Stats & Info: Oscar Taveras

Cardinals' show their clout in NLCS Game 2

October, 13, 2014

Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesMatt Adams' eighth-inning blast was one of four Cardinals home runs of historic proportion in Game 2.

To say that the 2014 St. Louis Cardinals were not a home run hitting team during the regular season would be a gross understatement. St. Louis’ 105 home runs ranked last in the National League, and 29th overall in the majors, only ahead of the Kansas City Royals with 95. That was the lowest home runs total by a Cardinals team in the wild-card era, which includes the shortened 1995 season. But few teams have been more adept at hitting home runs in the postseason -- at least so far this October -- than St. Louis.

This postseason the Cardinals are launching one home run every 17 at-bats, which more than three times more frequently than their rate of one home run every 52 at-bats during the regular season.

Matt Carpenter started off Sunday’s long ball barrage with his third-inning blast off of perennial Cardinals postseason victim Jake Peavy. The solo shot was the fourth of this postseason by Carpenter in his 22nd at-bat. He hit eight home runs in 595 at-bats during the regular season.

Carpenter’s four home runs are tied with fellow Missouri third baseman Mike Moustakas for the most this postseason. All four of those came as a leadoff hitter, which ties him with Carl Crawford for third most in any postseason by a leadoff hitter. Crawford hit his for the Dodgers last season. Another Dodger, Davey Lopes hit five home runs from the leadoff spot in 1978, which is one behind Lenny Dykstra’s six leadoff home runs for the 1993 Phillies.

Next to join the home run parade was Oscar Taveras, who became the second-youngest Cardinal to hit a postseason home run by depositing a Jean Machi pitch down around the right-field foul pole. Only 21-year old Albert Pujols, who took Randy Johnson deep in Game 2 of the 2001 National League Division Series, was a greener Redbird than the 22-year-old Taveras.

Taveras was pinch-hitting for reliever Carlos Martinez when he hit the game-tying shot, becoming the first player in Cardinals postseason history with a game-tying or go-ahead pinch-hit home run.

The seventh inning has been disproportionately productive for the Cardinals this postseason. The team has scored 23 total runs, 14 in the stretch inning.

The eighth inning brought more heroics as Matt Adams stepped to the plate against hard-throwing Hunter Strickland. Adams went down 1-2 in the count but ripped Strickland’s offering 394 feet into the sea of red. Adams was the batter who sank Clayton Kershaw with a seventh-inning, three-run shot in the Cardinals’ NLDS Game 4 comeback victory. With that second swing Adams became the first player with two go-ahead homers in the seventh inning or later in a postseason since David Ortiz in 2004, according to Elias Sports Bureau research.

Adams’ home run was the fourth that Strickland has allowed in four postseason appearances. In 50 appearances during the regular season in the minors and majors combined, Strickland allowed three home runs.

But closer Trevor Rosenthal couldn’t hold the lead, surrendering the game-tying run on a wild pitch that allowed pinch runner Matt Duffy to speed around from second base.

However in the bottom of the ninth, Kolten Wong, who until Sunday was best remembered for getting picked off first base to end Game 4 of the 2013 World Series, hit the fourth St. Louis home run of the night, a walk-off job, to even up the series.

Wong became the fourth Cardinal to walk-off with a home run, joining David Freese in the bottom of the 11th inning against the Rangers in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, Jim Edmonds in the 12th inning of Game 6 of the 2004 NLCS against the Astros and Ozzie Smith in the bottom of the ninth off Dodgers closer Tom Niedenfuer in the 1985 NLCS.

Wong also became just the fourth second baseman to end a postseason game with a home run, joining Jeff Kent in the 2004 NLCS for the Astros, Alfonso Soriano in the 2001 ALCS for the Yankees and Bill Mazeroski, who hit one of the most famous home run in baseball history, in Game 7 of the 1961 World Series for the Pirates.

Kernels: A week of firsts

June, 1, 2014
Our weekly roundup of the interesting and unusual finds that It was a week of firsts for rookies and veterans alike.

• On May 22 the list of most career plate appearances without a home run (among active non-pitchers) featured Ben Revere (1,547), Austin Romine (264), and Brock Holt (190).

Romine went deep the next day. On Tuesday, Revere's three-plus seasons of home-run futility finally ended when he launched a 357-footer into the front row in right field. That put Holt on the hook, and he didn't take long. On Saturday he hit a two-run shot that included the game-winning RBI for the Boston Red Sox. (He added four doubles on Sunday, a first for Boston since Victor Martinez did it exactly four years earlier.)

Your new top three in plate appearances without a homer: Kolten Wong (198), Leury Garcia (162), and Luis Jimenez (139).

• As for the most career plate appearances with only one homer, that belongs to San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper with 3,754-- a distinction that earned him his own bobblehead night at AT&T Park earlier this season.

• Aaron Brooks made his first start for the Kansas City Royals. It didn't go quite as well as hoped. The first eight batters all reached, and Brooks left the game after only two outs and seven runs. It wasn't Brooks' debut (he made one prior relief appearance), but he is the second pitcher in the live-ball era to have either of his first two appearances be a seven-run start that lasted less than an inning. Ron Robinson of the Reds did it in 1984, but only one of his runs was earned.

• The Texas Rangers pinch-hit for starter Nick Tepesch in the third inning Saturday. Sent to the plate was Nick Martinez, who is himself a pitcher. Although he had pitched in 10 games, it was his first major-league plate appearance. He grounded out. But in so doing, he became just the fifth pitcher since 1973 (the DH era) to make his batting debut as a pinch hitter, the last being Chris Hatcher of the Marlins (2010). And Martinez was just the second pitcher in franchise history to pinch hit within the first three innings of a game. Claude Osteen batted for starter Don Rudolph exactly half a century earlier-- against the Cleveland Indians on May 31, 1964.

• Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers also made his first-ever pinch-hitting appearance on Tuesday. It was in the 10th inning. He hit a walk-off double to beat the Baltimore Orioles. It was the the first walk-off hit by any pitcher since Randy Keisler of the Reds earned his own victory with a 14th-inning single in 2005. And it was the first one by a pitcher as pinch hitter since another Brewer, Glendon Rusch, blooped a bunt attempt over the second baseman's head (!) on April 19, 2003.

• Newly-called-up Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals homered in his second big-league at-bat Saturday. He's the first major-leaguer this season to homer in his debut, and the first Cardinal since Steven Hill in 2010. Still a couple weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, he's also the youngest Cardinal to do it since outfielder Eddie Morgan in 1936.

• Lance Lynn of the Cardinals, in his 75th career start, finally threw a complete game. He needed 126 pitches to shut out the New York Yankees, but that made him the first Cardinals pitcher to throw any complete game against the Bronx Bombers in regular-season interleague play. Their last complete game against the Yankees was by Bob Gibson in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series, and their last shutout came from Ernie White in 1942.

• Arizona Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter allowed three hits in his first career complete game and shutout on Thursday. All three runners were retired on double plays. Collmenter threw the rare "FM", a shutout in which the pitcher faces the minimum, but which isn't a perfect game because he allowed at least one baserunner. It was the first one in Diamondbacks history; their only other pitcher to face 27 batters in a complete game was Randy Johnson's perfecto in 2004.

Andrew Cashner's one-hitter for the San Diego Padres was the only "FM" last year, and there were none in 2012. Since the start of 2009, there have been six perfect games ... but only four pitchers have faced the minimum and not thrown a perfect game.