St. Louis Cardinals: Exciting start to the spring
The St. Louis Cardinals unofficially (but officially) started their Spring Training games today with an exhibition match up against the Sunbelt Conference’s Florida Atlantic University. All of this was somewhat lost in the wake of the wonderful Wong news, though.
Lost in the news, yes, but not completely lost… Let’s take a brief minute to celebrate the outstanding St. Louis Cardinals news covering the next five to six years with Wong at second— and for a steal! $25.5MM across five years with a sixth-year option at $12.5MM; way to go Mozeliak and congratulations, Kolton Wong!
And, congratulations to every Cardinals fan too! Let’s hope that Wong progressively finds better and better success across these next five-to-six years.
Now to the action that started today: the exhibition game against Florida Atlantic University. For those who missed it, like me (thanks to a trip to Nashville), I’ll give us each a quick game recap here. Let me add that I am thrilled to provide this game recap since the majority of the players appearing in today’s game are destined (in my humble opinion) to begin the 2016 campaign with Memphis, whom I will be covering.
St. Louis sent Austin Gomber to the mound as today’s starter. Gomber’s appearance, while indicating the organization’s belief in him as a prominent starter of the future, was joyful to him since he was facing the university that he attended. Gomber pitched two solid innings, struck out three batters, and didn’t give up a hit.
Florida Atlantic sent Sean Labsan as their starter. Labsan lasted two innings, struck out two batters, walked two, and allowed one hit.
Other Notable Pitchers
Of interest in this game to me was the appearance of Seung-Hwan Oh, Miguel Socolovich, and Deck McGuire. Oh followed Gomber’s start and pitched one complete inning while striking out one batter and allowing no hits. McGuire appeared later in the competition, appearing in two complete innings while striking out four batters, and allowing only one hit. Socolovich closed the game with one complete inning. In his closure, Socolovich walked one batter but surrendered no hits.
The Cards sent the following starting lineup for the action against the Owls of Florida Atlantic:
Charlie Tilson– CF
Greg Garcia– SS
Jacob Wilson– 3B
Jon Rodriguez– 1B
David Washington– RF
Anthony Garcia– LF
Dean Anna– 2B
Mike Ohlman– C
Carson Kelly– DH
The game was mildly quiet through two and one half innings. In the bottom of the third, with Greg Garcia at first, Jacob Wilson (1-0 count) sent a fly to right field. FAU defender, Lashley, was unable to catch the fly but fired quickly to second base for the force on Garcia. In this play, however, Charlie Tilson was able to score giving the Cardinals the early 1-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth inning, with Daniel Poncedeleon pitching for the Cardinals, FAU was ready to plate two runs. With two outs in the inning, Corey Littrell relieved Poncedeleon and immediately surrendered a single, plating two additional runs. Still with two outs, a fielding error by Dean Anna (his major reason for appearing first with Memphis– his weak fielding) allowed an additional two runs to score, allowing FAU to leave the top of the fourth with a 6-1 lead.
Everything settled until the bottom of the eighth when the Cardinals assessed their revenge. Magneuris Sierra (who I am super excited to watch) smashed a double on an 0-2 count, which plated Wilson with no outs. The score was now 6-2 FAU.
With the out total remaining at zero, Patrick Wisdom joined the double-fun on a 1-0 count while plating two. Score: 6-4, FAU.
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The doubles did not stop there. Still with no outs in the bottom of the eighth, Steve Bean (likely bound for a level lower than Memphis) joined in on the fun by hitting a double and plating two more runs. The score was now 6-6. A single by Charlie Tilson scored another Redbird and kept the out-count at zero. The score was 7-6, STL.
The fun refused to stop there. Jacob Wilson decided, however, that the doubles-and-single fun was just not grand enough. He jumped on the first pitch he saw in his at-bat and slammed a salami (grand slam and first Cardinal home run of the spring), plating four RBI. Score: 11-6, STL. But wait, there’s more…
Patrick Wisdom, with two outs in the inning, couldn’t let Wilson show him up. So, he decided to send a home run over the fence, adding two RBI to his tally and two more runs to the scoreboard. Score: 13-6, STL. And, after a silent ninth inning, the game would end with the same score.
Box Score: Items of Note
Thanks in large part to the power shown in the eighth inning, the following were the ending stats from the box score of today’s game:
Tilson, CF- 4 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO, .250 AVG, .650 OPS
Wilson, 3B- 3 AB, 2 R, 1 H, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SO, .333 AVG, 1.933 OPS
Sierra, RF- 2 AB, 1 R, 1 H, 1 RBI, .500 AVG, 1.500 OPS
Wisdom, 3B- 3 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 4 RBI, .667 AVG, 2.667 OPS
On the downside of things:
Anna, 2B- 2 AB, .000 AVG, .000 OPS, 1 error
While this game was probably overlooked by some even before the game started, certainly falling behind the Wong news (sounds just awful despite how wonderful it is), and perhaps even after the game started and went for a while with little excitement, the game proved to show a good deal of what could come from these players.
Most notably, Wisdom and Wilson seem to be great talents and will contribute nicely this season for Memphis. Also of note is the fact that we saw some early struggles from Dean Anna.
From a pitching perspective, Gomber very well may pitch his way to Memphis this season and Deck McGuire projects to contribute nicely in Memphis as well. It was really, really nice to see Socolovich close the first game of the spring as I predict that that will be his role with Memphis. Shooting Oh out there with great early success will only help to bolster his confidence as a force for the Cardinals as the season approaches.
Next: St. Louis Cardinals Best/Worst Case: Matt Holliday
Let’s hope the positives of this game continue and the weaknesses are lessened moving forward. Noting this as the first game of spring, we have much left to watch and look for. But, I feel certain we can all agree that this was an exciting start. Follow me on Twitter and let’s chat about this and the other games to come!