March 21, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (35) throws in the first inning against the New York Mets during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Rants Daily: Westbrook shines in Cardinals' victory over Mets

St. Louis Cardinals’ starter Jake Westbrook entered his fourth start of the spring having given up only one run in nine innings. He left the start with the same lone run against him. In six innings he allowed three hits and walked none. He induced 8 ground outs to 2 fly outs in a 2-1 win over the New York Mets.

March 21, 2012; Jupiter, FL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jake Westbrook (35) throws in the first inning against the New York Mets during a spring training game at Roger Dean Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Westbrook came into camp with a purpose. He lost twenty pounds in the offseason. He has not lost any of his strength from the weight loss. But he has certainly regained his composure and is throwing ground balls at a rate beyond even his lofty career totals.

He seems like the player who was with the Cleveland Indians a few years ago. He resembles the player the Cardinals traded for in 2010. With the circumstances surrounding Chris Carpenter, a rejuvenated Westbrook couldn’t come at a better time.

The Cardinals needed Westbrook to be good in this one as Mets’ starter Johan Santana was equally impressive. Santana held the Redbirds to one run on six hits. He struck out six while walking none in six innings of work.

The game was scoreless until the Cardinals half of the sixth. Back-to-back singles by Tyler Greene and Carlos Beltran led off the inning. Santana next struck out Matt Holliday and David Freese, but then gave up a single to Lance Berkman, scoring Greene.

The Mets tied the game in the top of the ninth on a home run by Jordany Valdespin off of Fernando Salas.

In the bottom of the ninth, Matt Adams singled and was replaced on the bases by Adron Chambers. Chambers came around to score on a one-out single by Jon Jay to win the game.

For a fan’s perspective of the game see Redbird Rants staffer Marilyn Green’s post today as she was enjoying the game live at Roger Dean Stadium.

CARPENTER SET TO START SEASON ON DL

When word broke yesterday about Chris Carpenter heading back to St. Louis, there was a collective groan from Cardinal Nation. While we don’t know for certain, it seems like this could be a bigger issue than was originally thought. But, there is still the chance that Carpenter began throwing too early and had not allowed enough downtime thus causing the issue to resurface. Or the disk could be pushing on a nerve causing the pain elsewhere. Fortunately, the Cardinals had already set the backup plan in motion and Lance Lynn will take any turns Carpenter misses. Check out Redbird Rants writer Chris Ferguson’s take on Carpenter’s problems and his conflicted feelings about how the Redbirds handle the situation. I also wrote about Lynn and his ability to be everything Roy Oswalt can.

LOHSE GETS OPENING DAY START

Since Opening Day falls on Kyle Lohse‘s turn, he will get the start by default as told to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com by manager Mike Matheny. This puts Adam Wainwright in line for the home opener for the Redbirds.

CRAIG COULD BE READY FOR OPENING DAY

Where there was bad news about Carpenter, there was good news concerning Allen Craig. The club is unwilling to say that Craig will definitely be on the DL to start the season according to Langosch. Craig has progressed quickly enough that he has begun playing in minor league games and will try to get time in the field today. Once he gets a few games under his belt in the minors, he will try to make the shift to some major league games before the season begins. This would be beneficial to the Cardinals since Skip Schumaker looks like he will start the season on the DL.

TODAY’S GAME

Jaime Garcia gets back at it today against the Washington Nationals. Garcia has had a mediocre spring so far. He will try to reach the 70 pitch plateau in this contest. He’ll need to work on getting ahead of batters instead of working from behind as he did in his previous outing. Here is the lineup provided by Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

  1. Tyler Greene 2b
  2. Carlos Beltran cf
  3. Matt Holliday lf
  4. David Freese 3b
  5. Yadier Molina c
  6. Rafael Furcal ss
  7. Shane Robinson rf
  8. Tony Cruz 1b
  9. Jaime Garcia p

 

Beltran gets his first start in center-field today and Tyler Greene is leading off playing second base. Furcal slides down to the sixth spot in the lineup. Missing from action today are Berkman and Jon Jay. Note, the DH is no longer being used as pitchers have begun to hit for themselves.

MY TWO CENTS

For what its worth, the injury bug hitting during spring training may not be a bad thing. The Cardinals had a multitude of injuries during the season in 2011 and overcame them. To have some of these things pop up before the regular season begins allows the team to make some decisions without jumping the gun. Teams would be more apt to respond irrationally mid-season when the feeling is that more is on the line. If you believe in balance, getting the injuries out of the way now paves the way for health when it matters, in October. What are your thoughts?

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Adron Chambers Allen Craig Cardinals Carlos Beltran Chris Carpenter David Freese Fernando Salas Jaime Garcia Jake Westbrook Johan Santana Lance Berkman Lance Lynn Matt Holliday Mets Mike Matheny Nationals Skip Schumaker St Louis Cardinals Tyler Greene

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