St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Randal Grichuk came up with a big hit Tuesday to give Redbirds rooters some hope that the team has finally added a righthanded bat with some pop to their mix.
Grichuk lined a game-tying hit to centerfield in the seventh inning with two outs. But the Cardinals, victimized by a steady diet of lefty pitchers thanks to their overwhelming lefthanded batting order, were able to generate little other offense and, eventually lost the game 5-2.
The Cardinals have been vulnerable to lefty hurlers over the past several years. But it's worse now than ever with starters Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong, Oscar Taveras and AJ Pierzynski starting regularly.
Sure, Jay has done well against lefties this year. But, as a team, the Birds have not. It's a no-brainer for opposing managers to go to the bullpen for a lefty at a key point in a game because it's no surprise if three of four guys in a row bat from the left side of the plate.
Grichuk struggled in St. Louis with irregular use the last time he was up in the big leagues, batting only .136 with one homer. He then struggled to regain his stroke in Class AAA Memphis after being sent back, seeing his batting average tumble from well over .300 to .259 for the season.
But he's still a threat with 25 homers this year at the top level of the minor leagues. And there was plenty of room for encouragement after a focused at bat Tuesday in which he hung in and found a pitch that he could drive. Grichuk didn't over-react and try to hit the ball seven miles. He reacted to the pitch he got and didn't try to do too much with it.
I still think that Grichuk, a righty power hitter who can play all three outfield spots, was the key player of the trade that also brought Peter Bourjos to St. Louis in exchange for 2011 World Series hero David Freese and reliever Fernando Salas.
The Cardinals need a righty hitter with power to balance their lineup for the rest season and beyond after losing Allen Craig's production following his late 2013 injury and eventual trade. It will be an interesting audition to see if Grichuk can convince the Redbirds over the rest of this season that he could stick at the majors next year, possibly as part of an outfield platoon in centerfield or if the Cardinals will have to make a trade for someone to hit righthanded on a daily basis.