ST. LOUIS – Could Tyler O’Neill be on the verge of another September surge? His most recent power display is coming at a critical time for the St. Louis Cardinals.
O’Neill slugged two home runs in Monday’s victory over the Cincinnati Reds, giving him four round-trippers over the last four games, five over the past week and seven in the month of August.
The slugfest has covered quite a bit of distance. Each of O’Neill’s home runs have cleared the fences by a long margin. He’s covered at least 400 feet on each of his last four home runs, including a 423-foot blast of Reds’ starter Chase Anderson on Monday.
Just days before, O’Neill played hero twice against the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves. He drew a bases-loaded, walk-off walk on Saturday evening to cap a Cardinals comeback. The next night, on a national broadcast for Sunday Night Baseball, O’Neill broke a late tie with a three-run blast to deep center field.
“It was pretty cool. Hitting homers is always fun,” said O’Neill after Sunday’s victory. “Big situation, I do my job and enjoy it.”
The recent trend lines up well with a narrative O’Neill powered to last season when he heated up late with 13 home runs in September and October. It’s also a positive development after injuries and early-season inconsistencies limited him to a .233 batting average and five home runs through July.
“We’re counting on him coming and taking some big swings,” said Cardinals manager Oli Marmol after Sunday’s victory.
The hot stretch comes relatively quiet compared to some other power pursuits among O’Neill’s teammates. Albert Pujols is drawing closer to 700 career home runs and the fourth-most of all-time. Meanwhile, Paul Goldschmidt is second in the National League with 33 home runs, keeping him close to a Triple Crown pace.
The Cardinals end August with a three-game series against the Reds, currently holding a 75-54 record and a six-game lead in the NL Central over the Milwaukee Brewers.