I think for the most part there is a sense of something special with the Cardinals. Sort of maybe a dynasty in the making. Hopeful dreams? maybe, but as with each April, there’s always that sense of optimism. The Cardinals are a really good team but some say the Reds are better. Maybe, maybe not. In the long run, it remains to be seen.
As for the Cardinals first opponents of the year, the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’re a really good team in a tough division. After watching the first game, I admit I was a bit worried that the Cards were going to stink it up early on. Opening Day starter for Arizona was Ian Kennedy,who won 21 games a couple of years ago. He held the Cards in check pretty well after a rough first inning, during which the Cards took an early 1-0 lead on back to back doubles by Matt Carpenter and Matt Holliday. Adam Wainwright looked sharp until the fourth inning when he was hit on the upper arm by a Gerado Parra line drive in the third. From the fourth inning on, it all went downhill. The only bright spot was the rbi single Descalso and he was thrown out trying to go to second on the throw. Shaky defense and shaky baserunning set the tone for the opener.
So as game two began, I was hoping for a bit of change. With Jaime Garcia starting, I was a bit worried, though he did have a decent spring. My worries were unfounded though. Despite three mediocre innings trying to hit, Garcia seemed to be on his game, though he did allow a home run to Miguel Monterro leading off the second. But that was to be his only real bad pitch. The Cards tied it up in the fourth after Carpenter doubled and one out later Allen Craig drove him home with a groundout. With better defense and Garcia dealing, the Cards rocked the sixth inning. After John Jay was hit by a pitch, Carpenter flew out but Holliday golfed a laser beam into the left stands for his and the Cards first homer of the year.He literally hit it of the shoe tops! In the bottom of the sixth, with two outs, Garcia lost his command and ended up walking the bases loaded. Manager Mike Matheny summoned Edward Mujica in to pitch and struck out Jason Kubel on a full count. In the seventh, it all ended as Heath Bell delivered his first pitch for the Diamondbacks, Pete Kozma bombed into centerfield. Shane Robinson, who had come in on a double switch to play right field, walked and John Jay delivered a bomb to right field, nearly hitting it over the flag pole. After Carpenter doubled and Craig singled, the Diamonbacks got out of the inning. In the eighth, Trevor Rosenthal, he of the blazing triple digit fastball, came in and retired the side in order, (Striking out both Miguel Monterro and Paul Goldschmidt on 100 MPH fastballs.) And with a 1-2-3 ninth by Mitchell Boggs, the Cards had their first win of the year.
A few things they need to work on. First is the strikeouts. Ten in both games is way too much. They need to be better defensively and stop dumb base running plays. It happened again as Kozma was picked off first in the third inning. Garcia was good but he needs to be more efficient putting hitters away.
Some good things. The bullpen was lights out. After a couple of years of nightmares during the beginning of the year, it’s nice to see the bullpen much better. Granted, Fernando Salas needs to pitch better than he did in the first game and a healthy Motte will be nice, but it was great to see the bullpen mow everyone down in game two. Trevor Rosenthal is a beast. What a freaking arm.
That’s it for tonight. Another tomorrow and I’ll be posting the 1980-2013 All-Time New York Mets Teamlater tonight.