Spring Training Update: Last Six Games


How a Major League Baseball team plays towards the end of Spring Training can often transfer into that team’s performance in the opening months of the season. So now, with opening day being this Thursday, let’s assess the Cardinal’s recent play.

March 21: Let’s take a look at the Cardinals last six games. On Monday, March 21, the Cardinals lost a tough one to the Nationals, 7-2. This game was the one that caught the attention of the press, not because of the play of both teams, but instead mainly because of the bench-clearing episode that took place in the seventh inning.

In reading up about this conflict, two things caught my eye. One was that the main conflict that occurred between the two teams was between the two managers, La Russa and Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. Here’s what Riggleman had to say following the game:

"Tony and I are great friends. Tony and I have barked at each other a few times through the years. Tony doesn’t consider me a friend during the game, and I don’t consider him a friend during the game. It all goes out the window. Words were exchanged, and it’s unfortunate."

“Words?” I would love to know just which “words” were being used in this heated argument. The fact that Riggleman admits that “it’s unfortunate” tells me that these guys’ tempers really were flaring.

Secondly, I noticed a common denominator in any problems that have occurred recently between the Cards and Nats: Nyjer Morgan. The series of pitches thrown a little too inside by both teams seemed to stem from an incident in the fifth inning when Morgan tried to beat out a play at first and ran a little to close to star first baseman Albert Pujols, stepping on his foot.

This hasn’t been Nyjer’s first shady encounter with the Cardinals. Last August Morgan was criticized by the Cardinals after plowing over catcher Bryan Anderson at a play in the plate. Anderson did not even have the ball.

From my own encounters watching Morgan play he often seems to be the catalyst of many conflicts. Hopefully if he let’s another play get away from him in the upcoming regular season, Major League Baseball will have something to say.

I thought it was good to see some passion come out of these guys. With the rough off-season that the players have had to deal with, I was glad that they had a game like this to maybe help let off some steam.

March 23, 24 + 27: The Cardinals played two successive game against the New York Mets and then finished off the three game series today, March 27. I was happy to see that in three games against the same team, in a short period of time the Cardinals were able to take two of three from the Mets. The entire season is simply a bunch of three, sometimes four game series. However, come April, the Mets will most likely be a team that the Cardinals are expected to beat pretty handily, perhaps taking three out of three.

March 25: This was a game that I was truly looking forward to. A rematch of Monday’s loss against the Nationals, I was hoping that the Cardinals could get some revenge on Friday. Unfortunately, the Cards lost 3-2 in a tough pitching duel. I have to say, this loss discouraged me slightly. I would have liked to see the Cards offense come out firing after Monday’s incident, but it was not meant to be. However, it is just one spring training game, therefore there is no reason to be too disheartened. 

March 26: On Saturday, the Cards lost another close game to the Florida Marlins, 6-5. Starting Thursday, the Cardinals will have to find the end-of-game grit to snag these close victories.

The Cardinals will get a chance to get some payback against the Marlins tomorrow at 12:05 PM.

When looking at these six games as a whole, I believe that we can make the generalization that this team has yet to find their groove. But can you really blame them? Although Spring Training just might be a good indicator of the season, it is also a time for teams to develop chemistry and get back into the flow of things. So despite the Cardinals 2-4 record in their last six, it is obviously too early to be concerned. Hopefully these games will be reference points to learn from when the Cards are going through a rough time in the mid-summer months.