Including the playoffs, Matt Adams had hit eight home runs against left-handed pitchers prior to last night's game against LHP Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Six of them came on hard pitches (fastball, sinker, and cutter), and the other two came on curveballs. While technically only one tally can be added to Adams's home runs versus curveballs stat book, this one might as well be bolded, italicized, underlined, or even written in Arial Black. The 26-year-old first baseman was fed a hanging curveball from the game's best active pitcher, and though he did not "get it all," he got "just enough" to deposit the pitch into the Cardinals bullpen for a lead that would not be relinquished by Pat Neshek or Trevor Rosenthal. So, we obviously all saw it with our eyes, but just how bad was the pitch hung?
To be frank, given the pitch type, horizontal movement, and pitch location, Kershaw might as well have put it on a tee for Adams. Over the course of his career, Kershaw's curveball has an average horizontal movement of -2.69 inches (away from lefties; per BrooksBaseball). This one had virtually no horizontal movement whatsoever (+0.53 inches), and it actually backed up into the barrel of Adams's bat (hence, positive movement instead of negative). Coming into last night, Kershaw had yet to allow a home run on his curveball to left-handed hitters in his entire career. Well, that has most definitely changed now. The 512th curveball thrown in his career against lefties was likely his worst, and he won't be forgetting about it anytime soon.
The swing and immediate reaction
On a 20 to 80 scale, I give Adams's celebration a 70 because though it may not be a Yasiel Puig bat flip, the immediacy of putting his hands in the air exudes supreme confidence. If he was able to hold this immediate reaction for slightly longer, it would have been a 75 or an 80, but he became slightly less sure of himself as he watched the trajectory of the ball. Luckily for him, he got just enough because that celebration would have looked awfully goofy had the hit ended up off the outfield wall for an extra-long single.
On a 20 to 80 scale, I give this dance a 30—mainly for effort. Adams cannot make his mind up between two or three celebration types, so the execution was spotty at best. Then again, spotty execution on in-the-moment celebrations makes for some of the best GIFs, as the one we see above.
In all seriousness, the Cardinals have successfully advanced to their fourth straight National League Championship Series (NLCS). As Nationaly League Central champions, they have home-field advantage against the San Francisco Giants in the seven-game series with a spot in the World Series on the line. Prior to that home run, Adams had been struggling in the playoffs. If the team wants to reach its second World Series in as many years, they are going to need to get some more isolated power from Adams's bat. In an ideal world, this home run will lead to the reintroduction of first-half Adams.