Grichuk benefitting from change of approach

Outfielder hits two home runs in Saturday's victory over Phillies

Grichuk benefitting from change of approach

PHILADELPHIA -- Randal Grichuk said he thinks hits are contagious.

If that's true, consider Grichuk patient zero.

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In the Cardinals' 10-1 victory over the Phillies on Saturday, Grichuk ignited the St. Louis offense with a three-run home run with no outs in the top of the sixth inning. The score was tied at the time, but the Grichuk homer set into motion the events that led to Phillies starter Aaron Harang being removed from the game and eventually the Cardinals putting six more runs on the board.

For good measure, Grichuk added a double in the eighth inning and a second home run in the ninth to end his day going 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored. After a strong performance on Friday, Grichuk is 6-for-10 in the series against the Phillies with three home runs, five runs scored, a walk and five RBIs.

To Grichuk, this recent surge in both contact and power stems from a change in approach. This series, the outfielder has made a conscious effort to make better decisions at the plate and attempt to cut down on striking out, something he has already done 21 times in June alone.

"I think it's been, I'm kind of feeling for the ball," Grichuk said. "Strikeouts have been up, so I'm trying to put the ball in play. I've been in between on pitches, chasing, trying to put the ball in play and not really reacting the last couple of games."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is counted among the many in the clubhouse who have noticed the right-hander's change in approach.

"He's had a few strikeouts, but I think the double he got today when he got down to two strikes [shows] he's trusting his hands and not trying to do too much," Matheny said. "When you have that kind of power, sometimes I hear that guys like to put a little more into it, but he doesn't need to."

Both fellow outfielder Jason Heyward and Grichuk himself agreed that Grichuk does not need to try to do too much with the natural power he possesses. That power was evident in his first home run of the game, one he launched into the bullpen in right-center -- a homer projected to land 438 feet away from home plate by Statcast™.

Though it landed in the bullpen, Grichuk said he is unaware of the ball's whereabouts.

In his second year in the big leagues, Grichuk has a lot of time to grow into the natural power he possesses. But if potential is a central indicator of future success, veteran John Lackey said he thinks Grichuk is going to be a tremendous player.

"I played with some pretty good players, and as far as straight power he's pretty high on that list," Lackey said. "If he figures out pitchers and what they're trying to do to him, the sky's the limit."

Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.