On May 16 Youth Mason Cole Jersey , St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter stood in the batter’s box at Target Field in Minneapolis. The career .275 hitter was batting an embarrassing .140, and St. Louis fans were calling for his benching.
What a difference six weeks make.
Going into Wednesday night’s series finale with the Cleveland Indians at Busch Stadium, Carpenter is now hitting .259. Since the middle of May, Carpenter has collected 53 hits and batted .349. His 16 doubles and 12 homers in that span rank second in the majors, and no hitter can equal his 1.115 OPS over that period, not even Mike Trout.
In Tuesday night’s 11-2 blowout of Cleveland, Carpenter did something no other Cardinal has ever done. He went 5-for-5 with five runs scored and belted a pair of solo homers. That’s a roll call not even Stan Musial or Albert Pujols can answer.
Included in that outburst was a leadoff homer off Indians ace Corey Kluber, a blast that cut a 2-0 deficit in half and restored energy in a dugout that could have gotten down after a quick deficit following a 90-minute rain delay.
“He’s one of the best in the game,” Carpenter said of Kluber. “That’s just an outstanding job by our team. We took a lot of good at-bats. I’m starting to put things together. We play a long, long, long season. I knew I could physically do it.”
A five-run second inning turned flames into an inferno, burning Kluber in the shortest start of his career. It also put the Cardinals (42-36) in position to sweep the American League Central leaders and gave them four straight wins after a stretch of eight losses in 10 games.
St. Louis will send Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.50 ERA) to the mound in search of a sweep on Wednesday. Flaherty is coming off the best start of his young career, tying his career high with 13 strikeouts Friday night in Milwaukee. He took a no-hitter one out into the seventh inning before Jesus Aguilar golfed a breaking ball over the left-center-field wall.
But Flaherty had to settle for a no-decision that night in his team’s eventual 2-1 loss, although the performance may have made him a candidate for National League Rookie of the Year.
“He prepares beyond his years,” Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux told mlb.com. “If you saw him James Bradberry Jersey , you would think he’s been around the block.”
Flaherty has never faced Cleveland.
Flaherty’s resume does read like a grizzled veteran compared to Indians right-hander Shane Bieber (2-0, 2.45), who will make his fourth big league start. Bieber blanked Detroit over seven innings Friday night in a 10-0 victory, allowing just four hits and walking one while fanning nine.
“I was saying before the game that I was excited to watch him pitch, and that’s why,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said to mlb.com. “He pounded the zone with three different pitches. He changed speeds. That was fun to watch.”
Nothing about this series has been fun for the Indians, who in two games have managed just 10 hits, none for extra bases. That’s been a dramatic contrast after outscoring opponents by 54 runs during a seven-game winning streak.
Los Angeles Angels two-way rookie Shohei Ohtani will be re-evaluated within the next three weeks to gauge progress in his recovery from a sprained ligament in his right elbow.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced the slight adjustment to Ohtani’s timeline Monday before his club opened an interleague series against Arizona.
Scioscia also said the Angels are ”very optimistic” about Ohtani’s prognosis. The Japanese star has been simulating swings with a bat in his left hand and participating in strength training and running for the past three to four days. A right-handed pitcher and left-handed batter, he won’t throw for at least two more weeks.
Ohtani is ”doing as much as he can without impacting his elbow,” Scioscia said.
The Angels initially said Ohtani would be re-evaluated within three weeks after his injections of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells. That procedure occurred June 7, one day after the Grade 2 sprain was discovered.
Scioscia said Monday the checkup will happen ”in two to three weeks,” indicating the Angels might not take the next step in Ohtani’s recovery until July.
”We’re not quite there yet,” Scioscia said. ”But I think within the two- or three-week range from now, when he’s evaluated, we’ll certainly have an idea of what you can add to his workload, what he’s able to do. Get an idea where exactly the healing process is Jake Muzzin Jersey , quantify it, and we’ll have an idea.”
Ohtani hasn’t played since June 6, when he left a start after four innings due to another blister on his fingers. The Angels subsequently discovered the strained ligament and took quick steps in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery for their prized rookie.
Scioscia declined to speculate about whether Ohtani could continue his career as a designated hitter if he was unable to pitch for a prolonged period.
”(When) we talk about Shohei, it’s really two different players,” Scioscia said. ”And one does not necessarily impact the other unless he was doing both at the same time, like when he’s pitching and he needed days off to recover and then he could hit.”
Ohtani, who turns 24 next month, is off to an outstanding start in his first stateside season as baseball’s most successful two-way player in decades. He is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the mound, and is batting .289 with six homers and 20 RBIs during 30 starts as a designated hitter.
The Angels have been on the road since Ohtani’s injury was discovered, but they returned to Anaheim on Sunday night to begin their only week at home until July.
”Initially, he was obviously very disappointed (by the injury),” Scioscia said. ”I think that as he’s gone through this first week of therapy, I think he’s come to grips with it and understands exactly what the process will be. The medical staff and Dr. (Steve) Yoon are very optimistic, so we’ll evaluate in two to three weeks, get a better idea.”