Carpenter hoping homer is start of big things

Carpenter hoping homer is start of big things

CHICAGO -- With one swing and a subsequent trot around the bases on Thursday night, Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter finally felt the result catch up to the process.

Mired in an offensive skid that dates to his early May bout with extreme fatigue, Carpenter connected for a two-run homer that stood as the decisive hit in a 4-3 win over the Royals. It was Carpenter's 10th home run of the season, but just his second over a 50-game stretch in which he's endured a drought of extra-base hits and a batting average that doesn't quite reach the Mendoza line.

While it was the lone hit in an otherwise non-descript offensive night for Carpenter, the Cardinals hope it can become a needed spark.

Carpenter on Cardinals' 4-3 win

"It's starting to come together," Carpenter said. "I have been feeling pretty good the last couple days. Really, since the [All-Star] break, I've felt good. I just haven't had anything to show for it. I hit some balls hard here before we left to go on the road. Hit some balls hard in Chicago. I'm starting to feel better."

Carpenter was in an 0-for-17 slide before delivering a game-winning RBI single on Tuesday, and prior to Thursday's 404-foot homer, according to Statcast™, he had only one extra-base hit this month.

That's why Carpenter, long a results-oriented evaluator, has been forced to change perspective as he tries to glean good from an otherwise tumultuous stretch. After hitting .333/.403/.620 in the 27 games before a forced three-game absence in May, Carpenter now has a season slash line of .256/.357/.418.

The peripherals, though, don't paint such a bleak picture. Carpenter's line drive rate (38 percent) is the highest of his career, and his on-base percentage remains second best on the club.

"There are times where I feel like this has been a good learning experience for me, just going through it," Carpenter said. "You can't dwell on the past. That's something I'm really starting to learn. What's happened has happened. The bad stretches that I've gone through are over. You can't worry about it and fret about it. It's all about the next day. That's something I'm getting better at and trying to stay focused on."

Carpenter described the last two months as having been much more of a mental grind than a physical one.

"I'm not going to make excuses and say I'm tired because I'm not," Carpenter said. "Physically, I feel great. It's just a matter of finding my swing, getting my timing back and feeling confident in the box."

After batting seventh for two games against the White Sox, manager Mike Matheny moved Carpenter back into his customary two-hole on Thursday. It's all part of the team's efforts to help Carpenter find sustained comfort again.

"He has been having better at-bats," Matheny said. "Today, obviously, a pretty good result with the homer. [It was a] good day for him, and hopefully something to build on."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB, like her Facebook page Jenifer Langosch for Cardinals.com and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.