Holliday road: Slugger heating up in SoCal

Holliday road: Slugger heating up in SoCal

ANAHEIM -- The shift to an American League park for the first time this season presented Cardinals manager Mike Matheny with an opportunity to minimize the wear-and-tear on Matt Holliday by taking him out of the field. The Angels, however, would feel no such reprieve.

Serving as the club's designated hitter in all three games, Holliday capped the series by tying a career high with four hits, including a pair of home runs, in Thursday's 12-10 win over the Angels. The production came two days after Holliday pounced on Angels pitching for three extra-base hits, and his homers in the series finale bookended a stretch in which the Cardinals scored eight times in a 10-batter span against Jered Weaver.

"The swings -- even the balls he's fouling off -- just really nice bat speed," Matheny said of Holliday who joined Lance Berkman (2011), Albert Pujols (2009), Larry Walker (2005), Tino Martinez (2003) and Jim Edmonds (2003) as the only players in franchise history to produce a multi-homer game as a DH.

"He's getting the barrel to the fastball, staying back and driving the ball when he gets into good counts. It's just a real nice approach he has going right now."

Holliday four-hit game

That approach led to a power resurgence for Holliday, who had arrived in Anaheim with one extra-base hit in his previous 34 at-bats. He doubled his season home run total from three to six in a span of nine at-bats and tallied six hits with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph, according to Statcast™. That bunch included two that registered at 109.

It's the sort of offensive output that will help Holliday deflect questions about whether his power is diminishing with age. He entered the season trying to reverse what has been a steady decrease in slugging percentage each of the past five seasons, and he's done that so far.

A year after finishing with the lowest slugging percentage (.410) of his career, Holliday is slugging .534 this season. The last time Holliday finished a season with a slugging percentage that high was 2010, when he had 45 doubles and 28 homers.

"It's fun to help the team win, but it doesn't help me tomorrow," said Holliday, downplaying any long-term significance to one big series in southern California. "Try to hone a good swing, a good path and go out there and compete. It's pretty much a game-to-game challenge. I try to look at it like that. I'm just going to continue to try and grind it out."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. 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.