(BaseballStL) – It’s hard to beat an outstanding pitcher like Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw once, ask around the NL, but the Cardinals have now done it four times in two postseason series, the latest victory coming off the bat of Matt Adams.
Pitching on only three days rest, Kershaw had a one-hitter going through six innings with a two-run lead. Then in the seventh, Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta hit back-to-back singles to start the Cardinals’ rally.
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“He’s a great pitcher. He keeps his composure pretty well out there,” Adams said, denying the admission that Kershaw felt vulnerable, “I was just looking for a pitch in the strike zone I’d be able to drive.”
Down 0-1 to the Dodgers’ lefty, Adams put a hard swing on a curveball that hung over the middle of the plate and it landed inside the Cardinals bullpen. With that one swing, the Redbirds went from being down 2-0 to being up 3-2 in the Game 4 of the NLDS with only six outs left.
“That’s definitely the biggest hit I’ve had in my career. It felt good to help the team out,” Adams said, “I knew I hit it good, but I saw it start to flatten out. Matt [Kemp] was running back hard after it so I was just hoping it got over his head.”
The ball cleared Kemp’s head and 386 feet later, Adams literally jumped for joy as he made his way around the bases much to his teammates' chagrin. Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully described his celebration as, “jumping in the air with sheer delight.”
“Some people are calling it the ‘Big City Leap,’ so maybe we’ll be able to go ahead and patent that. I was just super excited. I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Adams laughed, “I don’t think I touched the ground the whole way around the bases.”
The teammate who might have been most excited over the home run was starter Shelby Miller who said he didn’t see the home run, but he was listening as the crowd shook the stadium with cheers.
“Adams is a hitter that knows what he’s doing at the plate. He put a good swing on a pitch over the middle,” Miller said.
Yet, the home run was Adams’ first postseason extra-base hit since Game 3 of last year’s World Series. The first baseman was candid about his struggles when facing a left-handed pitcher. He began this past season beating the shift, but as the year wore on he hit into the shift more often than not.
“That’s one thing going into this series that we knew that a couple of starters and a lot of guys in the [Dodgers’] bullpen were lefties,” Adams continued, “So I did a lot of working coming up to the series just hitting on the curveball machine down in the cage and just trying to see that ball coming that way a little bit more.”
And some of those struggles continued into the NLDS, as the home run served as only his third hit in four games. But it was the timing of the hit that mattered the most in the situation.
“The mentality is never really giving up,” Adams said, described the atmosphere among the organization. “We got to spring training and they hammered it into us that this organization likes to win and knows that they can win.”
The homer was the seventh by the Cardinals in the NLDS which tops all postseason teams, a far cry from the team with the least amount of home runs (105) in the NL during the regular season.