Cardinals' starter and staff ace Chris Carpenter worked around a first inning leadoff triple and threw four scoreless innings, extending his scoreless inning streak to eight innings this spring. Carpenter's outing was good news for St. Louis fans because the Cardinals are 67-29 (.698 win%) in his starts over the past five seasons. Carpenter threw 46 pitches Thursday, 28 for strikes, as he continues to make progress in preparation of being available in the rotation when the regular season begins.
Josh Kinney, who saw action last season for first time since ‘06 after missing entire ‘07 & most of ‘08 seasons recovering from "Tommy John" surgery, is in the running for the closer's job or at least as a member of the bullpen committee. Thursday Kinney shut out the Sox side in order, in the ninth, with the score tied at 2-2. Kinney struck out the first and third batters he faced, getting the second hitter to ground out meekly to Joe Thurston at second.
Third baseman Joe Mather, playing in the outfield against Boston, hit a walk-off home run, his first of the spring, to propel the Cardinals past the Red Sox. Mather, still learning to play the hot corner, hasn't let his hitting suffered this spring in the meantime. Mather is hitting .313 and leading the majors with 13 RBIs. Infielder Joe Thurston had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Center fielder Rick Ankiel drove in the other run for the Cardinals.
Colby Rasmus did not play for the third straight day, nursing a sore hamstring muscle. The Cardinals top prospect is slated to start in game one of a split-squad doubleheader against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Despite missing three straight games, Colby is still tied with Skip Schumaker with the most team at-bats this spring with 33. Colby who is still trying to make the team out of spring training, is hitting just .242, with no home runs and only two RBIs. It's possible he could start the year at Memphis, something that I have supported this winter and through spring training to date.
DID YOU KNOW?
Did you know, the pitcher with the most innings pitch by a Cardinal pitcher this spring, isn't Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Kyle Lohse, Todd Wellemeyer or Joel Pineiro, it's Blake Hawksworth, who has pitched four games, including one start for a total of 10.2 innings, posting a record of 0-0 with a 4.41 ERA. Of note is, Blake has struck out 10 battters, while walking only three. When he's on his game, nobody looks any better than Hawksworth. He was the Cardinals Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2006, as he combined to go 11-4 with a 2.92 ERA over 27 starts. If he can stay healthy, he should be able to duplicate the kind of season he had back in 06.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Acting second baseman, Skip Schumaker has made four errors through his first ten games, (51 innings) this spring and people are already calling for his head and the end of La Russa's ill advised experiment. Here's my take, get off of Schumaker's back and let him play at second base through the end of spring training and the first month of the season, before making a final assessment. I was against this experiment from day one, but since it's taking place, it's only fair to give Skip at least a couple of months to prove he can handle it or not. Dan Uggla, the second baseman for the Florida Marlins, has also made four errors this spring, in eight games, just 43 innings. I don't hear anyone wanting to throw Uggla under the bus. Of course Uggla is a second baseman by trade, he has much more range and has turned seven double-plays this spring compared to Schumakers one DP, but my point is still, it isn't fair to not give Schumaker more of a chance to prove himself.
NOTES AND QUOTES
Righthander Adam Ottavino returned to camp Thursday after Team Italy has been eliminated from the WBC. The former first round draft pick is slated to start the season at Double-A Springfield.
Jose Oquendo's Puerto Rico team won Pool D Wednesday and now advance to Round 2 at Dolphin Stadium, where they will play the U.S. team on Saturday
Outfielder Chris Duncan, who had surgery last August to repair a herniated cervical disk in his neck, appears to be cutting the bat loose as well as he ever has, or at least since 2006-07, when he had 43 homers in 655 at-bats.
The Cardinals have a split-squad doubleheader on Friday, with a 12:05 p.m. CT game against the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., followed by a 6:05 p.m. game against the Orioles in Jupiter. Kyle McClellan is the scheduled starting pitcher for the Cardinals in the first game and Joel Pineiro will start the nightcap.
Here are the tentative lineups for Friday's day/night double header:
1:05 Game at Fort Lauderdale vs. Baltimore
SP Kyle McClellan
SP Joel Pineiro
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