It wasn’t a perfect home opener for the Cardinals. There was a lot of stuff falling from the sky, though given the winter we’ve had I guess we should be thankful it wasn’t snow. The Clydesdales didn’t get to trot around the field. The absence of Stan Musial was still felt on just the second Opening Day without him.
Other than that, though, it was darn close.
Someone Tweeted out yesterday that the Cards were 2-6 in openers in the new Busch, so getting a win against the Reds on Monday wasn’t a fait accompli. Especially since the Redbirds were facing Tony Cingrani, who had shut them down fairly effortlessly in Cincinnati last weekend.
We may be seeing the key for this team to beating left-handers in the first week of the season. First with Francisco Liriano, then yesterday with Cingrani, the Cards pounced early, not letting them settle in. In the bottom of the first, the first three St. Louis batters reached and then, after Allen Craig struck out on ball four, showing that it isn’t 2013 anymore, Hero Yadier Molina cleared the full bases with a double, putting the Cards up 3-0.
Just like they did with Liriano, the bats then got a little quiet. Not as bad as in Pittsburgh, when it was roughly 13 up, 13 down, but from the second until Matt Adams singled with one out in the sixth, the Cardinals were hitless. Cingrani tossed in some walks in that span and Kolten Wong reached on an error, but it becomes difficult to mount a real rally without a base knock or two.
Still, the Cards had Michael Wacha on the mound and the way this guy has pitched ever since his second callup last year, if you give him three runs, you are very likely going to win. Wacha wasn’t quite as sharp as he was in Cincinnati, allowing seven hits, but his defense picked him up as they turned a couple of double plays behind him to erase leadoff batters as well as the rundown they got Billy Hamilton in off of third in the first inning, spearheaded by a heads-up play by Wong.
After the Cards put up two in the seventh, it seemed that it was just a matter of time before they could cap off an exciting day with a win. It was, but Goat Trevor Rosenthal made it much more interesting than it had to be. Walking one guy in the ninth is never a good thing. Walking two guys and allowing two hits, bringing the tying run to the plate, got people thinking about another home opener when things went awry. Thankfully Rosenthal settled and got the next three guys, otherwise this blog post sounds a lot different this morning.
With Ballpark Village opening (and, of course, counting into the tally), yesterday set a new attendance record. I expect that’ll be broken if the Cards are playing in October, but it’s a great way to kick off the 2014 season.
Save for Rosenthal, the bullpen was pretty solid yesterday. Then again, Mike Matheny went with the old standbys of Carlos Martinez and Kevin Siegrist. It is good to see that Matheny’s not necessarily hidebound to specific innings with these guys. Knowing the Reds had Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, Martinez appeared in the seventh and got an out in the eighth before turning it over to Siegrist. If the lineup was different, Siegrist might have come in first before Martinez. Being flexible with how you use people is a good thing, though again Matheny’s going to have to be careful not to overuse these two or he may find that even his old reliables aren’t so reliable.
As we posted yesterday, the Cards are on Fox Sports 1 tonight, so if you aren’t a fan of the Cardinal announcers, you could be happy about that, assuming you get Fox Sports 1, of course. On the flip side of that, you get Thom Brennamen and, from what I gather on Twitter, for most Cardinal fans they’d rather have even Al Hrabosky than Thom, so maybe it’s one of those careful what you wish for situations.
Lance Lynn and Homer Bailey hook up again after facing each other last week in the Queen City. Lynn gave up three runs in five innings, but brought home the win as the Cardinal offense busted out after scoring just one run in the first two games.
Lynn’s still got to figure out Votto and Bruce, or at least make sure the hits that they get don’t burn him. So far the Cards have been able to limit Hamilton’s time on the bags and that probably would be a good thing for tonight as well.
Bailey has been inconsistent in his career, but we hope for more of last week, when he gave up four runs in less than five innings. That’s much better than those shutdown games he’s had in the past against St. Louis.
Peter Bourjos got his first hits of the season yesterday, otherwise I’d have almost thought it a lock that Jon Jay would get the start tonight. He still might, given he’s hit well so far this season and does have the history against Bailey, but Bourjos got the call last week and well might again tonight.
All the festivities are over. There’s no more pomp and circumstance until October. It’s just the daily grind of baseball, which is wonderful!