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DeJong finding comfort zone in rookie year

Shortstop goes 3-for-4, hits one of Cards' four homers
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Paul DeJong is going to remember Friday night. Not because the Cardinals lost by a run or because it was his strikeout that officially ended the game.

Instead, the game will stick out in the rookie's memory because he finally had another night where everything came naturally. The rookie shortstop went 3-for-4 and was a triple shy of the cycle in the Cardinals' 6-5 loss to the Mets at Busch Stadium.

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ST. LOUIS -- Paul DeJong is going to remember Friday night. Not because the Cardinals lost by a run or because it was his strikeout that officially ended the game.

Instead, the game will stick out in the rookie's memory because he finally had another night where everything came naturally. The rookie shortstop went 3-for-4 and was a triple shy of the cycle in the Cardinals' 6-5 loss to the Mets at Busch Stadium.

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"I realized when I hit the double that was my best chance to get a triple, because triples are tough to get and I'm usually a doubles guy," DeJong said of his chances of hitting for the cycle. "But really I was just trying to help the team win and keep getting the hits to kind of extend the game at the end there."

After he delivered a pinch-hit double in Thursday's win over the Marlins, DeJong felt comfortable at the plate once again against the Mets.

"It's been an up-and-down year emotionally for me," said DeJong, who is rated the Cardinals' No. 11 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. "Just the adjustments to the big leagues, the lifestyle and all the attention and exposure, but I think I'm starting to settle in a little more."

He is in the midst of a four-game hitting streak after putting together four solid at-bats Friday, including a nine-pitch strikeout in the ninth. Dejong also has been hitting consistently, averaging .283 with 17 RBIs in 34 games.

DeJong said he felt more comfortable than usual against the Mets and compared this game to the one where he first felt at home in the Majors. In the Cardinals' 11-2 victory against the Orioles on June 16, he also went 3-for-4, including a homer and three RBIs.

"That's when I kind of felt like I broke through and showed that I can have a day," DeJong said. "I'm not just clawing to get a hit. ... It just happens naturally, so tonight's definitely one of those nights."

In addition to the 418-foot home run he hit immediately after Randal Grichuk hit one in the third, DeJong continued the strong defensive play he has shown this season, just getting a tag on Jay Bruce at second base in the seventh on a play that was overturned after the Cardinals' challenged a safe call.

Video: NYM@STL: DeJong tags out Bruce after challenge

With seven home runs in 120 at-bats, his offensive production has been somewhat overlooked since his second callup following Kolten Wong's placement on the 10-day disabled list June 15. Since then, DeJong has a hit in 16 of 21 games. Although Wong is due to return after the All-Star break, DeJong is finding a way to leave an impression while he figures everything out.

"You just have to trust in yourself, trust your preparation, your ability that you can play at this level, and I think I've kind of broken through that wall," DeJong said. "It's just about managing every day and coming to the park with the right attitude."

Alaina Getzenberg is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis.

St. Louis Cardinals, Paul DeJong