Piscotty rewards Matheny's faith in big sixth inning
Rookie delivers two-out, two-run double in Friday's win over Rockies
ST. LOUIS -- Having already twice watched Stephen Piscotty end an inning by taking a called third strike with runners in scoring position, bench coach David Bell and manager Mike Matheny looked on as Piscotty headed to the plate with yet another run-scoring opportunity at his fingertips.
What they saw was a picture of poise, a rookie outfielder seemingly unfazed by his earlier inability to come through. Bell turned to Matheny with a bold assertion: "I have all the faith in the world that he's going to come through big on this next one."
Piscotty proceeded to crush a ball off the wall in center, driving home a pair of two-out, sixth-inning runs to give the Cardinals a four-run lead and spark a five-run inning in an eventual 7-0 win over the Rockies.
"The game will find you," Piscotty said afterward. "There's no hiding. Mess up in one situation and it's going to come right up the next turn. I had a feeling it was going to happen and was ready and I'm glad to come through there."
Piscotty's solid early impression led Matheny to bat the rookie second for the first time as part of a new-look lineup shuffled in an effort to generate more offense. Piscotty opened the night hitless in three at-bats and frustrated that he couldn't come through in key spots.
He left Matt Carpenter stranded at second in the second inning. In the fourth, the Rockies intentionally walked Carpenter to face Piscotty with the bases full. He was rung up on a 2-2 cutter that looked to be just off the outside part of the plate.
"After the second strikeout, I remember going out to the outfield and thinking, 'There's two ways to look at this: You can curl up and hide, or you can embrace it as an opportunity to redeem yourself,'" Piscotty said. "That's what I picked. I wanted to come through, and obviously I was fortunate to do that. That was a great chance to show I can bounce back."
He drove the second pitch he saw from Gonzalez Germen to deep center for the third double of his career. It was, without question, the most well-struck ball of the inning and embodied all that Piscotty had hoped would come from the changes he made to his swing last offseason.
"This year I have been kind of tinkering, trying to get a little more loft so those balls get out," he said. "Maybe if I do the same thing I was doing last year, maybe I line it right at the guy. I was fortunate to get just enough under it to get it over his head."
Piscotty has hit safely in each of his first eight starts, one of only six players in franchise history to start his career with such success. He's going to keep getting opportunities, too, as the Cardinals intend to play him frequently in left field. An interest in seeing what Piscotty can do with regular at-bats was one of the reasons why general manager John Mozeliak did not pull the trigger on bringing in another bat before Friday's Trade Deadline.
"One of the things we try not to do is bring a Piscotty up and put him into that yo-yo," Mozeliak said. "Now he's going to get a chance to play. Let's see what he can do."