JUPITER, FL. (KMOV.com) – If it is important to develop good habits in spring, “today was not what we wanted to see,” said Cards’ manager Mike Matheny after a brutal 7-0 loss to the Washington Nationals.
The Redbirds made five errors, two by Matt Carpenter, and one each by Ruben Tejada, Kolten Wong and Greg Garcia. Wong’s error on a routine ground ball between his legs was particularly costly as it occurred with the infield pulled in and runners on second and third. Both scored. But Carpenter misplayed two relatively easy grounders, one each in the fifth and sixth inning. His second error came one batter after Tejada mishandled a play at short.
“That was ugly,” said Matheny. “We encourage them (Mike Leake and Matt Bowman) to make them put it on the ground. We must make plays behind them.” He said Leake could have gotten out of the three-run fourth and Bowman out of the three-run sixth if the defense had fielded the relatively routine grounders.
He was also disappointed with the Cards inability to drive in runners. The Cards had two men on in each of the first four innings but could not score a run. On the day, the Cards went 0-8 with runners in scoring position.
Leake threw 84 pitches, (54 for strikes) while fanning seven. He surrendered four runs on seven hits and was effective in spots but gave up several hard hit balls, including a bomb to Ryan Zimmerman.
“Zimmerman - in my opinion- hit a good pitch,” Leake said after the game. “It was a little too on the plate, but he did what a good hitter does to that pitch.”
Still, the new Cardinal said he had thrown pretty well, but felt inconsistent. “It was a fairly good game. I felt inconsistent. I don’t know if it was as inconsistent as I felt today. I felt slightly beat down, probably because it was the hottest day we’ve had so far and I’m not used to it. It’s a foreshadow of what we’re going to have in St. Louis so I’m actually glad we had a day like today so I could pitch just to kind of get the feel. It’s just a matter of fine-tuning a few things; making sure I’m getting the work in these next few days because after that last one it’s for real.”
Matheny said he saw a few good things in the otherwise nightmarish game, including the at-bats of Kolten Wong and the continued development of Kevin Siegrist’s curveball and changeup. Siegrist threw an effective inning, ringing up strikeouts with his new pitch.
Yadier Molina continues to move toward an opening day start, even though his offense is not quite where the Cardinals hope it will be as the season progresses. “I know his numbers are not exciting, but he is taking good swings and he’s right on pace,” Matheny said.
Still the “uncharacteristically” bad defensive play overshadowed any individual achievements Saturday. The Redbirds have made more than a dozen errors in the infield this spring. Last year they made 96 errors as a team, ranking them 11th of 15 National League teams.
The Cardinals have won one game out of their last 12, tying three times and losing the rest.