I hadn't planned on doing a game recap from the radio feed only, but I'll give it the ol' college try. It will give me the added benefit that if I get something wrong, I can blame it on my Mike Shannon speech recognition only being in spring training form.
Today's contest brings the Luhnow-led Houston Astros to Roger Dean to take on our beloved Redbirds. The match-up makes me sorta wistful (this is the first time I've ever used this word when not quoting Dirty Work—thanks for joining me on my vocabulary-building journey, VEB). These once-great rivals will not face each other this regular season for the first time in the history of the Astros franchise.
The biggest ramification of this game in terms of the roster-building process for the Cardinals is that it was likely Joe Kelly's last pitch to nab the fifth spot in the Cardinal rotation. Manager Mike Matheny announced that Kelly had beaten out Carlos Martinez for the No. 5 starter spot after the game despite Joe coming into this game with mostly unimpressive marks including a 1-1 record on the spring with a 7.71 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP in 9.1 innings pitched.
The Astros countered with veteran journeyman Jerome Williams. He faced a lineup that we're likely to see with some regularity against right-handed pitching during the regular season. Perhaps the most interesting inclusion in this lineup is Kolten Wong in the number two spot of the order. His hot hitting has earned him some opportunities to impact games in the very first inning.
Early in the game, Kelly used a seemingly generous strike zone to attack hitters, striking out four through the first three innings and a total of five through five-plus innings. In the fourth, he pitched around a couple of walks and an error, stranding the bases loaded. He didn't give up his first hit until Jonathan Villar led off the 6th with a triple. Kelly's command and the strike zone seemed to become more erratic as the game wore on, leading to four walks in his outing. Kelly's final line: 5.0+ IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.
Jorge Rondon appeared in relief of Kelly in the sixth, inheriting a couple of runners. After retiring the first two he faced, a wild pitch allowed a run to score.
Pat Neshek allowed a walk and an RBI double in the seventh, but did have two K's that sounded impressive based on John Rooney's reactions.
Kevin Siegrist had a nice, easy 1-2-3 eighth inning.
Trevor Rosenthal was whacked by a ball off the bat of Marwin Gonzalez, but seemed to be okay. He recorded the save by retiring the only three batters he faced.
Early on, the Cardinals offense was clicking on all cylinders. Wong singled, stole a base, and scored a run in the first. Starting in the bottom half of the second, the Redbirds put some power on display. Jhonny Peralta homered to left in the second. The third inning featured dingers by Matts Adams and Holliday as well as the ever-popular Yadier Molina triple. After the big third, the Cards decided they had scored enough runs. A fifth inning Molina single and a seventh inning Shane Robinson double accounted for the rest of the offense on the day. Allen Craig, Holliday, Molina, and Peralta each recorded two hits in the win. Matt Carpenter and Jon Jay's 0-fer days dropped their spring batting averages to .200 and .167, respectively.
Mike Shannon enjoyed the game, as evidenced by his chanting "Buy A Beer- Buy a Budweiser!" He and Rooney were impressed with the SS play of Luis Mateo and unimpressed with the strike zone of home plate umpire Chris Conroy.
Shelby Miller faces Dice-K Matsuzaka and the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie tomorrow. I'd say tune in, but there doesn't seem to be any radio or TV broadcasts until Tuesday, when Carlos Martinez will get his final spring training start, opposing Jose Fernandez and the Marlins.