WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s how Paul DeJong explained the game plan the St. Louis Cardinals devised to face Washington’s Joe Ross for the second time in less than a week: “We just wanted, as a group, to stay on the fastball.”
And here’s how Cardinals manager Mike Shildt described his hitters’ successful strategy: “It’s not a rocket science report. It’s not overly earth-shattering.”
No matter how you characterize it, sure did work well.
DeJong hit two of the Cardinals’ five homers, including a grand slam, Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt went deep back-to-back and St. Louis offered Jack Flaherty his usual strong run support in a 12-5 victory Monday night over Ross and the Nationals.
“There’s a lot of ways you can score,” Shildt said. “The homer happened tonight.”
Yes, it did.
Five days after Ross befuddled the Cardinals with a steady set of sinkers and sliders in Washington’s 6-0 win, St. Louis figured it needed to try something different.
The message — in the pregame meeting, during conversations around the batting cage and in dugout chatter — essentially boiled down to: Don’t worry so much about the darting sliders and just focus on the fastballs.
“We were just really disciplined today as a group … not missing the ones we needed to hit,” DeJong said, calling the performance “a validation of what we do.”
He got the offense going by clanging a solo shot off the left-field foul pole in the second inning on a 95 mph sinker for the first run allowed by Ross (1-1) in three games this season after he sat out 2020 because of COVID-19 concerns.
DeJong ended Ross’ evening with another drive to left, this one off a high fastball after Dylan Carlson was walked intentionally to load the bases, making it 10-2 in the fifth.
Edman, who hit a 3-0…