The St. Louis Cardinals rode the same old formula to a 1-0 opening day victory over the Cincinnati Reds yesterday at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, OH. The same formula as in Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright timely hitting and a strong bullpen. It was the first time in 60 years the Reds had been shut out on opening day.
Wainwright pitched seven innings of shutout baseball, Molina slammed a solo shot off of Johnny Cueto in the seventh inning and the combination of Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal shut the door on the Reds and any hope of a comeback. Cincinnati did have a chance however in the eight when right hander Pat Neshek opened the inning with a walk to Brandon Phillips. Siegrist, a southpaw, immediately entered the game and got 2011 MVP Joey Votto to ground in to a double play ball.
Everything seemed to be working out perfectly for Cards manager Mike Matheny. Siegrist had done the job, erased the mistake of Neshek and St. Louis was on their way to victory. Except Cards second baseman Kolten Wong promptly booted Votto’s ground ball and the Reds had two runners on with no outs and cleanup hitter Jay Bruce up. Just like that the game turned as Cincinnati was finally on the verge of breaking through in front of a sell out crowd.
That is when the old formula kicked in. The same formula that rewarded Matheny so often last year as the Cards won the National League Pennant. Siegrist got Bruce to ground out to the right side, forcing Phillips in to a rundown at third base that cost the Reds the tying run. Martinez then entered the game and got a ground out and a strikeout and that was it for the Reds in the eighth. Rosenthal struck out two in a 1-2-3 ninth and that was the ballgame.
A little drama at the end, but the same old result with the same old formula for the Cardinals. Clutch hitting, good starting pitching and a dominant bullpen.
If St. Louis was to improve this season it had to be a faster, more athletic team. General Manager John Mozeliak spent the off-season trying to shore up a defense that was adequate at best last season. Across the outfield and infield if the Cardinals could get to it they would catch it. The problem was they did not always get to it.
So Mozeliak completely changed the look of the infield without changing all the faces. Matt Carpenter moved from second base to third base, Matt Adams takes over full-time at first base and rookie Wong is the new second baseman. All three represent a significant upgrade at their position defensively.
Mozeliak also traded former hometown hero third baseman David Freese to the Los Angeles Angels for center fielder Peter Bourjous, one of the elite defenders at his position in baseball. All Bourjous did was make a running catch in the gap early in the game to help keep the Reds off the scoreboard.
The addition of Bourjos and the changes in the infield will surely make a difference as the season wears on but yesterday was about a good reminder for Matheny. There is an old formula for the Cardinals that still works. Molina, Wainwright and an a bullpen that kills rallies.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sportswriter covering the St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Today