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Spring Training Recap 3/26/14: Washington Nationals vs St. Louis Cardinals

Adam Wainwright faced Gio Gonzalez in a classic dueling ace matchup where the Cardinals won 3-2

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Hello. Let me introduce myself. Out of the ashes of the Cards Fan in Chitown arose Dr. Howl. This happened a while ago now in case you missed it, and Viva El Birdos has made even more changes to its identity than I have since then (but then again, people tell me I never change, so, I don't know). Anyway, if you frequent this site, you know me. I've been around since early 2008 and have made thousands of comments and who knows, maybe a hundred fanposts? And I'll even be at VEB Day again for the third time!

But enough about me, this is about spring training and my trial run as game re-capper. I must admit, I have my work cut out for me, since the game recaps I've seen so far have been done very very well (and I look forward to reading them, especially on nights I somehow miss a game). I do catch most of the games though, and it will be a challenge to fulfill my usual Friday night time slot, but this should be a rather fun night to cover as a recap writer and hanging out in the gamethreads (I'll probably need a substitute every once in a while though).

I'll talk about the gamethread, VEBeer, and, probably, some weird music, as I am wont to do (sometimes I play music over the game on Friday nights). And I will do my best to cover the actual game as well, of course!

This particular matchup is brought to us by Dan and Ricky. Dan gushes about the team even before the game starts, which makes me a little nervous (don't jinx the season, Dan!). I have already tuned out Ricky for the most part, but I'm sure he will drop us a few pearls of "wisdom" that I might catch here and there.

The most notable part of the first inning is that Bryce Harper strikes out vs. Wainwright, and is already not happy about it. Dan says, "Hey now, he's already in midseason form!". We will see later in the game that perhaps someone should let Bryce know that the season has not actually started yet.

Matt Carpenter starts the game off by lining out to the pitcher. Dan and Ricky wonder if the man works too hard. I guess maybe he should sleep in a little bit? I'm not sure what they are getting at. Peralta batting second, singles and gets on. Jhonny batting second seems to be a possible regularity for the season... not sure that I agree with it, but it's better than other options.

Matt Holliday looked a little lost in the first, but then Craig finds a hole and up comes Yadi. In a pretty lengthy at bat, Yadier Molina prevails vs Gio Gonzalez and puts a couple of runs on the board with a broken bat single.

Adam Wainwright is already looking in midseason form. One thing that Ricky mentioned that piqued my interest that I had not consciously thought about before is how compact Wainwright's mechanics are for a very tall pitcher. At 6'7", he could be really gangly and all over the place. But instead he is very minimalist and controlled. It also helps, I think, to disguise when that nasty curve is coming. Which is key, of course. Once a batter can predict in any way what pitch is coming, all bets are off.

Wainwright made short order of the side, except for a hit batsmen. That curveball is looking insane already. Waino is cruisin', even retiring the bushy beast, Jayson Werth, with a man on base. I must admit taking Adam Wainwright for granted during the offseason, with all the exciting young arms on the team. But there are few pitchers more fun to watch in all of MLB.

In the bottom of the 3rd, the Cardinals score the rest of their runs for the day, which is all they'd need. Allen Craig legs out a botched DP, and has a scary moment where it appears that his elbow gets hurt as someone hurled a baseball at it, inadvertently... but he appears to be all right. Yadier Molina puts another hit and RBI under his belt, albeit unofficial spring training RBI, but still a nice piece of opportunistic hitting. He supplied all three RBI for the day.

The announcers seem to think there is something to Matheny catching David Aardsma in the past, who is the Cardinals newest acquisition. They bring it up a few times, anyway. I kind of hope there is nothing to this, because he seems unnecessary to the team. I'd rather see a younger pitcher get a chance (and it seems like it would be favoritism). Whatever reason he was signed, his projections look completely useless to the team.

In the 4th inning, Bryce Harper gets kicked out of the game due to complaining vociferously in a spring training game. Gotta say, I can't remember this happening before. So that's kinda neat in a novel way. The situation becomes even more silly when the Nationals manager gets out of the dugout and talks to the umps. Cmon now.

Did I mention how good Wainwright's curve looked today? Also looking good at the plate.

Gio Gonzalez is locked in by the 5th inning and retires Peralta and Holliday with relative ease. Allen Craig is looking dialed in already and draws a walk... and I have hopes that he will play a full season finally! Gonzalez is able to get Yadi out this inning, which I'm sure was a big relief for Gio.

Aardsma looked really awful. His pitches are all over the place vs the dangerous Werth. He then turned it around and made short order of Hairston. Despite this twist of fate, I still have zero confidence in the guy. He does manage to get out of the inning pretty much harmlessly, but that's probably a bad thing (then again, Aardsma is signed to a minor league deal, so I am probably making a big deal out of nothing).

To start out the 7th, Matt Carpenter makes a fantastic diving play to record an out. Kevin Siegrist is having himself a stellar spring training, and after a very effective outing today his spring training ERA is 1.13, which is exactly the same as Trevor Rosenthal but from the left side.

As I am limited on time and in the middle of a move from Avondale to Logan Square, I must wrap this up! It is already completely out of hand. But there was a lot to talk about and this was a really good game. Carlos Martinez was not as effective today, but this gave Rosenthal a good chance to close out a really tight game. Trevor threw a really wicked changeup to strike out McLouth. The longer-haired-than-usual Rosenthal gave up a triple with 2 outs, but remained in control to earn the save.

The Cardinals play the Marlins yet again tomorrow at noon. Then Friday the unfortunately un-televised fun will be Memphis Redbirds vs the big league club. And then that's all the training that's left for the spring. The regular season starts Monday vs the Reds at 3:10pm. I suppose I'll be able to catch the end of the game after work, if I'm lucky! Thanks for reading my trial run, I'll try and do better next Friday and make it more entertaining.