Green light: Diaz goes deep on 3-0 count

Green light: Diaz goes deep on 3-0 count

ST. LOUIS -- Typical baseball logic says not to swing on a 3-0 count with two outs and runners on second and third trailing by three runs in the fifth inning. That's the situation Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz found himself in as he stared down Giants starter Jeff Samardzija.

Diaz decided to test the odds and promised himself he would only swing if he saw a fastball. When one came his way, he connected for a three-run home run off the left-field foul pole to tie the game. It gave the Cardinals the boost they needed, and St. Louis went on to win, 7-4, Saturday.

"It was quick," Diaz said. "I didn't see it hit the foul pole. I just started running and looked at the umpire to say, 'Fair ball.'"

Diaz is the first Cardinal to hit a home run on a 3-0 count since Mark Reynolds against the Marlins on Aug. 15, 2015, and the 12th player to hit a home run on a 3-0 count in the Major Leagues this season.

"He's throwing 98 and he's throwing 94 sinkers and cutters, you're not going to get a lot of pitches to do something with," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Samardzija. "You get into an advantage count, it might be the only pitch you have to deal with."

The ball left Diaz's bat at 107 mph at a 22-degree angle and was projected by Statcast™ to land 426 feet away, but Diaz had some recent trouble finding the barrel leading into Saturday. His home run broke an 0-for-9 streak, and he had four infield hits over a two-day span Monday and Tuesday against the Brewers. Over his last six games, Diaz put 14 balls into play, nine were ground balls and only one qualified as a line drive.

"The last couple games I haven't hit the ball very well," said Diaz, who added that he wasn't changing his approach at the plate.

The perception of a dropoff in Diaz's production comes with the territory of hitting .423 in April with four home runs and 13 RBIs. Diaz hit .267 in May, but he had the same amount of RBIs and only two fewer hits. It still leaves Diaz batting .324.

"We can tell he's a special talent and he just hits the ball hard," Cardinals right fielder Stephen Piscotty said. "It's a disciplined approach and he has done a tremendous job of not letting a bad game or two get in his way."

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.