Work in Sports
Will thrills St. Louis
Clark goes from enemy to hero
Even so, the Cardinals love him, too.
Clark's three-run, first-inning homer off Tom Glavine overcame a 2-0 deficit, and the Cardinals went on to batter the Braves 10-4 Thursday, taking a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five NL playoff series.
"The ovation that the fans give you and the warm reception every day, it's pretty amazing," Clark said. "All that does is make you want to play harder and harder and do well for the fans."
With McGwire hurt, St. Louis acquired Clark from Baltimore on July 31, just before the trade deadline.
Clark homered in his first four games after joining the Cardinals, and hit .345 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 51 games. With Baltimore, Clark batted .301 with nine homers and 28 RBIs in 79 games.
On Aug. 4, in his first home game with the Cardinals, Clark homered off Glavine in the Cardinals' 6-4 loss.
"He's a far different hitter right now than he was when we saw him in July in Baltimore," Glavine said. "He's locked in."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has come to expect such feats from Clark.
"You just don't walk up there casually and do what he did," La Russa said. "He was planning to have a great at-bat and he had a great at-bat. To do it in that fashion like he did, and to give us a lead, it jump-started us."
Clark, 36, was booed every at-bat in St. Louis when he was with the San Francisco Giants after he fought Jose Oquendo, now the Cardinals' third-base coach, in 1987. After the trade, Clark got a standing ovation in his first at-bat.
"I've gone from two extremes," Clark said. "It's been pretty special since I've been here."
Clark said the key to the Cardinals' success thus far has been concentrating on the task at hand.
"When we had our hitter's meeting before the first game, we talked about Maddux," he said. "When we had our off-day workout, we talked about Glavine. That's exactly why this team is 2-0 right now, because they're very, very good at separating what they need to do."