Cardinals pinch-hitter Matt Adams lives up to his 'Big City' nickname
By BEN FREDERICKSON FS Midwest
ST. LOUIS — Matt Adams watched from the top step as Bronson Arroyo wound up, kicked high and threw one perplexing pitch after another.
For five innings, the Cincinnati Reds starter had been untouchable. No, perfect. Fifteen Cardinals walked to the plate. Fifteen returned empty-handed.
"I just watched from the dugout the whole game," the Cardinals pinch-hitter would say later. "He was throwing off speed the majority of the time."
The observation was important. After Daniel Descalso spoiled Arroyo's perfect game with a leadoff double to start the sixth inning, Adams — who made his first plate appearance of the evening when he entered the lineup for starting pitcher Lance Lynn — hammered an Arroyo curveball 403 feet into the Cardinals' bullpen.
The two-run blast was the momentum shift the Cardinals needed to roll to a 5-1 victory over the Reds on Tuesday evening at Busch Stadium.
But it was more than just that.
Adams' bomb was proof the 24-year-old has transferred the power he showed in spring training over to this young season, a sign his inexperience won't keep him from finding success in one of baseball's most-challenging roles.
"My hat is off to him," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after the game. "He's never been in this situation before. He's done a nice job."
"Big City?" David Freese asked when asked about Adams. "Well, he's a big boy that can rake. We had been searching for a nickname for him for a while. At Spring Training, somebody yelled, 'Big City'. I guess it fit. Because the guy can flat-out hit."
And having that kind of power in a pinch-hitter?
"It's huge," Freese said. "Not only to have a guy that can come in and compete and succeed. But somebody with so few at bats in the big leagues. Pinch hitting is one of the toughest things to do, offensively. It looked easy for him tonight. He was facing a really good pitcher, got a pitch to hit, and did what he need to do with it."
What he did was make his third career home run the first pinch-hit home run the Cardinals have had since Lance Berkman did it in May 2012. What he did was create an expectation that pinch-hit home runs might come a little more often now.
"I don't know about necessarily having home runs the rest of the time I'm a pinch-hitter," Adams said. "Just making sure I'm able to get a pitch and able to get the job done is what helps the team — not me hitting home runs."
But the home run he hit Tuesday night certainly seemed well-received.
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