Fowler's power surge a pleasant surprise

After homering Sunday, Cards OF four shy of career high

Fowler's power surge a pleasant surprise

BALTIMORE -- With homers in four straight games for the first time in his career, Dexter Fowler finished Sunday with six home runs this month and 13 on the season, matching Matt Carpenter for the team lead. Fowler's overall production has surged as of late, but the power has been a particular surprise given his career numbers.

Fowler entered the season having averaged one home run every 48 at-bats in his career. This year, he's gone deep, on average, once every 18 at-bats. Fowler has already matched his home run total from 2016, and he's four away from tying his career high of 17, set over 690 plate appearances in 2015.

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Fowler's two-run blast in the eighth inning of Sunday's 8-5 loss to the Orioles made him the first Cardinal since Albert Pujols to go deep in four consecutive games. Pujols did so in 2011.

"He seemed to always hit homers against us, so he might as well hit homers for us," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's dangerous from both sides. I think his swing right-handed tends to have a lot of chance for power, but he's really been driving the ball from the left side as well."

With Carpenter and Fowler leading the club in home runs, the Cardinals rank third in the Majors with 24 homers between their Nos. 1 and 2 batters in the order. Only the Cubs (33) and Brewers (31) have more.

Fowler also turned in a defensive gem Sunday, robbing the O's Jonathan Schoop with a leaping catch in center in the fifth inning.

Fowler's leaping grab in center

Lyons continues to offer length
Despite conversation earlier this year about sliding Tyler Lyons into a higher-leverage bullpen role, he remains the club's preferred long reliever, as was evidenced in Saturday's 15-7 loss.

Lyons' work Saturday was valuable for the Cards, as he saved the 'pen from overuse by eating 3 1/3 innings behind Adam Wainwright's abbreviated start. The work (65 pitches) left Lyons unavailable on Sunday, but with an off-day on Monday, he could be ready to go for the team's next game in Philadelphia.

"It was a significant amount of work," Matheny said. "We'll just have to keep an eye on him and see how he feels. We needed him to soak up some innings, and he did a good job keeping us in the game."

Matheny talks Lyons and offense

No matter how many times the Cardinals have discussed altering Lyons' role, the club always seems to come back to deploying him when it needs innings coverage. Whether that's as a long reliever or spot starter, Lyons will likely remain stretched out.

Worth noting
Michael Wacha threw a light side session Sunday as he continues preparing for Wednesday's scheduled start. The Cards have discussed other options for Wacha's rotation spot, given the right-hander's recent run of troubles, but Matheny said that at this point, the club will proceed as planned with Wacha taking the mound.

• After Sunday's game, Matheny will drive to Salem, Va., to spend time with his first grandchild, Ryker James, who was born on Tuesday to Tate and Margaret Matheny. Tate is the oldest of Mike Matheny's five children and is playing for Boston's Class A Advanced affiliate in Salem.

• Left-hander Sean Gilmartin allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings in his organizational debut on Saturday. Gilmartin took the loss as Triple-A Memphis fell, 7-3, to Round Rock. Outfielder Harrison Bader tallied three hits, including his 11th home run of the season.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, 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.