The St. Louis Cardinals opened the season in a competitive fashion in Arizona, splitting the first two games of the series, before dropping the final contest in a long, 16 inning affair last night. It was fight throughout with a Diamondbacks club that shows a lot of potential, but still is a frustrating effort, because of some of the details that led to the verdict. And while the season is young, there are a few things to pull away from the series, inside of the box score. Here is a wrap on the series with three details from inside the series to walk away with:
1. Trevor Rosenthal learns a lesson: One day it’s more than enough, the next day it isn’t. The temptation is real to go after guys with pure fastballs at any point when your stuff is as good as Rosenthal’s. However one of the lessons that will be learned this year is that it’s not about how hard he throws it, rather it’s where he throws it that hard. A day after blazing through a 13-pitch, two strikeout performance in Tuesday’s win, the next day wasn’t as kind.
In the course of surrendering three consecutive hits, which pulled the Diamondbacks even in the bottom of the eighth inning, Rosenthal didn’t struggle with his velocity (as he kept every pitch at 96 mph and up), but he kept the decisive deliveries high, and two veteran bats in Martin Prado and Aaron Hill made him pay. Yet he showed that he can learn on the run, as he began to change locations with regularity the next two at-bats to Miguel Montero and Paul Goldschmidt and worked his way out the inning. While his potential and heat check digits will be exciting, the road for Rosenthal meeting his potential will be lined with him learning to trust the method as much as his power.
2. Jaime stepped up. After letting the first game get away from Adam Wainwright and Fernando Salas, the Cardinals dropped their first contest of the year. Yet the troubled lefty delivered a solid effort in the subsequent game to support the staff ace, and help the club pull out a solid victory. Jaime Garcia threw a very solid 5.2 innings, surrendering one run and two hits in route to his and the club’s first win of the year. It’s early of course, but when combined with his solid spring effort (2.48 ERA in 29 innings over six starts) along with the encouraging road start, a promising rebound campaign could be in store.
3. Allen Craig is a gamer. It was an interesting series for Craig. In what could become a familiar scenario for him throughout the year, he started the first two games of the series at first base, and then shifted to right in game three to spell Carlos Beltran. But what truly showed what Craig is all about was the bottom-top 2nd/3rd inning stretch he had. After taking a rough slide into foul territory in pursuit of a foul ball, and in the process bloodying his knee through his pants, he noticeably limped through the outfield. Yet for the final out of the inning, with his banged up knee, was forced to break back and make a tough over the head catch to save a run and end the inning.
Back at the plate shortly afterwards, he ripped an RBI double down the left field line to bring in Jon Jay and put the team ahead. He scored on the next pitch as the second run brought in via a Yadier Molina base hit. That combination of flexibility and grit goes a long way in proving his mettle on the field, as well as inspiring the club.
Where to Next: San Francisco for weekend series vs. Giants (2-1), who are on a quite notable 3-game winning streak against the Cards from last season’s National League Championship Series.