(BaseballStL) — While the All Star selections will wash away much of Sunday’s sting, the Cardinals once again found themselves at a loss for offense.
The scoreboard showed an 8-4 loss but three of those runs came in the last six outs.
Henderson Alvarez ran through the Cardinals for six innings, completely flummoxing every position player but one.
“He just tried to throw that sinker and change up away and he just left them up to me,” Matt Adams said after the game. “I was able to find the holes.”
Adams racked up three hits off Alvarez, beating out a grounder, flaring a single and ripping a ball up the middle. Through the first 18 Cardinal outs, the only other hit came from Seth Maness.
No matter how much they shifted, or where where Alvarez threw the ball, the Marlins could not keep the Cardinal first baseman from reaching.
It’s a fate familiar to nearly every team St. Louis has faced this season, as Adams is hitting .328 despite the creative defensive positioning employed to limit his options. Already possessing raw power, the challenge of adaptation seems to have made Adams a more complete hitter.
“You could say that. I’m just hitting the ball where it’s pitched. They’re continuing to pitch me middle away and I’m just going that way with it,” he said. “I’m not trying to guide it that way, because if I’m guiding it that way it’s going to be a fly ball to left our a foul fly ball to the third baseman.”
Another element to his game that often goes overlooked is his speed. This season, it’s allowed him to beat out ground balls against the shift, stretch singles into doubles and change his options at the plate.
With the power of a cleanup man and the contact of a two-hitter, Adams has quietly compiled one of the most dangerous skill sets at his position. Combine that with his speed, and the shift becomes even more untenable.
“It’s just all about the pitch selection, really,” he said. “I don’t want to chase the ball down, but if the pitcher has me fooled and I know they’re playing that shift with the second baseman back, like I did today I hit the ball on the right side of second base, I know I have to hustle because I have a good shot at beating it out.”
Adams showcased a bit of everything Sunday, picking up his first career four-hit game, scoring, driving in a run on a ground rule double and making another diving stab at first base.
Despite his efforts, the Cards dropped their second in a row, and are now third in the NL Central, a half game behind the Pirates.