Cardinals 10, Astros 2

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The Astros looked as out of sorts as many expect they’ll be during their first year in the American League… but it was only their second game of the Grapefruit League season, so we won’t assume anything just yet.

That said, the Cardinals had five players — Allen Craig, Matt Holliday, David Freese, Shane Robinson and Pete Kozma — tally two RBIs off a combined six Houston pitchers. Only one of those Astros pitchers escaped his outing unscathed; that was former Cardinal C.J. (formerly, Chuckie) Fick.

Speaking of former Cardinals, they were all over the field today: Tyler Greene, Brett Wallace and Rick Ankiel were all in Houston’s starting lineup.

***

If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you enjoy today’s cardinals.com feature on Jason Motte (click here to read). As I was talking to Motte last week about his contract and the impact of it, he kept shifting the conversation to the other experiences he had in the offseason. By the end of our chat, I thought it would be fitting to show you a different side of a pitcher who is often only known for strikeouts and saves.

Speaking of Motte, he had a clean first appearance on Monday. He retired all three batters he faced.

***

The Cardinals were strong on the pitching side Monday, beginning with Adam Wainwright. He was the focus of today’s notebook on cardinals.com, so I won’t rehash much about his outing here. Wainwright pitched 2 2/3 innings (instead of his scheduled two) because he was so efficient early. Manager Mike Matheny’s plans to extend Wainwright, though, were nearly derailed by the Cardinals long bottom half of the second.

As the inning progressed, Matheny had Seth Maness start to warm up in the bullpen. Afterward, Matheny said Maness would have started the third if the Astros had slowed the pace even more by making a pitching change. He had no interest in having Wainwright return to pitch if he had been sitting around for too long.

***

Speaking of Maness, he only continues to catch eyes. He relieved Wainwright with two on and two out in the third on Monday and notched a strikeout to end the threat.

“I love doing that, seeing how they respond to tough situations,” Matheny said. “He was cool when I went out there. He was ready to do his thing and obviously did a nice job.”

Maness was the Cardinals’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. In 169 2/3 innings, Maness struck out 112 while walking only 10.

“He’s been impressive all spring,” Matheny said. “He’s got a real good feel for pitching. It’s fun to catch guys like that and that’s one of the things Yadi was talking about, how he was hitting the glove with whatever pitch.”

***

A few other notes: Rafael Furcal took some swings left-handed during batting practice today. He had been swinging only from the right side for the last few days. … Matt Adams (sore left knee) sat out of workouts for a second straight day. … Matheny announced that Jake Westbrook will start on Thursday; Joe Kelly gets Friday’s start. … Michael Wacha will make his next appearance on Wednesday, when he follows starter Lance Lynn.

***

The Cardinals play in Fort Myers on Tuesday against the Red Sox (first pitch: 12:35 p.m. CT). The following pitchers are scheduled to appear: Jaime Garcia, Maikel Cleto, Randy Choate, Victor Marte, Jorge Rondon, Marc Rzepczynski and Eduardo Sanchez.

I’m off tomorrow, but your old friend Matthew Leach will be out in Fort Myers to give you all the news. The blog will return with fresh content on Wednesday.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

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