There seems to be something about Opening Day in St. Louis that adds to the pressure on the players. The Cardinals are now 1-6 in their last 7 home openers. I think a little of it has to do with players not being on their normal pre-game schedules. The rest of it might be being in the presence of the now 6 living Hall of Famers the Cardinals bring out. I can see how shaking hands with Bruce Sutter, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith and Red Schoendienst might throw some of the younger guys off. Combine that with a few weakly hit balls off of Mitchell Boggs in the 9th and his 4 walks, and the Reds took game 1. The sky is falling crowd was out in full force.
Overall, I thought the Cards did a great job with the ceremonies and had a very nice tribute to Stan Musial. It wasn’t the same without Stan, and it must have been an emotional roller coaster for players and the fans. There were some things that caught my attention that are worth noting. Chris Carpenter removed his hat before shaking the hands of the HOF’ers and Lance Lynn must have been watching, because as the next in line he did as well. It seemed like Red was telling some pretty good jokes to each passing veteran. The Dalmatian that was on the wagon being pulled by the Clydesdales seemed as nervous as some of the players, as the guy sitting next to him had to keep putting his hand on his rear to try and get him to sit still. I know my dog would like to think that 50,000 people were cheering for him.
I really hope Jaime Garcia’s shoulder holds up in 2013 as the movement on his pitches was incredible. His 10 K’s in 6.2 IP was a good sign. Except for walking the pitcher with 2 outs and nobody on in the 3rd inning, he seemed to not have any mental hiccups. Trevor Rosenthal gave up a run and gave up another hold, but I don’t think there’s any reason to worry. Again, let’s wait until the month is over before we start saying what a guy can or can’t do. Remember that he’s only 22. Boggs just had one of those games where nothing went right. The only thing I do question at this point and time is why Boggs and the Cards felt the need to change the way he stands on the mound. It’s hard to argue with the results from last year. If it ain’t broke, you know.
Like I said it was just a weird game. When someone like Shin-Soo Choo drops the two fly balls like he did, you just think to yourself it’s going to be one of those great days for the Cards, and then the 9th inning happens. Anyway, I’m not worried about Boggs or Rosenthal.
On to game 2 of the series, and Lynn just looked great. His fastball command and velocity was back as he had his way with the Reds, also striking out 10. The Cardinals were shut down through the first 5 inning against Bronson Arroyo, and then Matt Adams went deep with a 2-run HR hitting for Lynn. The Cards have a really good problem with Adams on the bench. With the rest that Mike Matheny plans on giving Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday, Adams should see about 3 starts every 7 games. When Holliday and Beltran sit, Allen Craig will play in LF and RF with Adams at 1B and Adams will play for Craig once a week at 1B. However you slice it up, the Cards will have a power bat off the bench in every game. Rosenthal and Boggs bounced back in game 2 as most of us knew they would.
Jake Westbrook made sure the Cards will go into the series starting Friday against the Brewers with a well-rested BP. Westbrook pitched his first shutout since 2006, with his only blemish being 4 walks. The Cards looked to be in a pitcher’s duel until the 5th inning, scoring 4, 4 and 2 in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings. Jon Jay, Carpenter, Beltran and Adams all went deep, and Carpenter finished the day 4-5 as well as tied for the league lead in runs scored with 11.
I was surprised to see Carpenter at 2B with Westbrook on the mound, however, I was happy to see it. I don’t think Matheny should give much thought when it comes to who should be the primary 2B for the year. Daniel Descalso’s defense doesn’t seem to be that much better than Carpenter, and certainly not enough to keep Carpenter’s bat out of the lineup. Carpenter works the count as good as anyone and may be the best kept secret in the NL right now.
I’d like to see Shane Robinson get a few starts for Jay here and there. I know many like Jay, but when talk of him winning the gold glove someday starts, I have to mute the TV. Jay is a nice ballplayer on this team with the deep talent surrounding him, and he does have good numbers on offense. However, he doesn’t work the count good enough for a lead-off man most of the time, he has a weak arm, gets bad jumps on some balls in CF and takes some awkward routes. If Matheny is insistent about keeping bench players sharp, there’s no reason Robinson shouldn’t be included. So far, that’s the only thing I can complain about in 2013. I’m not bashing Jay, I just think certain fans feel he’s a little more polished than he actually is. Being a good, complementary ballplayer is fine.
It doesn’t look like Jason Motte will be pitching in 2013. I really wish he would go ahead and get TJS now so that he would be back sooner in 2014. We’ve all seen that resting a torn UCL just doesn’t work. I guess the Cards want to hope for the best, but I just don’t see rest helping. I can’t find an instance with any other pitcher from another team resting it and it being fine either. I hope I’m wrong.