Cards' lineup bursts at seams with extra effort

Led by Hazelbaker's 4 hits, rookies, veterans alike combine to power 19 knocks, 10 for extra bases

Cards' lineup bursts at seams with extra effort

ST. LOUIS -- After a spring of tepid results and a bevy of strikeouts to mar their Opening Series in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals have suddenly built anticipation that perhaps an offense that has been so labor-intensive in recent years may be defined by a new set of characteristics this season.

The sample size is small, of course, but the results of the last four days at least provide hope of potential. Following a 31-run showing in Atlanta, the Cardinals returned home on Monday and routed the Brewers, 10-1, while tallying more hits (19) than in any previous franchise home opener.

They continue to be sparked by wide-eyed rookies Jeremy Hazelbaker and Aledmys Diaz, but the contributions were indiscriminate. Everyone in the starting lineup except Kolten Wong reached base at least once before the end of the third, and six players finished with multi-hit games.

Hazelbaker's four-hit day

About the only thing the Cardinals' offense didn't do was tag the Brewers with a long ball. Instead, they pounded Milwaukee pitching with eight doubles and two triples.

"What a day all the way through," manager Mike Matheny said. "The way the guys went about their at-bats, everything we needed."

Diaz, who was teammates with Hazelbaker in Double-A last season, capped his first week in the Majors with three hits, including two doubles. He became the first Cardinals rookie to have a two-double game within his first five games. Hazelbaker extended his hitting streak to six games while becoming the 12th player in franchise history to have four hits in one of his first seven games as a Cardinal.

Diaz's RBI double

"That just shows that they have faith in me, confidence in me," Hazelbaker said of his continued inclusion in the lineup. "That's something you can't take for granted. I feel like I'm showing what I can do. They keep putting me out there, and I'm going to keep performing."

Consider some of the other high marks this club, which just last week struck out 37 times while being swept by the Pirates, hit in their home opener:

• The eight doubles were the most by the Cardinals in a game since July 21, 2012, against Chicago.

• They scored 10 or more runs in three straight games for the first time since 1980.

• They tallied 19 hits for the first time since 2013, and just the fourth time in Matheny's managerial tenure.

Grichuk's RBI double

"We know what we've got on the team," said Randal Grichuk, who, in reaching base four times, looks to be finding his footing. "We started a little slow, but obviously, it's a long season. Hits are contagious. When you have guys going up there and taking great at-bats, you feed off it with another good at-bat."

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