Moss snaps out of funk with big homer

Moss snaps out of funk with big homer

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals manager Mike Matheny followed Brandon Moss up the tunnel after he took him out of Wednesday night's game against the Reds in the seventh inning. He didn't say anything, but he could tell Moss was "wearing it hard" after he struck out to end the seventh inning with runners on second and third.

Matheny left him with his thoughts and out of the lineup Thursday. In Friday's 7-0 victory over the Pirates, Moss proved Matheny made the right decision with a two-run home run in the sixth inning that put the game out of reach.

"It's one of those things where you want to find your swing and do all the right things, but at the end of the day all that matters is the result," Moss said. "I wasn't getting them. It just weighs on you and you really start living and dying by every at-bat. It just felt good tonight to have some good at-bats."

The anger in Moss' swing was apparent, with an exit velocity of 112 mph according to Statcast™. Rightfully so, given he had been mired in a rough 7-for-97 stretch that included 34 strikeouts before the home run. The relief showed when he took a deep breath in the dugout.

"It's been tough for him, there is no doubt about that. It's tough for anybody when you're struggling like that," second baseman Jedd Gyorko said. "Everyone wants to perform here. You want to do well, but he's a guy that's capable of it. It's just going to take one swing, and hopefully tonight is all it is. You can tell his at-bats have been getting better. Hopefully it's just a matter of time, he's too good of a hitter to continue to struggle. I think he's busting out of it."

Matheny has stuck with Moss through the slump, starting him 26 times in 28 games through every flyout, groundout and strikeout. He knows Moss' power gives him the ability to impact a game at any time.

"He puts me in the lineup because he believes in me and he trusts me and it's one of those things where as a player you want to reward that trust and that faith and that confidence," Moss said. "When you're not able to do it, I think that magnifies it a little more too."

Though Moss has hit two home runs during his struggles against the Giants and Cubs, he added Friday's homer felt different because he felt he truly barreled the ball and then drew a walk in his next at-bat.

"Once again, I think you saw a whole dugout celebrate a guy for how much he's meant to our club this year and how great of a season he's had," Mathney said. "This has been a rough go for him. We all felt like, 'Just get that one just to get you going.' Hopefully that will continue. But he needed that, we needed that and it was good all the way around."

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.