BALTIMORE -- On a night when the Cardinals' offense feasted against the Orioles, the bottom-third of the order shined especially bright. Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong provided a critical portion of the production in Friday's 11-2 rout.It was an unlikely trio to score seven runs, drive in five
BALTIMORE -- On a night when the Cardinals' offense feasted against the Orioles, the bottom-third of the order shined especially bright. Tommy Pham, Jose Martinez and Paul DeJong provided a critical portion of the production in Friday's 11-2 rout.
It was an unlikely trio to score seven runs, drive in five and connect for a pair of two-run homers. Two of the three opened the season in Triple-A, and the other as a St. Louis bench player, but injuries and ineffectiveness have created chances for each.
"Just a couple of young guys that I don't think the league knows that much about, certainly this other league doesn't," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the Interleague win. "They're doing a nice job with their opportunity."
Summoned for the second time this season because of an injury to Kolten Wong, DeJong led the way with a night that put him in the company of Hall of Famers Bob Gibson and Dizzy Dean. Until Friday, they were the franchise's only nine-hole hitters since at least 1913 to tally three hits, three runs, three RBIs and a home run in a game.
The only difference, of course, was that DeJong didn't throw a pitch.
But he did hit safely in his first three at-bats, and DeJong's fourth-inning homer sparked the start of eight consecutive two-out runs the Cardinals would score on the night. It was his second homer in 47 Major League at-bats. DeJong has 26 total homers over the last calendar year, which includes 13 in 177 Triple-A at-bats this season.
"[My] first month of Double-A last year, I was kind of forcing things," said DeJong, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 Draft. "Then I started to realize I don't have to full-effort [swing] solely for power. Just try to put my ego on the shelf, swing nice and easy and let the power come from the pitcher."
DeJong, who is likely to remain the club's everyday second baseman until Wong's return, found himself on Friday hitting behind a pair of outfielders who have competed for playing time this season. Martinez beat Pham out for a bench spot this spring. Then when Martinez went down with a groin injury in May, Pham moved up on the depth chart.
But with Opening Day left fielder Randal Grichuk toiling in Triple-A, both are continuing to get opportunities.
Three days after his first multi-homer game, Martinez helped initiate a pair of run-scoring innings. His sixth-inning double, which came on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, chased Orioles starter Kevin Gausman from the game and opened the floodgates. The Cardinals scored four two-out runs in the frame.
"Huge," Matheny said afterward. "Jose set the tone right there."
Pham was in the middle of two other rallies, as he singled and scored on DeJong's home run before crushing a two-run blast of his own. Pham's sixth home run of the season sailed a projected 424 feet with an exit velocity of 109.8 mph, according to Statcast™. It, too, came with two outs and secured his 10th multihit game in 33 starts.
"We were just trying to put some good at-bats together -- aggressive, but not too aggressive," Martinez said. "Trying to grind, trying to prove to the team that we belong. It was a good day for us."
Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.