Diamondbacks top Cardinals in 16-inning marathon

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No one told Josh Collmenter and Mitchell Boggs that it’s too early in the season for games to be lasting past 3 a.m.

It took nearly 5 1/2 hours, but the Diamondbacks edged the Cardinals 10-9 in 16 innings Wednesday to claim two out of three in the opening series in Arizona. Cliff Pennington singled in Jason Kubel against a fatigued Fernando Salas to end it.

Salas was working into a third inning for just the third time in his career. The winning pitcher for Arizona, Josh Collmenter, pitched five innings out of the pen.

The Cardinals were ahead four times in the game, but never could make a lead stick. They were up 4-1 in the fifth, 7-5 in the sixth, 8-7 in the eighth and 9-8 in the 12th. Trevor Rosenthal and Mitchell Boggs both took blown saves for the club. Boggs, who is acting closer with Jason Motte sidelined, blew his chance in the 12th.

Gerardo Parra, Martin Prado, Paul Goldschmidt and Pennington all had three hits apiece for the Diamondbacks. Parra, Martin Prado and Goldschmidt homered.

The Cardinals got a scare in the contest when Allen Craig, making his first outfield start of the year, injured a knee in a wall collision in right, but he was able to stay in. He finished the game back at first base.

Daniel Descalso had four hits for the Cardinals.

While the offense was very good, the obvious key for the Diamondbacks tonight was that they were never forced to turn to Heath Bell out of the pen. Collmenter was able to go five innings after throwing as many as four in a game this spring. Bell would have followed him to the mound, but the Diamondbacks wanted to stay away from him after he gave up two homers, retired just one of the six batters he faced and ruined a perfectly good relationship on Tuesday.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.