Westbrook Struggles with Command in Rough Day

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their second consecutive home game to open the season in an ugly fashion, giving up 11 runs. Starter Jake Westbrook was tagged for eight.

St. Louis – Jake Westbrook put his outing Saturday afternoon rather bluntly.

"It wasn't pretty," the right-hander said.

Making his first start of the season, Westbrook allowed eight runs, six hits and an eye-opening five walks as the Cardinals lost to the San Diego Padres, 11-3.

Westbrook couldn't finish a nightmare fifth inning in which he allowed three hits and two walks, including a bases-loaded walk to Ryan Ludwick after intentionally walking Brad Hawpe to load the bases, before he was pulled from the game.

Six runs scored in the inning, five of which were charged to Westbrook and one to Jason Motte, who also walked in a run with the bases loaded after intentionally walking the batter before.

It was a struggle all game for Westbrook, who needed 51 pitches to finish two innings.

"I would get ahead and couldn't put guys away and end up walking guys and just put ourselves in a bad situation," Westbrook said. "It just kind of got away from me in the fifth. I just wasn't very good."

"I can't explain it, other than I just can't make a pitch when I need to. They fouled some balls off, I throw a ball, they foul a couple more balls off and then I end up walking a guy or get it 3-2 and end up throwing eight to ten pitches a hitter. Even that first inning I felt like I threw the ball well and the next thing I know I threw 25 pitches."

Saturday looked like much of what the Cardinals saw from Westbrook in Spring Training. The right-hander struggled with high pitch counts throughout the spring, allowing 38 hits in 24 1/3 innings and posting a 4.44 ERA.

Westbrook's lack of command was an issue Saturday just as it was in Florida. He struggled to throw strikes with his sinker, walking the third-most batters of his career. He walked one in the first inning, two in the second and two in the fifth. Four of the five batters he walked came around to score.

"It's frustrating, but again one of those things where I learn from it and get better," Westbrook said. "I would try to make a pitch and it would be a ball and then they would foul off a couple pitches and the next thing I know I have 3-2. It just wasn't a very good day.

"I need to be more aggressive and trust my stuff in the zone early on in the counts and just continue on with that aggressiveness early on in the count. …I'm not that guy you saw today."

Manager Tony La Russa said he and pitching coach Dave Duncan saw some things with Westbrook that they believe will help him for his next start but declined to expand on what they were publicly.

Westbrook will have an extra day of rest for his next start, which should come Friday night in San Francisco.

"He just wasn't right at times," La Russa said. "But he's healthy and he's working and he just needs to zero in. He made enough good pitches to be excited.

"I thought he built up during the spring and was feeling better about things. He made some good pitches today, but all of a sudden, some uncharacteristic walks and he was missing the zone by quite a bit. That's not him when he's sharp. It was a struggle in some parts. That one inning was a big difference."

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