Cardinals 6, Astros 4
The game recap of the Cardinals’ third straight win — a 6-4 victory over the Astros — can be read by clicking here. Let me also encourage you to take some time to read this piece, in which you can learn about Kyle McClellan’s efforts to raise money for an orphanage expansion in Haiti by running a half marathon in April. To go directly to McClellan’s Brace for Impact site, click here.
Manager Mike Matheny is still refraining from naming any members of his rotation — except, of course, Adam Wainwright — but right-hander Michael Wacha continues to do everything needed to solidify his spot. He was his best yet on Friday with 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched. He didn’t walk a batter and two of the three hits he allowed were groundballs that just got through the infield.
The curveball was solid. The fastball and changeup continue to be impressive. And he threw in some cutters for good measure.
“I think so,” Wacha said when asked if his command was better Friday than it had been in his two previous outings. “I was pretty happy with the no walks up there. If I can keep on continuing with that and keep on continuing to pound the strike zone and getting the first-pitch strike over, I feel like I’ll have better success.”
As much as any pitch, what has impressed the Cardinals this spring is how much Wacha looks like the guy that stood out last year with his work ethic and eagerness to learn. Instant fame can do many different things to many people. In Matheny’s opinion, it has done nothing to Wacha.
“We talk about how we see a lot about somebody when they struggle and handle those failures,” Matheny said. “But I think right now, in the world that we’re in, it’s almost more detrimental to have that early success. You saw how hard it was for a David Freese to have instant stardom from that Game 6 home run in 2011. That’s not an easy thing, and I know you’re not going to get too much pity from people, but the truth of the matter is that that’s a very hard thing for a young, single guy in this industry. I was concerned if that would be a distraction to him, but he’s the exact same guy we saw a year ago without one day in the big leagues. We just hope he continues to do that.”
After dazzling in his spring debut (two innings, four strikeouts), the results have been up-and-down for Tim Cooney in his three outings since. He gave up four more runs (three earned) on two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings on Friday. In his last start, Cooney served up five runs on six hits while recording just two outs.
“He’s working behind in counts, which can’t be what he’s done before to have the strikeouts-to-walk ratio,” Matheny said. “We’ve seen the curveball be pretty good, and I think that’s an effective pitch for him and leads to a lot of those strikeouts we’ve seen statistically. He hasn’t been throwing it for strikes very much. … He’s not in good counts, and that typically does not set you up for good things.”
That strikeout-to-walk ratio that Matheny referenced? It was 125:18 in 2013. This spring, Cooney has walked four and struck out eight.
Some final notes:
- Left field was a tough place to be on Friday with the sun causing some issues. Matt Holliday lost out to the sun on a flyball in the third inning. Stephen Piscotty replaced him there later and was tagged with two errors on one play (missed catch/fumbled recovery), but he did have a nice sliding catch as well.
- After Friday’s game, the Cardinals reassigned right-hander Sam Gaviglio to Minor League camp. Gaviglio allowed two runs on seven hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
- Jason Motte threw live batting practice back at the Cardinals’ spring complex this morning. You can read more about that in the cardinals.com notebook.
- Non-roster reliever Pat Neshek was scheduled to be on Friday’s trip but was absent due to a personal matter.
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