NEW YORK -- Of the 25 home runs Paul DeJong hit as a rookie, somewhat strangely, none came in the same game. So, when DeJong clocked the first two of his sophomore campaign in St. Louis' 5-1 win at Citi Field on Sunday, it represented a new milestone for the
NEW YORK -- Of the 25 home runs Paul DeJong hit as a rookie, somewhat strangely, none came in the same game. So, when DeJong clocked the first two of his sophomore campaign in St. Louis' 5-1 win at Citi Field on Sunday, it represented a new milestone for the Cardinals shortstop.
The first multi-homer game of DeJong's short career came at the expense of the Mets, a team he haunted disproportionally last season. Four of DeJong's 25 home runs as a rookie came against New York -- as many as he hit against any club -- in just nine games. He now has six home runs in his last 12 games against the Mets, and two in three career at-bats against lefty Steven Matz, who DeJong homered off again Sunday.
"Looking back at video this morning I got to look at my previous at-bats off Matz last year," DeJong said. "And that gave me some confidence, knowing I had success before."
DeJong turned around a Matz fastball for a solo shot in the second, then pulled a Jacob Rhame slider above the left-field wall's orange home run line in the eighth.
"Big day for Pauly," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He's dangerous. You can tell some of the balls he fouled off, he's right on. Just under a hair. He put some nice passes on them today."
One of the Cardinals' most thoughtful and prepared players, DeJong critically analyzes his swing and often talks of his approach in informed, measured ways. During a postgame interview Sunday, he specifically mentioned the walk he drew against Matz in the fourth as a personal highlight of the first multi-homer game of his career. Plate discipline won't garner the headlines his homers do, but it could prove key to the story of his sophomore season success.
DeJong entered this year motivated to improve the selectivity issues that dampened his otherwise lauded 2017 season. DeJong set the Cardinals' franchise home run record for a rookie shortstop, and finished second in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting. But he did so with one of the game's most lopsided walk-to-strikeout ratios.
That he hit the three-true-outcome jackpot Sunday could hint at growth in that area. Last season, DeJong had 20 games in which he homered and struck out. As for games in which he homered, struck out and walked, that number narrowed to three.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.