In their first and only scheduled split squad action of this spring, the St. Louis Cardinals were undefeated on Friday. With the rosters divided into two teams, St. Louis won the home match against the New York Mets by the score of 5-4 and tied the Washington Nationals 1-1 through nine innings at Space Coast Stadium.
Game 1: While the New York Mets aimed for their third straight spring win against the Cardinals, a rain delay stalled the contest nearly ten minutes from the original starting time. Birthday pitcher Matt Harvey took the mound against Cardinals’ veteran John Lackey.
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A lead-off double from Peter Bourjos helped the Cardinals take an early lead, as the center fielder used strong base running instincts to score on a sacrifice fly from Matt Holliday. The Cardinals’ offense proved scarce early on, as Harvey held St. Louis to three hits before an early exit in the fifth inning.
With the help of Rafael Ortega‘s first spring home run, the Cardinals were able to double their lead in the bottom of the sixth. New York countered in the following inning, as Wilmer Flores cut the lead in half with an RBI groundout.
Lackey tossed an efficient game for the Cardinals on the mound, pitching seven innings of one-run ball. St. Louis rewarded their 36 year-old starter in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring three runs during a two-out rally. Ortega drove in all three runs with his second home run of the day, giving the Cardinals a four-run lead.
While Ortega’s late heroics caused a curtain call, St. Louis’s bullpen struggled to finish the game quickly. The Mets threatened in the top of the ninth by placing their first four hitters on base. First-year Cardinal Jordan Walden gave up three earned runs during this rally, yet escaped from further damage to secure the 5-4 victory.
Game 2: The Washington Nationals came into Friday winless in four of their last five contests, looking for a different outcome after being shutout by the Cardinals 1-0 on Wednesday. Jordan Zimmermann took the mound for the Nationals, while Carlos Martinez started his fourth game of the spring.
In the bottom of the second inning, Washington’s Dan Uggla drew a lead-off walk. The Nationals took an early lead on Jose Lobaton‘s one-out double just moments later, contributing to a Washington offense with three hits and two walks in the first two innings.
St. Louis answered in the top of the fourth, using a similar small ball approach to score their only run. Randal Grichuk collected a lead-off single and moved into scoring position after a double from Matt Adams. The 23 year-old outfielder scored on an RBI groundout from Kolten Wong.
Washington’s pitchers combined for a strong game, led by Zimmermann’s six innings of one-run ball. Drew Storen, Blake Treinen and Rich Hill all pitched scoreless innings for the Nationals, limiting the Cardinals to just one hit and one walk in the final three innings.
Martinez issued five hits and two walks, but struck out six Nationals’ hitters over five innings. Seth Maness and Trevor Rosenthal both struck out a pair of batters in the game, before a scoreless ninth inning Marcus Hatley concluded the action at a tie.
Preview: After Friday’s action, the St. Louis Cardinals improve to 11-8-2 this spring. The split squad rosters will recombine tomorrow against the Detroit Tigers tomorrow, as Lance Lynn is expected to take the mound at 12:05 p.m. CT in Lakeland, Fl.