By: Jim Tsapelas
The Cardinals returned to Busch Stadium on Monday to begin a three game series with the Washington Nationals. The Nationals are in second place in the National League East, six games behind the Division leading New York Mets.
The Nationals jumped to an early one run lead in the first inning of Monday’s contest. The Cardinals grabbed the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Nats’ chipped away at the Redbirds’ lead in both the top of the sixth and in the top of the seventh innings, taking a five to three lead over the Cardinals.
Cardinals’ starter John Lackey (11-8) has been a wonderful addition to the Cardinals’ rotation. Lackey who is thirty-six years of age was acquired from the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2014 trade deadline. Lackey was acquired to add a seasoned veteran for the 2014 St. Louis playoff run. The Red Sox’s had a performance provision in Lackey’s contract which stipulated if he failed to appear in a certain number of games in 2014; he would work for the league minimum in 2015. Lackey who was injured for a part of the Red Sox’s 2014 campaign failed to meet the contract’s stipulated number of innings. Lackey could have asked the Cardinals to re-work his contract, but he did not. Following the Cardinals’ 2014 post season hopes coming to an end in San Francisco last October, Lackey told Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak he would play for the Cardinals in 2015 under the terms of his 2014 Red Sox’s contract.
Lackey, who made 4.917 million in 2014 with the Red Sox and Cardinals, is making $500,000 as he chose to maintain the integrity of his contractual commitment made as a Red Sox.
Lackey appeared to be a bit shaky on Monday. Lackey labored and worked his way Monday through six innings. Lackey allowed just two runs on four hits while striking out eight. He needed to throw one hundred-five pitches to get through the six innings.
The Nationals got on the board in the first inning. Lackey could have gotten through the first inning without the Nationals scoring. A fielding error by Kolton Wong, his fourteen error of the year, extended the inning allowing Bryce Harper to score on a Ryan Zimmerman double. It was Zimmerman’s twenty-second double of the year.
Lackey left the game, with the lead at the end of the sixth inning. Starting off the seventh, reliever Kevin Siegrist (6-1) was unable to hold onto the slim one run lead enjoyed by the Cardinals. Siegrist walked the leadoff hitter; he retired the next two batters he faced. He then walked MVP candidate Harper-and Zimmerman hit a three-one pitch into the green “batters eye” in center-field; making the score Washington five-St. Louis three.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Cardinals’ rallied sending ten hitters to the plate. With two outs, the Cardinals’ had six straight hitters reach base. With RBI’s earned by Stephen Piscotty, Jhonny Peralta, Jason Heyward, and Kolten Wong. In the game the Cardinals’ banged out thirteen hits, twelve of which were for singles.
In one of the anomalies of baseball, Siegrist earned both his fourth blown save of the season as well as his sixth win of the season.
On Tuesday the Cardinals look to begin September as they ended August; with a win. The Nationals’ Joe Ross (5-5) gets the nod in the second game of the three game series. The Cardinals announced on Monday that Tuesday’s scheduled starter Carlos Martinez was being scratched, due to reported back tightness. Making his MLB debut is the left-handed pitching Marco Gonzalez who was called-up from AAA-Memphis. According to MLB.com, Gonzalez is the number four top prospect in the Cardinals organization.
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