Low-key P-O grad gets to strut his stuff for Cards

This postseason is a wonderful opportunity for Matt Adams to showcase himself on a big stage to help his career, but that’s the furthest thing from his mind.

“I don’t look at it like that at all,” the Cardinals’ first baseman and pride of Philipsburg-Osceola said after Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Monday. “I just try to keep doing what I’ve done all year.

“I try to go up there and have quality at-bats every time and just play good defense to put the team in the best possible chance to get the ‘W.'”

Adams is finally getting a chance to play every day because the Cardinals’ regular first baseman, Allen Craig, is out with a left foot injury. Adams has always hit during his tenure with St. Louis, but at first he was behind Albert Pujols and now Craig, the best clutch hitter in baseball with an incredible .454 average with runners in scoring position and .448 with RISP and two outs.

Adams has gone 4-for-15 (.267) with one double in four games this series against the Pirates, and he will be in the middle of the order tonight trying to help the Cardinals figure out Gerrit Cole in Game 5. The Bucco rookie held St. Louis to one run on only two hits over six innings in Game 2.

“He had all of his pitches working,” Adams said. “You’ve got to go up there and be ready to hit the fastball but have the offspeed stuff in the back of your mind and ready to hit that as well.”

Adams hit .284 during the regular season with 17 homers and 51 RBIs in 296 at-bats, a little more than half of what an everyday player gets. There’s no question he’s been a valuable member of the Cardinals’ potent offense, and they’re fortunate to have such a capable backup behind Craig.

Other teams in baseball already know what the massive Adams (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) can do, and if he goes on a tear during the postseason it could open up doors for him either in St. Louis or elsewhere.

Craig has not enjoyed much success against the Pirates, hitting only .133 (4-for-30) against them during the regular season. The Bucs employ a major defensive shift on him, with second baseman Neil Walker playing in short right field while third baseman Pedro Alvarez and shortstop Clint Barmes move far to their left.

A couple of other teams also went to the major shift against the dead-pull hitter this year, and Adams says he doesn’t let himself think about the different alignment.

“It messes with people whenever they think about it too much,” he said. “Whenever you get out, you hit it to where you think it would have been a hit normally and the guy is playing there, that’s when it really messes with you. I just keep sticking with my approach, and it will be fine.”

The left side of the infield is generally vacated for Adams, who could bunt for a hit if he chose. He attempted to do that once in Game 4 Monday but fouled it off.

“I rushed it, but I think if I got it down it would have definitely changed the way they played me,” he said.

While most people in this region are rooting for the Pirates tonight, at least some locals will be cheering on Adams hoping he can help the Cardinals get to the World Series. The winner of Game 5 will move on to face the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series.

“It’s real exciting, especially we know we’re going back to St. Louis and playing in front of our fans,” Adams said. “It’s going to be real fun out there.”