STL 3 MIN 2: Wainwright nearly perfect in first start in over a year

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – Adam Wainwright was strong in his first start since undergoing Tommy John Surgery last spring as the St. Louis Cardinals held on to beat the Minnesota Twins 3-2 Friday afternoon at Hammond Stadium

Wainwright threw 30 pitches, 15 for strikes, in his first start in over 530 days. He had a pair of strikeouts and a walk over two scoreless innings of work.

“It was business as usual really,” Wainwright told Derrick Goold after the game. “I felt completely just like my old self out there, to be honest with you… I feel like today was the next step.”

As for how he approached his first start in over a year, the Cardinals ace said he had a plan of attack, but admitted that he did not stick with it.

“I visualized every pitch before I got out there today,” Wainwright said. “I kind of had a plan for how I wanted to go about things. I really executed pretty well for the first time out there. To be honest with you I’ve never taken that kind of stuff out to a mound during spring training before. It’s usually during the season that I bring stuff like that. I was happy with the way it was coming out.”

The Cardinals struck first when Skip Schumaker hit a sacrifice fly off Jason Marquis to score Zack Cox, who opened the inning with a leadoff double.

After Minnesota drew a walk with the bases loaded to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth, St. Louis shortstop Rafael Furcal hit his first home run of the spring to deep right field.

Outfielder Shane Robinson preserved the lead in the bottom of the seventh with a bullet from center field to catch the potential tying run at the plate. He struck again just a few outs later, this time with an RBI-single to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead.

Minnesota attempted to stage a late rally, drawing their second bases loaded walk of the afternoon with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to cut the score to 3-1. Class AAA closer Victor Marte buckled down for the Cardinals, inducing a first-pitch groundout from Rene Tosoni to pick up the save.

The Cardinals will return to Roger Dean Stadium Saturday afternoon for 12:05 matchup with the Miami Marlins.

Odds and Ends

  • Overshadowing Adam Wainwright’s strong return was some bad news concerning Chris Carpenter’s status. As first reported this morning by Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Carpenter left camp this morning to seek a second opinion on neck discomfort that has plagued him for over a week. GM John Mozeliak said the results of Carpenter’s nerve testing are being sent to St. Louis for further evaluation.
  • The former Cy Young Award winner said he started to notice the discomfort following a two-inning, 30-pitch live batting practice on March 3.
  • Manager Mike Matheny told Goold that it is too early to start considering who could fill Carpenter’s spot in the rotation. “We don’t really [need to] go there right now,” he said. “We’ve got five starters. We’re just going to stay on our track until something tells us different. And that’s been our process and our thought philosophy since the beginning.”
  • Furcal, Schumaker, Berkman, Jay and Descalso were among the “regulars” to start today for the Cardinals. Kyle McClellan also saw some action out of the bullpen.

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Quotes via STLToday.comBox score can be found here.


STL 3 WAS 3: Matheny denied first win by Nats, weather

VIERA, Fla. – Cardinals reliever Lance Lynn surrendered the game-deciding two-run home run to Carlos Maldonado in the bottom of the ninth as the Cardinals and Nationals played to a 3-all tie Wednesday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium. The game was called after the bottom of the ninth due to rainy weather starting to creep in.

Daniel Descalso hit his first home run of the spring, a solo shot in the top of the fifth to tie the game at 1.

The two teams remained deadlocked until the seventh when second baseman Jarrett Hoffbauir mishandled what should have been a double play ball off the bat of Matt Adams. Hoffbauir’s blunder allowed Descalso to score the go-ahead run.

Tyler Greene followed Adams with his first RBI of the spring to give the Cardinals a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.  In two games, Greene, who is competing for the starting job at second base, is hitting .333 with a pair of walks in six official at-bats.

Cards starter Shelby Miller allowed just one run on two hits over two innings of work, but struggled early on, falling behind four of the first six batters he faced. He settled down, however, setting the Nationals down in order, on just nine pitches.

Jason Michaels drove in the only run against Miller, with an RBI single in the bottom of the first.

Marc Rzepczynski struck out two of the three batters he faced in his first appearance of the spring.

Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal are slated to make their Grapefruit League debuts at Roger Dean Stadium Thursday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 12:05.

Odds and Ends

  • The Cardinals pitchers did not allow a hit from the second through the seventh inning. That stretch included Miller, Kevin Siegrist, Jason Motte, Tyrell Jenkins, Adam Ottavino, and Rzepczynski. Those six hurlers allowed just two Washington batters to reach base.
  • Speaking of Motte, the Cardinals closer walked one over an otherwise perfect inning of work.
  • Jenkins, 19, was perfect in his Major League debut.
  • Greene registered his first stolen base of the year. He led the team with 11 stolen bases last season.
  • Jon Jay had a nice afternoon, going two for three with a strikeout.

Hank’s Sports Blog will be giving away a free University of Missouri flag, compliments of the fine folks over at CVS Flags.

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Information via Box score can be found here.

NYM 8 STL 6: Kozma’s fielding error costs Cardinals versus Mets

Matt Adams hit a grand slam to give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. (AP Photo)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Mets helped themselves to three unanswered runs in the bottom of the seventh following a throwing error by shortstop Pete Kozma to steal an 8-6 victory from the Cardinals Tuesday afternoon at Digital Domain Ball Park.

Prospect slugger Matt Adams hit a grand slam over the left field wall in the top of the seventh to give the Cardinals a 6-5 lead. It was Adams’s first Major League home run and his second hit of the spring.

The organization’s 2011 minor league Player of the Year has gone 2 for 4 with four RBI so far this spring.

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MIA 4 STL 3: Dobbs, Marlins spoil Matheny’s managerial debut

Brandon Dickson was roughed up in his two innings of work, allowing three runs on four hits, all of which came in the fourth inning. (Photo: Jeff Roberson-AP)

JUPITER,Fla. -The Mike Matheny era nearly began the same way the Tony LaRussa era ended: dramatically.

Trailing 4-0 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Cardinals’ offense finally game to life with a lead off single from Bryan Anderson.

Matt Carpenter then drove in the team’s first runs of the year with a 2-RBI double to cut the Marlins’ lead in half. Carpenter was driven in just two batters later, when pinch-hitter Steven Hill delivered a base hit into centerfield.

That was all the St. Louis offense could muster, however, as Dan Jennings retired the next two hitters to preserve Miami’s 4-3 win.

“It was close to being a great finish,” Matheny told reporters after the game. “We had good plays made in the field, I thought it was a pretty sound fundamental [game] and I thought, from beginning to end, the pitching staff did a great job working ahead in the count.”

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Reports: Cardinals and Molina finalizing five-year contract extension

Molina told reporters that he wanted to remain with the Cardinals...but only for the right price. (Image: Doug Pensinger-Getty Images)

JUPITER, Fla. – The Saint Louis Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are close to an agreement on a five-year contract extension, according to multiple reports.

Joe Strauss of the Saint Louis Post Dispatch first reported that a deal between Molina and the Cardinals was all but done Monday afternoon. Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal confirmed Strauss’s original report, adding that the five-year deal is worth between $70-$75 million.

If Rosenthal’s sources are correct, Molina’s average salary would be $14-$15 million, making him the second-highest paid catcher in Major League Baseball. Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins makes roughly $23 million per year.

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2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 9,600 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.