Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/06/10

Two Albert Pujols home runs masked several opening day concerns for the St. Louis Cardinals.



   Albert Pujols aside, it was far from a perfect season opener Monday for the Cardinals, even though they opened with a win.


   Relievers Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan and Ryan Franklin gave up four runs over the last three innings although they all pitched out of scrapes that could have made it worse.


   The Cardinals committed two errors in the infield and starter Chris Carpenter, who allowed just seven home runs all last season, served up two in the same inning as he battled his control in the strike zone in that inning.


   But baseball's best player had a huge day. Pujols, who hadn't hit a home run in 89 at-bats -- since he clouted two last Sept. 9 in Milwaukee -- smacked two homers among the four hits he had.


   Pujols, who also had two singles, drove in three runs and scored four and showed he is over the lower-back issues he had in spring training.


   "I don't know if you'll ever see anyone as good as him," said Carpenter, who turned in a sturdy six-inning performance.


   After his 4-for-5 day, Pujols is 17-for-36 with four homers and 13 runs batted in on Opening Day.


   "He's amazing," said manager Tony La Russa. "He got pitches to hit. Sometimes he hits pitches he shouldn't hit."


   CARDINALS 11, REDS 6: The Cardinals won on Opening Day for the first time since 2006, the last time they won the World Series, by hitting four home runs.


   1B Albert Pujols had two homers, CF Colby Rasmus had one and C Yadier Molina his first career grand slam in his first appearance since March 24 as the Cardinals set a franchise mark with four homers on Opening Day.





   --C Yadier Molina, who hadn't played since March 24 because of a strained right oblique, said he was just trying to hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning when he hit the first grand slam of his career, a drive to right field. Molina said he felt 100 percent Monday but said he would be anxious to see how he felt the next day. His grand slam was the third by a Cardinals player on Opening Day. The other two were by Mark McGwire, the Cardinals' hitting coach, and Scott Rolen, the Cincinnati third baseman who also was on hand Monday at Great American Ball Park.


   --CF Colby Rasmus, who hit a homer and drove in two runs, also saved one with a spectacular leaping catch on 3B Scott Rolen's drive ticketed for a home run in the sixth inning. "A phenomenal play," said RHP Chris Carpenter. "He's going to be fun to watch for a long time."


   --1B Albert Pujols hit two homers, giving him 42 in 142 career games against Cincinnati. He has knocked in 121 runs in those games.


   --RHP Ryan Franklin, who had a rough spring training, gave up two ninth-inning runs after entering with a seven-run lead before getting 3B Scott Rolen on a tapper to the mound. Franklin hasn't had a 1-2-3 inning since last August.


   --3B David Freese knocked in a run with a fourth-inning single but also booted a double-play ball. The rookie will bat eighth in the lineup for the foreseeable future.


   --RHP Chris Carpenter made his fourth Opening Day start for the Cardinals but first since 2007. Carpenter didn't walk anybody in six innings as he beat the Reds for the sixth straight time.


   BY THE NUMBERS: 30 -- RHP Jason Motte's new number after he had worn No. 60 in his first two seasons.


   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I hope my hitters didn't watch that exhibition." -- Hitting coach Mark McGwire after he had taken batting practice, a poor one, he thought, on the final day of spring training in Florida.






   --RHP Blake Hawksworth (sore groin) pitched one inning in the Cardinals' final exhibition game after missing a week.


   --C Yadier Molina (strained right oblique) was injured with 10 days left in spring training, but he started on opening day.



   RHP Chris Carpenter

   RHP Adam Wainwright

   RHP Brad Penny

   RHP Kyle Lohse

   LHP Jaime Garcia



   RHP Ryan Franklin (closer)

   RHP Jason Motte

   RHP Kyle McClellan

   RHP Blake Hawksworth

   RHP Mitchell Boggs

   LHP Trever Miller

   LHP Dennys Reyes



   Yadier Molina

   Jason LaRue



   1B Albert Pujols

   2B Skip Schumaker

   SS Brendan Ryan

   3B David Freese

   INF Felipe Lopez

   INF/OF Joe Mather



   LF Matt Holliday

   CF Colby Rasmus

   RF Ryan Ludwick

   OF Allen Craig

   OF Nick Stavinoha



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