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Wacha, Cardinals beat Nationals 6-2 in Final Florida Tune-up 03-29-17

Wacha continues his strong spring, but Grichuk becomes the latest injury concern

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Wacha had his final Spring tune-up against the Nationals’ getaway-day lineup. Stephen Strasburg did the same against what could potentially be the Cardinals’ opening day lineup.

1st Inning

Wacha, who posted a lowly and yet career-high 46.6 GB% in 2016, coaxed a pair of ground balls from two of the first three Nationals he faced: the first of which went for a single and the second of which became a 6-4-3 double play, featuring an impressive play by Aledmys Diaz.

Dexter Fowler led off the bottom half by smashing a ground ball to the right side. Brandon Snyder made an impressive play of his own on the ball, but fired the ball wide of Ryan Zimmerman and out of play, gifting Fowler 2nd base. After Aledmys Diaz worked a long PA that ultimately ended in a ground out advancing Fowler to 3rd, Matt Carpenter ambushed the first pitch he saw for a sac fly. 1-0 Cardinals.

2nd Inning

Matt Wieters crushed a lead off double down the right field line on a meaty fastball. After a fourth ground out and a walk, Stephen Drew ripped an RBI single to bring him home. Wacha would escape the jam by striking out the bottom 2 batters in the lineup.

Strasburg set Molina, Piscotty, and Grichuk down quickly in the bottom half, on a strikeout, line out, and nubber back to himself, respectively. 1-1 tied game.

3rd Inning

Wacha would record his fourth ground out and third strikeout to start the inning, but Zimmerman knocked his second home run of the spring on a ball to right-center that the announcers were surprised to see get out. Wacha retired Wieters on a fly out to right to end the frame.

Wong lined a single to right-center to lead off the bottom frame. Fowler then negated a failed sacrifice attempt by Wacha by sending a triple to the wall in center, scoring Wong. After a pop out by Diaz and walk by Carpenter, Jhonny Peralta brought Fowler home on a single up the middle. 3-2 Cardinals.

4th Inning

Wacha quickly retired Adam Lind on a fly out and caught Michael Taylor trying to bunt, but got himself in trouble by allowing Drew and Robles to reach via full count HBP and first-pitch single. Fortunately, Wacha was able to nip the rally by registering his fourth strike out, and concluded his afternoon.

Piscotty’s rough spring continued with a ground out to third to lead off the bottom frame. Strasburg would then retire Grichuk and Wong on fly outs to Lind, the Nationals’ own displaced first baseman trying to hack it in left field.

5th Inning

As the starters began their exodus, new Cardinals pitcher Arturo Reyes retired the Nationals quickly on a pair of fly outs to Harrison Bader, and a pop out to short left where Diaz made a good play to battle the sun and convert the out.

Jose Martinez walked and Bader singled against the Nationals’ top relief prospect, Koda Glover, who would finally get Diaz to ground into a 6-4 fielder’s choice before manager Dusty Baker opted to get his LOOGy Sammy Solis some work. Matt Carpenter would push a fly ball into the wind that Adam Lind was able to corral and nothing more, enabling Jose Martinez to walk home on the sacrifice. 4-2 Cardinals.

6th Inning

Reyes recorded his second clean inning against the middle of the Nationals’ lineup, this time inducing a line out to shortstop, and a pair of fly balls.

After Alberto Rosario was gifted a single up the middle courtesy of miscommunication by the Nationals middle infield, Vincent Jackson stepped in to make his spring training debut. Jackson, the Cardinals’ 2016 14th round pick out of Tennessee, was rudely greeted with a 4-pitch strike out from Phillips Valdez. Valdez’s competence would prove short-lived as he would next plunk Grichuk on the hand, who immediately left the game. Jose Martinez punished the inconsiderate right-hander, continuing his big spring with a double down the left field line that scored a pair. 6-2 Cardinals.

7th Inning

The newly-signed Josh Zeid, of Team Israel fame, was the next Cardinal to make his spring debut. The 30-year-old righty worked around a pair of singles to complete a scoreless debut.

Chad Huffman managed a one-out double off hard-throwing righty Derek Eitel, but would be stranded by Paul DeJong and Rosario.

8th Inning

Ryan Sherriff replaced Zeid and continued building his reputation as a future LOOGy. He would record a ground out and strike out against the left-handed batters he faced, while yielding a walk and hard line-out against the righties.

Eitel returned to set down Jackson and Wilfredo Tovar. Then Dylan Carlson stepped in, the third Cardinal of the afternoon making his spring debut. The 18-year-old 2016 #33 overall draft pick grounded out to end the inning.

9th Inning

Matt Bowman closed the game out against the only Nationals left at the stadium, striking out the ball boy, inducing a ground ball from from the owner’s grandson, and coaxing a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of the cotton candy man.

Cardinals win 6-2.

Final Notes

  • Grichuk’s status is in question after taking a 6th-inning pitch off his hand. Tests didn’t indicate a break, and he’ll have an x-ray tomorrow if it’s still hurting.
  • Wacha struck out 4 (2 against the pitcher), walked 1, and hit 1. He induced 5 ground balls, 4 fly balls, and 3 line drives.
  • The Cardinals made none of those frustrating outs on the base paths, which has been all-too-common this spring.
  • Yadier Molina exited the game in the 4th inning, but not to meet Mo and sign a contract extension.
  • This was the Cardinals’ last game in Florida this spring. They play in Memphis and Springfield the next 2 days to conclude spring training.