Mar 8, 2012; Jupiter, FL. USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox at Roger Dean Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Red Sox 9-3. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Rants Daily: Garcia dominates Nationals in Cardinals' win

The St. Louis Cardinals will need their pitchers to be in good form early on this season with Chris Carpenter set to start the season on the disabled list. They want Jaime Garcia to establish himself in his third full season as more than a middle of the rotation starter. They hope he got on that track today.

Garcia was dominant in five innings of shutout ball today. He had nine strikeouts and no walks. He only allowed three singles on the day. It was a stark contrast from his last start where he couldn’t find the plate and was knocked around. In this one he threw 54 of his 74 pitches for strikes.

While Garcia was looking sharp the Cardinals’ bats were thumping. Carlos Beltran, who started in center field, was 2-for-2 with a double and a run scored. Tyler Greene hit his first home run of the spring, a two-run shot in the Redbirds’ five-run fourth inning. Matt Carpenter and Tony Cruz each had three hits in three at-bats.

The relief crew was just as impressive as Garcia. Jason Motte worked a scoreless inning wiggling around two walks. Marc Rzepczynski and J.C. Romero, lefties in arms, each struck out two in their individual innings of work. Scott Linebrink finished off the game with yet another scoreless outing.

NO NEWS ON CARPENTER

There was no word on Chris Carpenter’s condition as he spent a third day getting tests done on his neck. The Cardinals have been quiet about their potential moves, preferring and understandably so, to wait until they know exactly what is causing Carpenter’s issues. For now, we know that Lance Lynn will make Carpenter’s starts.

ROTATION IS SET

The starting rotations is set up as follows; Kyle Lohse gets the Opening Day start, then Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook.

BELTRAN IN CENTER AND #2 IN ORDER

According to MLB.com reporter Anthony Castrovince, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny likes putting Beltran in the #2 spot in the lineup in an effort to get him as many at-bats as possible. Matheny also mentioned that Beltran could see time in center field against left-handed pitching. This would be when Allen Craig comes back. Craig, a right-handed hitter would play right field. Jon Jay, who will get an abundance of playing time in center, is a left-handed hitter, thus the switch.

CRAIG LOOKING GOOD

Craig took fly balls in the outfield on the back fields yesterday and then played in a game for both sides according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. As a batter for the Memphis Redbirds, he homered and had two singles. He was less effective for the Springfield Cardinals striking out three times. Craig is hoping to get into a few more minor games before trying his hand at major league talent. The Cardinals have stated he could see action in a few MLB games before breaking camp.

TODAY’S GAME

Adam Wainwright is ready to make his fourth start of the spring. He will try to reach the 70 pitch plateau with two starts, including today’s, left before the regular season. So far this spring Wainwright has allowed one unearned run and two hits in nine innings. He’s walked four and struck out four. He’ll face the Miami Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium.

MY TWO CENTS

For what it’s worth, Garcia’s outing is nothing out of the ordinary. He does possess the ability to pitch exceedingly well in games. He was nearly flawless today. Everything seemed to be working well. He was working at a good pace and it was easy to see he had a rhythm. What is also not out of the ordinary is Garcia following up such a start with a mediocre one. The Cardinals are going to need him to take on some extra load this season. Carpenter is obviously going to miss some games and we can’t expect Wainwright to throw in excess of 200 innings in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. Garcia is going to have to turn in more of these games where he is extremely effective so that 100 or 110 pitches gets him into the seventh or eighth inning not the sixth. What do you think? Can Garcia elevate his game to the next level? Let us know in the comments.

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Tags: Adam Wainwright Allen Craig Cardinals Carlos Beltran Chris Carpenter J.C. Romero Jaime Garcia Jake Westbrook Jason Motte Jon Jay Kyle Lohse Lance Lynn Marc Rzepczynski Matt Carpenter Mike Matheny St Louis Cardinals Tony Cruz Tyler Greene

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