leadoff spot on June 7, a day off for Fowler, However, the move became permanent after Carpenter homered in the game, ending a stretch of 57 at-bats without an extra-base hit.
Carpenter, a three-time All-Star, insists that his improvement is not solely due to the new role, but instead that he was trending upward before the move.
"I was starting to swing the bat better the last couple days before they made the switch. It ended up just being a day that Dexter got the day off, and I was up there and put it all together," Carpenter said. "I'm starting to see the ball better, but I don't think it's based off where I'm hitting. But it's going well for us."
Entering June, Carpenter was hitting .221 and was trending downward, with only two hits in his first five games of the month.
But since June 7, Carpenter has a nine-game hitting streak. He has collected an extra-base hit in eight of them, including doubling in six straight. He was 8-for-15 in the four-game series with the Brewers.
Carpenter was batting .209 entering June 7, but has raised his average to .244.
Carpenter and Fowler have appeared to ignite the Cardinals' offense, as they have scored five or more runs in five straight games. On Thursday, Carpenter collected two hits, while Fowler had two hits and two RBIs, including a solo homer.
"I see a lot of positive things going on with the offense right now … I mean, how many hard outs did we have today? We're smoking the ball all over the place, so you see guys getting into a better spot," manager Mike Matheny said. "I think it could have ended up easily with a lot more runs than we had. I like the rhythm that I see our offense getting into now, and certainly Carp and Dex being the one-two punch. I mean, the way they are swinging the bat sets a nice tone, but I see everyone doing their part, too, and I see the offense going in the direction we need it to."
Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.