NEW YORK -- After laboring to score one run over 14 innings in the series opener against the Mets, the Cardinals put together two of their biggest offensive performances of the season to ensure at least a series split. The runaway wins, including a 9-0 victory on Wednesday, also were key in helping a fatigued bullpen reset.
Unable to put together a six-run inning in their first 38 games, the Cardinals have now done so on back-to-back nights. Every starting position player reached base in both games, and both Kolten Wong and Matt Holliday tallied three hits in a game started by six-game winner Bartolo Colon.
"That's us clicking on all cylinders," Wong said afterward.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that the offense came alive at the same time production from the leadoff spot resurfaced. In the nine games preceding Tuesday's win, the Cardinals used six leadoff hitters. The group combined to go 4-for-40 with two walks and two runs scored.
But Peter Bourjos scored twice while batting leadoff on Tuesday. A day later, Wong scored a pair of runs, including the first one, while also driving in two.
"That's definitely a place where I'm not that comfortable, but I'm willing to continue to work to get better," Wong said. "These last couple days, I just told myself I'm going to be the hitter that I am and be aggressive and if I get a strike, I'm swinging."
There was much to like lower down in the order, too. Matt Adams, without an extra-base hit all month, launched a three-run homer to cap a six-run fourth. He added a hit in the eighth, that one coming off a lefty. The two-hit night followed a Monday session with hitting coaches John Mabry and Bill Mueller in which he was reminded to relax.
"I was too tense in the box, and that was causing me to be late on some pitches," Adams said. "I think it was trying to deal with struggling. No one likes to go out there and go 0-for-4 on a nightly basis. You're going to tense up, and you're going to try to do things to get out of it as quick as possible. That's when things get real bad."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny has given Adams days off throughout this funk, but he continued to show faith in the first baseman by keeping him in the middle of the lineup. On Wednesday, Adams hit cleanup.
"Putting him fourth instead of fifth is a message that, 'We believe you're going to be a big part of this offense,'" Matheny said. "I know that as soon as he sees that, that should be a great compliment to him. We put that faith in him, but he still has to have some things go his way to get the confidence going. Today was one of those days, I think."
Jason Heyward, still looking to get on an extended roll, crushed a solo homer and reached three times from the seventh spot in the order.
And then there's Randal Grichuk, who, after striking out five times in the series opener, has tallied five extra-base hits in two nights.