Dexter Fowler was oh-so-close to being himself Monday and Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the St. Louis Cardinals new center fielder busted out with his first two home runs of the season and his first curtain call from the home fans.
Fowler tagged bases-empty blasts in the third and fifth innings, both against Gerrit Cole, as the Cardinals subdued the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1. Fowler finished 3-for-4 to lift his average from .143 to .183.
St. Louis won all three games of the series by the same score.
“I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat, for the past few days, pretty good,” the affable Fowler said in a happy Cardinals clubhouse. “I just hadn’t had the results. I’ve been sticking with it.”
Fowler’s first home run came on a 2-1 fastball from Cole. The drive landed in the St. Louis bullpen in right-center and traveled 401 feet.
“I squared it up,” Fowler said. “I didn’t know if I hit it out. I thought it was too low, but I managed to get it out.”
Fowler’s second home run came on an 0-0 fastball. It landed inside the right-field foul pole and was measured at 407 feet.
Fans, numbered at 40,182, beckoned Fowler from the dugout. Fowler obliged.
“I didn’t (expect it),” he said. “It was awesome.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny sensed Monday that Fowler was feeling more comfortable at the plate when he was 0-for-4 and hit two balls hard. On Tuesday, Fowler tripled and walked.
“You could just see it getting closer,” Matheny said. “Just the way he was tracking the ball, even some of his swings and misses you could tell his timing was getting closer. He needed a couple of positive reinforcements to take off, and it doesn’t get much more positive than today.”
Fowler said he wasn’t concerned about his early funk, which he said was caused by a “mechanical” issue.
“I’ve been in ruts before,” he said. “You’ve just got to take it for what it’s worth. If you feel comfortable and you’re just not getting results, some days they will come. Today was the day. Any time you start off slow, you’ve definitely got some work to do.
“I wasn’t seeing the ball real well. I was swinging at pitches I don’t usually swing at. That’s out of my character, and it wasn’t comfortable.”