Mike Matheny the St. Louis Cardinals manager could read the frustration that Matt Carpenter was feeling but did not realize he exuded. That exasperation reached its limit during the Cardinals opener of a series with Pittsburgh Pirates when Carpenter mired in a slump of 4 for 28 struck out three times.
Matheny, believing something did not look right with the Cardinals leadoff hitter, decided to bench Carpenter on Tuesday but then deployed him late in the game that St. Louis made into a laugher.
Down to his team’s last strike, Carpenter came through with a pinch-hit home run that tied the game and then watched as St. Louis stole a 9-7 victory on the road over the Pirates, when Jhonny Peralta and Randal Grichuk added a pair of round trippers behind him during the ninth inning rally.
The home run by Carpenter was a record breaking one. Nine innings after tying a record for the National League by hitting a home run in 25 straight games, St. Louis set a new mark for the Major Leagues with its 15th pinch-hit home run of the season.
Carpenter gave much credit to John Mabry the hitting coach for the success of the Cardinals bench. Carpenter said Mabry made his living off pinch hitting and has given a good solid approach to the young players on the team who end up pinch hitting often and even the veterans who have been here a while.
The approach stuck with the players and they are ready when they get their chance to pinch hit, which has led to the crazy amount of success the team has enjoyed with pinch-hitting.
The home run by Carpenter broke a record set by the Giants in 2001 and the D-Backs the same year for the most pinch-hit homers by one team during the same season.
Carpenter prior to his blast on Tuesday night had never connected on a pitch-hit homer. He becomes the ninth player for the Cardinals to hit a home run as a pinch hitter this year.
Matheny held Carpenter back from earlier spots for pinch-hitting on Tuesday in order for him to be in an optimal situation. Facing Tony Watson who Carpenter was 2 for 17 might not have been the most optimal situation but it ended up to be the best for St. Louis.