ST. LOUIS -- It's unlikely that Randal Grichuk will end up receiving strong consideration for the National League Rookie of the Year Award, not in a season when the likes of Kris Bryant and Joc Pederson have ascended to the Majors. An absence of national consideration, however, should not overshadow the local punch he's providing.
Grichuk blasted another homer -- his 11th of the season, and second in as many nights -- and showcased several other facets of his dynamic game in leading the Cardinals to a 4-2 victory over Atlanta on Friday night.
"He has it all," manager Mike Matheny said afterward. "One of the greatest things we like seeing is he's hungry, not just to learn on the mental side, but you see him in there working constantly. He's working on his swing. He's working to stay strong. It's just trying to figure out what kind of routine he's going to have to allow himself to play every day."
Grichuk crushed the first pitch he saw from Braves starter Manny Banuelos and deposited it 421 feet into the left-field stands. The homer was Grichuk's fourth since the All-Star break, and gave him 10 RBIs in those seven games.
"I feel like I get in my head a little too much and that causes me to do stuff at the plate that I don't want to do," said Grichuk, who had back-to-back multi-RBI games for the first time in his career. "I was going up there today wanting to be aggressive in the strike zone. I got two pitches that I thought I could handle, and I swung at them."
With the second one, he laced a single, after which Grichuk showcased his speed with a swipe of second base and a sprint home to score on a two-out single. He also ran down several balls in center to help starter Tim Cooney stay out of trouble.
Grichuk's presence and production has been invaluable to the Cardinals, who used him as a starting left fielder during Matt Holliday's absence and have now made him the team's starting center fielder while Jon Jay nurses a wrist ailment. Grichuk has started at least two games in every spot in the batting order except the No. 3 hole, and has had no recurring issues with his back.
Though the production has been a bit up-and-down -- he did open the month 1-for-21 -- Grichuk boasts better numbers than anyone in the Cardinals' lineup since he came off the disabled list on May 16. In that time, Grichuk leads the club in RBIs (34), home runs (10), doubles (16), triples (six), runs scored (32) and slugging percentage (.566).
"It's all about approach for Randal," Matheny said. "If he has an idea and waits and gets the pitch that he's looking for, he can mis-hit a ball and it's still going to leave the park. He's learning the league. He's learning himself better. ... Just here recently, I think some things are really starting to click for him because you're seeing the consistent at-bats."