ST. LOUIS -- For the third time in four games, manager Mike Matheny called for Jon Jay to move Rafael Furcal up 90 feet with a first-inning sacrifice bunt on Thursday. In two of the three instances, including the one on Thursday, Furcal led off the inning with a double. He singled in the other instance.
Perhaps a surprising call given how well Jay has swung the bat as of late, Matheny has remained consistent in making it. He defended the strategy afterward, too.
"It's not necessarily small ball. It's just good baseball," he said. "We keep preaching about situational hitting, and we were all complaining about how we weren't getting guys over. That's a great play. Then you give your third-hole hitter an opportunity to drive in a run. Getting them over one way or another. We're fine with that."
Matt Holliday did not drive Furcal in on Thursday, though David Freese did with two out. It was the second time the Cardinals have scored in an inning where Jay moved Furcal up with a sacrifice.
The Cardinals have now executed six sacrifice bunts this season -- Yadier Molina, Daniel Descalso and Furcal each have one. The runner that advanced has gone on to score three of those six times. The only three instances in which Matheny called for the sacrifice before the sixth inning were the three recent ones involving Jay.
Jay entered Thursday having hit safely in each of his last 11 games, batting .488 during that stretch. He had three three-hit games in the first five games of the homestand. The hitting streak came to an end Thursday, though, as Jay went 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.