Cardinals 11, Mets 4

Jenifer Langosch/MLB.com

The chants came from behind home plate and seemed to get louder each time Yadier Molina came to bat. The group of hecklers wasn’t all that large, but their “Over. Rated.” chorus could be heard across the ballpark. Molina heard it. So did manager Mike Matheny, who said afterward that he thought “they’re just making him mad enough that he’s going to hit a homer.”

Indeed, Molina did. On cue, he sent a ball over the right-field wall. It was pretty perfect.

Said Matheny afterward: “He handled it with much more class than I did because I looked up there. I love that stuff. There are certain guys that you just bring the best out of them when you try stuff like that. I saw that one coming.”

Molina’s homer was one of three the Cardinals hit on the afternoon. Pete Kozma crushed a fourth-inning pitch from Randy Fontanez for a grand slam. It was especially impressive given that Kozma’s shot went against the wind gusting in from left field. He nearly hit another homer to left later in the game and hit a hard line-drive to right that was snagged for an out. Kozma continues to have one of the strongest springs of anyone on this club.

***

The medical updates weren’t all bad for a change on Tuesday. David Freese, as reported this morning, will start the season on the DL (read more here). But Carlos Beltran played six and a half innings on Tuesday without any glaring movement issues. His right toe is going to continue to hurt, but as long as Beltran can tolerate the pain, he plans to play through it.

Matt Holliday was scratched from the lineup just before game time with left side tightness, but he downplayed any concern that this is a serious issue. Matheny did, too. You can read more on Holliday’s prognosis here, but the good news is that he could be back in the lineup as early as tomorrow.

Speaking of Holliday, I hope you enjoy this feature story that goes into depth about the swing work that Holliday did with his brother, Josh, over the winter. It’s a story about relationships, yes, but I also hope you’ll take from it just how much work Holliday puts into being among the best at his craft.

***

Adam Wainwright was pleased with his six-inning outing on Tuesday, which featured a much more efficient ending than start. As you watch Wainwright begin his regular-season work, keep an eye on his changeup. Obviously, his fastball-curveball combo will continue to be what he relies upon most, but Wainwright has been working hard on his changeup all spring and there were clear improvements with it.

Just imagine if Wainwright can turn it into an above-average pitch and add it to his mix.

“It’s coming along,” Wainwright said afterward. “It was terrible early in spring training. It was embarrassing. You’ve got to just throw it. You can’t baby it in there. A big thing to me is everything needs to look exactly the same as your fastball. I was so caught up in the spin of the pitch that my arm swing was not correct and my arm action wasn’t strong enough. I was pushing it, babying it in there, and all of a sudden the spin messed up, too. Then I just completely got out of whack with it.

“I’ve just really been working hard on it in practice. You have to believe in it. You’re not going to throw anything effectively if you don’t believe in it.”

***

Jaime Garcia gets the start tomorrow against the Nationals (12:05 p.m. CT). It’ll be his last start before taking the ball for the second game of the season. Also expected to pitch in the game is reliever Randy Choate, who hopes that a conversation he had with Cal Eldred on Monday helps get his spring back on track. Read more about that conversation here.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB

4 Comments

Terrific piece on Holliday. The personal stories are the ones I really love reading the most and in an age with so much sabermetrics, WAR, stats, etc… I think a lot of people lose sight that we are watching human beings and not robots in a great game. I know I like feedback in my job so I thought I’d stop by and send a little message.

Jenifer,
Great article on Matt Holiday and his quest to improve.
You keep up the good work, as well.

Great job, Jenifer, as usual.

Just a side issue, about Freese. It bothers me that he is diving into the stands for a ball, especially with his history of injuries. Maybe Matheny should order him to stop, though I guess that ‘s easier said that done.

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