The St. Louis Cardinals first Spring Training game is in the books and it went down as a 5-4 loss to the Miami Marlins. Even though it was a loss, it still felt great to finally be able to sit back and take in an actual game of baseball in 2014.
In lieu of an actual recap, which I assume Redbird Rants Editor Daniel Solzman will be handling, I thought I’d take a minute to get a few thoughts out of my head following the conclusion of this one. Without any further ado, here are some of the random things that went through my head today. You can also find St. Louis Cardinals tickets here for the remainder of Spring Training.
1. It was disappointing that we didn’t get to see Jhonny Peralta make any type of appearance in today’s game, but the season is long, and he’ll most likely be playing tomorrow so I’m not going to dwell on it too long.
2. Carlos Martinez consistently kept the ball down in the zone throughout the first 3 hitters, and then hung a breaking ball to Jones who immediately made him pay with the 2 run shot. The second inning was more of the same: Down, Down, Down. Martinez once again kept everything down and the end result was 3 straight outs. The third saw some more, and then he was done. In all, Martinez tossed 36 pitches to get through 3 innings. He made one mistake, and he didn’t get away with it. Aside from that it was a solid outing. How could anyone not like what they saw today?
3. Tony Cruz is a very capable backup. In the Yelich at bat in the 3rd inning, Cruz smothered ball 3 as it came across the plate in the dirt. It was a phenomenal play, and just goes to show that he is more than capable defensively behind the plate. I’m not sure how he would translate if Yadi were to go down for an extended period of time, but here’s hoping the Cards don’t run Yadi into the ground night after night. Cruz can handle the work.
4. Kolten Wong wasn’t locked in at the plate, and I hope it’s not a sign that he is pressing to try and make an early impression that his hitting last season isn’t who he is at the plate. He struck out on a ball out of the zone in his first at bat, and didn’t look good in that at bat at all. His second at bat was much better as he worked the count back full after being down 0-2, but he took strike 2 down the middle on a fastball and also took strike 3 on the outside edge down and away to get caught looking. Pitcher hit his spot, and Wong paid for it. It’ll come eventually, just hope he doesn’t press trying to find it.
5. Yadier Molina is still a stud. Relaxed approach at the plate netted a 2-2 start on 2 balls hit through the right side of the infield. Take what’s given and go with it. Great plate approach, just as we’ve come to expect from him the past couple of years.
6. Peter Bourjos had a decent AB in his first as a Cardinal before waving at strike 3 just out of the zone. Jose Fernandez breaking ball is legit so there’s no shame in that ending. He made Fernandez make a pitch for strike 2 which was clearly not what Bourjos was looking for so the approach there was good too. He saw a steady stream of breaking balls after that and ended up smashing one off the 3rd baseman to drive in the Cards second run in the 4th inning to tie the game.
7. Tyler Lyons looked great today. The first batter he faced is the best hitter the Marlins have in Giancarlo Stanton. He quickly got Stanton down 0-2 and then K’d him looking on the 4th pitch of the at bat on the outside corner. Lyons threw 9 total pitches in his first inning of work to get 3 outs. He threw 25 total pitches in 2 innings of work, and only made 1 mistake which Brian Bogusevic stroked for a liner up the middle for a single.
8. Marco Gonzales tried to be too fine, and he paid the price for it. Clearly the kid has some good stuff, but his location was just a tad bit off today. He threw 42 pitches in his 1.2 innings of work, walked 2 batters, and left a couple others belt high that were punished. Things will get better for him going forward now that his first outing of 2014 is under his belt. As Hrabosky said during the broadcast, “You learn more from these types of outings than you do when you go out and sail through 1-2-3.” Here’s hoping Gonzales takes the lessons learned today and applies them going forward.
9. Patrick Wisdom has some great pop. He absolutely smoked a 2 run homer to left center field in the bottom of the 9th inning. It was a shot by the 22 year old. The ball was belt high, and he didn’t miss it.
10. One bonus Marlins thought – They have a player on their hands in Derek Dietrich. He flashed leather all day down at the hot corner and he was fun to watch. I’m not sure if he can force his way on to their roster with the veterans they have in front of him, but if he keeps playing like he did today they may not have a choice.
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RPKraemer.