NEW YORK -- The overwhelming emotion as David Freese spoke to the media following the Cardinals' 7-6 win on May 17 was relief. He had hit a grand slam that night, snapping a season-long homerless streak. It was his largest -- and one of only a few -- contribution to date in 2013.
Freese emphasized how trying his season had been, adding that he wasn't sure one home run was all he needed to turn a corner on offense. Hindsight, however, would suggest that it did.
Freese also hit safely in the next 19 games he played, amassing a 20-game hitting streak that didn't end until he went 0-for-4 against the Mets at Citi Field on Wednesday. No one in the Majors had a longer streak this season. His season average climbed from .209, the day before the streak started, to .281 after Wednesday's contest.
He drove in 16 runs during the 20-game stretch after collecting just four RBIs in his first 27 games.
"I'm relaxed and real comfortable out there and confident," Freese said. "I feel like my approach is adjusting [at-bat] to [at-bat] real well right now. Obviously, it's a results-based game, but it's just about the process. Right now, balls are falling in."
Pitch selection -- in particular, not swinging at pitches outside the strike zone -- has been particularly noticeable during this uptick in success.
"That's the bottom line," he said. "I think I'm doing a better job of taking walks, waiting for that one pitch to try and hit hard and just simplify it that way."
Matheny has harsh words after incident in LA
NEW YORK -- On Wednesday, one day after three players, two coaches and a manager were ejected following a benches-clearing brawl between the D-backs and the Dodgers, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny expressed his disgust with pitchers throwing high and inside -- too close to the head -- with intent.
Tuesday's melee in Los Angeles was set off when Arizona's Ian Kennedy hitting opposing starter Zack Greinke on the shoulder with a pitch. The incident followed an earlier warning from home-plate umpire Clint Fagan, who had already watched Kennedy hit Yasiel Puig in the face and Greinke retaliate by plunking Miguel Montero in the back.
Although Matheny did not want to make the assumption that Kennedy was aiming at Greinke's head, he did speak generally about his disdain for those who do throw such purposeful pitches.
"I have no problem with guys pitching inside," Matheny said. "The only times I've had issues this year is when I see catchers being very deliberate coming up [in their stance] when they're coming [inside]. I never, never did that in my career. I never once asked our guys to do that. I never will. Coming inside is one thing, but when you start putting targets like that up at guys' heads. … I just don't think there is a room in the game for messing around guys' heads.
"You don't want to see anybody get hurt. You don't want to see anybody get hit in the head. Every time I see a ball sail for or against us, I don't like it. I'm not a fan."
Matheny approached an opposing manager earlier this year to let him know he didn't like how frequently the catcher on that club gave a pitcher a high-and-inside target. That manager, Matheny said, was not receptive to his comments.
"There's a club we have faced a number of times this year that [keeps] emphasizing that they want the catcher standing up behind the guy inside," he said. "That stuff drives me crazy, and I don't think there's any room for it. I really don't. It's not something we do in our organization. Have we missed high? Yeah, and I'm going to tell you again that we have humans, we have men out there who make mistakes, and balls are going to take off. But as far as team philosophy, no way. I don't think it's wrong."
Though Matheny did not name the team he was describing, it is known that the Cardinals have taken exception to the way Cubs catcher Welington Castillo sets up. The Cubs, under manager Dale Sveum, come to St. Louis next week for a four-game series, their first stop at Busch Stadium this season.
• Though Allen Craig admitted to being a bit sore after knocking his head on the right-field wall at Citi Field on Tuesday, he was back in the lineup and at first base on Wednesday.
• Manager Mike Matheny said that the Cardinals have still not decided what roster move they will make once Jake Westbrook comes off the disabled list to start on Friday. Westbrook is taking the rotation spot that had belonged to Tyler Lyons.
• Cardinals Care, along with FOX Sports Midwest and 20th Century FOX Home Entertainment, will dedicate a baseball field for disabled children at 10 a.m. CT on Thursday in Fenton, Mo. Field construction was aided by a $50,000 investment made in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of "The Sandlot."
• Pitchers Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Kelly visited the MLB Fan Cave in New York before Wednesday's game. Shelby Miller had made a visit earlier in the team's stay.
• MLB.com has updated the Cardinals' top 20 prospect rankings, removing Seth Maness (who has been on the Major League roster since late April) and adding left-hander Tim Cooney. Cooney, a third-round pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, has made 12 starts this year -- six at the high Class A level, the other six in Double-A. He has a combined 6-6 record and 3.03 ERA.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.