ST. LOUIS — Pinch-hitting has been said to be the most difficult job in baseball, but it agreed with Matt Adams on Tuesday.
Adams drilled a two-run homer against Bronson Arroyo in the sixth inning, giving the St. Louis Cardinals a 2-1 lead in their eventual 5-1 victory over Cincinnati at Busch Stadium.
The left-handed hitter, batting for Lance Lynn with Daniel Descalso on third and one out, pounced on a 1-1 changeup from Bronson Arroyo and deposited it into the Cardinals' bullpen in right.
It was the Cardinals' first pinch-hit homer of the season after they had just one all of last year.
"As the game progresses, you've got to start tracking the ball with your eyes if you're a pinch-hitter," Adams said. "You just try to see the ball and put a good swing on it."
Adams had an idea what to look for from the soft-tossing Arroyo, who retired the first 15 Cardinals before Descalso led off the inning with a double into the right-field corner.
"He was throwing the majority off-speed the whole game," Adams said. "With the tying run on third base, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to get an off-speed pitch sometime during that at-bat."
Adams said connecting with soft stuff isn't his strong suit.
"Typically not because I tend to chase out of the zone," he said. "He left it up in the zone and I was able to get the barrel on it."
Freese gets breather
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Monday that third baseman David Freese, fresh off the disabled list, was healthy enough to play every game. But Freese was out of the lineup Tuesday and was replaced by the versatile Matt Carpenter.
"We knew we were going to get him in one of the next two, knowing that (Wednesday) is a day game, weather permitting," Matheny said. "We knew it would be a tough call for him to both (Tuesday and Wednesday). We like his opportunity tomorrow a little better."
Matheny said the Cardinals' 13-4 loss to Cincinnati on Monday in their home opener was more difficult to swallow than others.
The Reds busted open a 4-4 game by scoring nine runs in the ninth against Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski.
"The politically correct answer is they're all the same," Matheny said. "But the truth of the matter is I've had a lot of trouble shaking that one off last night --until I got here (Tuesday) and got to make out the new lineup and go around and start talking to the guys."
Matheny said he told his wife, Kristin, how he had forgotten how difficult some losses can be to handle.
"You can't help but buy into all the excitement of Opening Day," Matheny said. "Just the passion in the stands and the excitement in here in the dugout. It just didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, and then it got to the ugly side, which compounded what could have been a really good day into a really bad one.
"We didn't show the kind of team that we are, so that's frustrating. It's amazing how much longer you hang on to (losses) as a coach than you do as a player."
Encouraged by Beltran
Right fielder Carlos Beltran is batting Tuesday batting just .200 (5-for-25) with six RBIs, but Matheny said Beltran feels fine.
Still, the Cardinals will look for chances to rest Beltran, who likely won't start in the series finale at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday.
"We're going to kind of look at him and see how things are going today. We'll see how he feels after tonight's game," Matheny said. "(But) I'm real happy with how he's moving, one, and two, the way he's swinging the bat. He's getting a lot of good swings in. Not a lot of results, but he's really squaring the ball up well and he's real close to taking off, in my mind."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.