3-for-4 showing leads St. Louis' offense in win vs. Pirates
By Jonathan Toye
PITTSBURGH -- There's a new fashion trend going around the Cardinals' clubhouse.
Outfielder Tommy Pham introduced his "Tommy Phamtastic" T-shirts about a year ago, but they have recently witnessed a boost in popularity, with several of his teammates wearing the shirt before Saturday's 4-0 win against the Pirates at PNC Park.
"About 20 [teammates] have a shirt," Pham said. "I am trying to get some more so everyone can get one. They're a hot commodity right now."
And Pham continues to be a hot commodity at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored Saturday. He now has nine hits in his past 14 at-bats, and he has notched three straight multihit games for the first time in his career.
"I am just trying to focus on controlling the strike zone," Pham said, "not getting myself outside the strike zone. That's been the difference. ... I just have to make sure that I am controlling the strike zone and my swing is on time so I give myself the best chance for having success."
Pham wasn't happy with his Spring Training numbers, hitting .209/.320/.279, but he was still confident he could produce at a high level when the regular season began. So far he's delivered, as he is on pace to set career highs in batting average (.311), on-base percentage (.393), slugging percentage (.524) and OPS (.917).
"It was obvious in Spring Training that it wasn't the same guy we've seen for parts of the season last year, and there was some inconsistency there," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Whatever he's found, it's real, because he's covering all kinds of pitches. He's using the whole field, and he's dangerous to all fields. He's just an exciting player to watch right now."
Pham ignited the Cards' offense again on Saturday night. He led off the fourth with a double to right field, then scored the Cardinals' first run on Jedd Gyorko's single to left.
In the next inning, Pirates right-hander Jameson Taillon tossed a 2-0 fastball that landed in the inside corner of the zone. Pham still managed to double down the left-field line to score Carpenter.
"The Pham [pitch] was down and in, but the problem there is it's a hitter's count," Taillon said. "He's trying to gear up and hit a fastball. It's tough to be in that situation against a guy who's really hot coming in."
Pham's red-hot hitting helped pull the Cardinals to within two games of .500 and 6 1/2 games of the division-leading Brewers. His recent success goes back to his mindset at the plate.
"I just want to be a tough out," Pham said. "I don't want to be an out where I feel like they can make a pitch and they can get me out or I chase pitches out of the zone.
"I feel like if I can do that, I can have some success."
Jonathan Toye is a reporter for MLB.com based in Pittsburgh who covered the Cardinals on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.