Carpenter key to Cardinal attack, Matheny expects return to form -

Carpenter key to Cardinal attack, Matheny expects return to form

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By John Bailey By John Bailey

(BaseballStL) -- Matt Carpenter has had a year for the ages. Converting to second base in the offseason, he not only made the All Star team, he batted leadoff for a St. Louis team challenged by injury and inexperience, leading them to an NL Central championship. 

He led the majors in runs and doubles, and tied for most hits at 199. He also broke Stan Musial's six-decade old franchise record for doubles by a lefty. 

Now, perhaps more than ever, the Cards need a boost from Carpenter's bat . 

The 28-year-old has struggled in the postseason, going 1-for-15 in the first four games of the NLDS. 

"What he's guilty of is carrying too much, and feeling like he's got to do something extra special," said Mike Matheny Tuesday. "That's a trap that many young players can fall into."

While Carpenter isn't a rookie, this is his first full service season. He played in seven games in 2011 and spent 2012 as a utility man. 

2013 saw him play in 157 games. 

Of those 157, 93 were wins. In those wins, Carpenter hit .358 with 65 RBIs and 99 runs scored. In the 64 losses, he hit just .252 with 13 RBIs and 27 runs scored. 

There is no doubt he is instrumental to the Cardinal attack. 

Carpenter bats nearly .400 with two outs, hits .388 with runners in scoring position and is 7-for-9 with the bases loaded. 

As the Redbirds move to a do-or-die Game 5, Matheny says his newly-minted All Star second baseman is finally starting to find his comfort zone again. 

"He's getting back to that point. We just need Matt to be Matt," he said. Matheny also said that veterans like Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and even David Freese have talked to Carpenter about not taking so much upon himself in the postseason. 

"He's close. It would be a good time tomorrow for him to start trusting himself," Matheny said. 

Carpenter will face Game 2 starter Gerrit Cole. He was 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout in their first matchup. 


JJ Bailey covers the Cardinals for and the BaseballStL app. Follow him on twitter @TheJJBailey and on @baseballstl_app for updates. 

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