Fowler breaks out of rut with two homers

Veteran working his way through mechanical issues sees results

Fowler breaks out of rut with two homers

ST. LOUIS -- The results caught up to the process for Dexter Fowler on Wednesday, as days of grinding through mechanical issues with his swing and enjoying little luck on balls put in play were mostly forgotten with two successive swings.

Fowler became the first player in franchise history to hit two home runs in a game won with two runs scored. Each of his solo shots off Pirates starter Gerrit Cole gave the Cardinals a lead in what finished as a 2-1 victory.  

"I've been in ruts before. You just have to take it for what it's worth," Fowler said. "If you're not comfortable and not getting the results, eventually they will come. And today was the day."

Fowler's rut included a .143/.226/.196 slash line and 16 strikeouts in his first 56 at-bats with his new team. He hadn't gone this deep into a season without a homer since 2011, but there had been signs that positive production was coming.

Fowler on two homers, 2-1 win

The blasts came a day after Fowler reached base twice and ignited the offense with a leadoff triple in another 2-1 victory. He recently revisited the mechanics of his swing to see what was precluding him from picking up pitches as well as he would have liked and made some adjustments with his hand placement as a result.

"His at-bats for the last week or so have been really good," Matt Carpenter said. "You can tell when you're watching another player if they're pressing or when they're feeling good. And the last week, for me, when I watched him take his at-bats, he looked like he's close. He looks like he's any minute going to break out."

Fowler first went deep in the third on a 2-0 fastball from Cole. It traveled 401 feet, according to Statcast™, after coming off his bat with an exit velocity of 103.8 mph. He tattooed Cole's first pitch in the fifth inning 407 feet with an exit velocity of 102.2 mph.

It gave Fowler his fourth career multi-homer game (first since 2013) and a curtain call from the Busch Stadium crowd.

"He's got that unique combination of speed and some barrel," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "There's a reason guys sign big contracts for lots of money. He's done some things. He got a couple pitches that were up and put good swings on them."

Not only were these the first two home runs by Fowler since signing a five-year, $82.5 million contract, but they were also his first two "barrels" -- defined as balls that, based on exit velocity and launch angle, generally leads to a minimum .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage -- of the season. It marked the third time since 2015 that he tallied two barreled balls in the same game.

"The way he's tracking the ball and even some of his swing and misses, you could tell the timing was getting closer," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He needed a couple positive reinforcements to take off, and you can't get much more positive than today."

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.