Holliday off to scintillating start at plate

Holliday off to scintillating start at plate

Holliday off to scintillating start at plate
HOUSTON -- Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday is in some kind of groove. Holliday leads all Major Leaguers in hitting with a sparkling .433 average.

Andre Ethier of the Los Angeles Dodgers has received much attention for his 24-game hitting streak. But Ethier is only fourth in the National League in batting with a mere .380. Toronto's Jose Bautista leads the American League at a distant .360.

Holliday, batting cleanup, continued to pound away this week in Houston. He went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and a run scored in Thursday's 11-7 win over the Astros, improving to 7-for-12 and reaching base 10 times in 15 plate appearances during the series.

Has Holliday ever started this well?

"I don't know," he said. "Average-wise I had a pretty good start I think in '07. Somebody told me I had quite a few doubles in the first month."

Holliday, playing for the Colorado Rockies in 2007, led the NL in hitting with a .340 average and finished second to Philadelphia's Jimmy Rollins in the MVP voting. The Rockies reached the World Series that year, losing to Boston.

Don't forget that Holliday missed seven games this season because of an appendectomy.

He hit .353 in 63 games for the Cardinals in 2009 after being acquired in a trade in July with Oakland for three Minor Leaguers, including Brett Wallace, now first baseman for the Houston Astros. Holliday batted .312 last year for the Cardinals with 28 homers and 103 RBIs.

"I'm getting pitches to hit and making pretty good contact," he said, acting like a guy who is hitting .280 instead. "Just standard stuff, not chasing bad pitches. When you get a mistake, you're capitalizing on it."

Batting behind All-Star first baseman Albert Pujols and ahead of free agent Lance Berkman should help Holliday see better pitches. Berkman, batting behind Holliday in the No. 5 hole, is hitting almost as well with a .410 average, second in the Majors. He went 4-for-5 with two homers and five RBIs in Thursday's 11-7 win over the Astros.

"It's great," Holliday said of playing with Pujols and Berkman. "They're both tough outs and get on base a lot. It's a team game. We make it tough on pitchers when we're all swinging the bat well. It's fun to be part of a lineup like that."

Holliday didn't believe hitting between Pujols and Berkman provided him with more good pitches to hit.

"I try to discard who's hitting around me and have my own approach," he said. "Look for a ball over the plate that I can handle and put a pretty good swing on it.

"I don't think they try to pitch me [differently] no matter where you're batting. They have scouting reports they try to pitch to. I just try to look for a mistake."

Manager Tony La Russa likes having Holliday in the middle of his lineup.

"It's his ability to hit the ball to all parts of the park," La Russa said. "He works at it, makes adjustments. You check his career, he's had a lot of good years."