Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams had been in a bit of a slump over his last two weeks of games with his new team.
Coming into Wednesday night's series finale against his former team, the Nationals, Adams had gone hitless in nine at-bats. He started 0-for-27 with the Cardinals until hitting a single last Wednesday. That hit was his first with the Cardinals since May 9, 2017.
He also had not hit a home run since Aug. 4 against the Reds while with the Nationals.
But that all changed in a 7-6 win Wednesday, as Adams launched a pair of homers to go with four RBIs and propel his new team to a much-needed series win as they battle for a postseason berth.
The first shot was a three-run homer in the top of the first. The second came in the fifth and was a solo shot, his 20th of the season, and landed in the second deck of Nats Park in deep right field.
Both were off former teammate Tanner Roark. Did knowing Roark's tendencies help in those at-bats?
"I've always saw the ball well in this ballpark," Adams said. "I think with his pitches, I'm ready for his fastball. He's got a good feel for that two-seamer. Saw the curveball up and saw the changeup up. Tried to put some good swings on it and got the job done."
Cardinals manager Mike Schildt said he was thrilled to see Adams break out of his recent slump in such a big way. Adams' three-run blast propelled the Cards to an early 3-0 lead. The second homer made it 6-0.
"It was very encouraging. I'm glad we got the offense out of it," Schildt said. "First two guys on and guys made him pay for a pitch over the middle and drives it. He's been close. We talked about that a little bit. How his swings have looked and got out there today and got some results from it. And then come back and I think he went upper deck for the solo homer. Really quality swings from Adams."
Nationals manager Davey Martinez agreed that Adams, just like any good hitter, would jump on mistakes, whether it's from Roark or any other pitcher.
"He's a good hitter, but we got the ball up," Martinez said. "We threw a couple: one breaking ball that was up and a changeup that was up. Can't make those mistakes to guys that can hit the ball out the ballpark.
"For us, it's more stay away from the fastball. The changeups are good, but they have to be down; the curveballs are good, but they got to be down."
Adams said he realized in his preparation over the last few days that he was not getting the power he normally generates from his lower half. So he concentrated on finding his strength for his swing from his legs up. And it worked.
"I think the last couple weeks, I've been out of my legs, which has been causing me over rotating my upper body and small little things like that I've really nailed down," Adams said. "For me, it's just keeping it simple. The only thing I try to do is just get more into my legs and kind of the rest took care of that."
So was it weird to be back in D.C. playing for the Cards against the Nats, the team he played with for nearly six months with before being traded back to St. Louis? Adams was with the Cardinals from 2012 to 2017 with a stop in Atlanta last year with the Braves. He hit 18 homers with the Nats this season, which is still tied with Anthony Rendon for second on the club.
"I think it's just part of the game," Adams said. "I think every at-bat matters now for this club, and just to be able to go out and put some good swings on the ball tonight and get some runs across for our pitchers, it meant a lot."
Adams said the upper deck shot was one of his better homers of the season, travelling 411 feet. He compared it to the three-run homer off of Reds pitcher Luis Castillo on March 31, the series that opened the season for the Nats at Great American Ball Park. That one was measured 460 feet. It also came in the top of the first.
"I've had some good ones in this park, but that one probably ... that one and the one in Cincy early on in the year. Those two are probably my longest so far," he said.
Adams also went back to a bat he had had success with and it worked well Wednesday night. He stayed with the bat through every at-bat, hitting two homers and grounding out in two other appearances.
"I got the all-black Rawlings bat and I pulled it out and it felt good," Adams said. "So I taped it up and took it into the game. That's the one I used all game."
Adams said going through an 0-for-27, and then an 0-for-9, he did what he always does to break out: simplify his approach, simplify his swing.
"I think the main thing is keeping with my work and my routine," Adams said. "Just figuring out some posture stuff that was causing me to be off a little bit and getting comfortable with that again. I think everything from here on out (is) just trying to put together good ABs."
Thirteen of Adams' 20 homers this season have come at Nationals Park.
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