By: Jim Tsapelas
The St. Louis Cardinals took their first loss of the 2016 Grapefruit League as the home team Houston Astros out played the Cardinals by the score of six to three.
Jaime Garcia making his first spring start allowed two home runs in his first of two innings of work. With two balls, two strikes, and one out in the first inning, Marvin Gonzalez sent a Garcia pitch sailing over the left-field wall. Also in the first, Luis Valbuena hit a monumental blast over the right-field wall; following Garcia’s issuing a walk to Carlos Correa. Score: Bottom of the first, Cardinals nothing-Astros three.
The Cardinals’ bats showed signs of life in the top of the fourth. With the Astros’ Dan Straily on the mound, C.J. McElroy who entered the game as a pinch-runner and replaced Stephen Piscotty in right-field scored on a Jacob Wilson sacrifice fly out to center. Randal Grichuk scored on a ground ball double to left-field by Anthony Garcia. Score: Astros three-Cardinals two.
In the home half of the fourth, with the Birds’ Luke Weaver on the bump, Preston Tucker homers on a fly ball to center. Houston adds to their lead in the bottom of the fifth, with Weaver throwing for St. Louis, Jose Altuve doubles on a fly ball to right center; scoring Andrew Aplin. Still in the bottom of the fifth, Tony Kemp scored on a fly ball to right-field by Valbuena. Completing five full innings of play the score: Astros six-Cardinals two.
I had Valbuena on my fantasy team last year. He is a good fantasy team addition!
Aledmys Diaz plated the final scoring opportunity for the Cardinals as Carson Kelly hit into a ground out. In a January 11th article Five MiLB Players to Watch This Spring I wrote, “Aledmys Diaz defected from Cuba in 2012 while playing for the Cuban National Baseball Team in a tournament in the Netherlands. Diaz represented the team Naranjas de Villa Clara, in the Cuban National Series. From 2008-2012, playing in Cuba, Diaz batted .308 with a .401 OBP and a .444 slugging percentage. Due to his age, Diaz was declared ineligible by MLB to sign with any MLB team until February 19, 2014. On March 9, 2014, Diaz signed a four-year contract with the Redbirds worth eight million dollars. The 6’1” Diaz weighs 195 pounds. He bats and throws right-handed. In two MiLB seasons, his batting average is .276 in one hundred and sixty-three games. Diaz is the heir apparent to Cardinal shortstop Jhonny Peralta.”
Going into the top of the ninth inning, it looked as though Abner Doubleday, himself, was once again smiling on the Redbirds. With the bases loaded and two outs, with a no ball-no strike count, Patrick Wisdom pops out to the Astros’ shortstop Danny Worth to end the game, keeping the bases full of Cardinals’ runners, and handing the Cardinals their first loss of the spring.
Houston’s thirty-seven year old veteran Wandy Rodriguez (1-0) gets the win. Rodriguez threw the first two innings, allowed one hit and struck out four. Juan Minaya, who loaded the bases in the ninth, picks up his first save. In the ninth, Minaya allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out two.
The Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia (0-1) gets the loss. Garcia pitched the first-two innings, allowing two hits, three earned runs, walked one, struck out three and offered-up two home runs.
On Saturday the Cardinals once again take on the role of the visiting team as they face the Miami Marlins in a 12:05 CST start at Roger Dean Stadium. In the battle of southpaws, for possibly at least the first-two innings, the Cardinals Marco Gonzales squares off against the Marlins We-Yin Che.
Spring Training Odds and Ends:
Arguably, Jaime Garcia has some of the best stuff of the Cardinals starting five. The injury prone Garcia probably wished for a better outing Friday. In a post-game interview, Garcia vented, “It’s the first game, and sometimes with the adrenaline you leave a couple pitches up,” Garcia said. “A lot of times you get away with a couple of those. Today, I left two pitches up — four-seamers, pitches I usually don’t throw a lot of — and they hit them out. They have a good lineup. No excuse.”
Matt Holliday is scheduled to make his Spring Training starting debut in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.
Adam Wainwright has been announced as Monday’s starter.
Thanks for reading!