Tag: Jordan Walden

Joey Votto

Settling the Score: Friday’s results


The Reds made a bit of history on Friday night against the Cardinals as they won in their final at-bat for the fourth consecutive game to start the season. They’re the first team to do so since 1912. They are a comfortable 4-0 to start the season. The other four NL Central teams have yet to hit two wins. In fact, the Brewers are winless in their first four games.

Despite Joey Votto’s best effort — he hit a pair of two-run home runs off of John Lackey — the Reds entered the bottom of the eighth tied at 4-4. With one out, Billy Hamilton drew a walk and promptly stole second base for his seventh stolen base of the season in as many tries. With first base open, Votto was intentionally walked. Hamilton then advanced to third base on a wild pitch, and Votto stole second base. Todd Frazier lifted a Jordan Walden offering to right field, bringing Hamilton in from third base for the go-ahead run. Aroldis Chapman took the mound in the top of the ninth and worked around a one-out single to earn his second save of the season.

Elsewhere in baseball: the Red Sox outlasted the Yankees in 19 innings; the Tigers finally yielded their first earned run of the season; Mark Buehrle won his 200th career game; Justin Morneau homered for his 1,500th career hit and his Rockies are a surprising 4-0 to start the season.

Your Friday box scores:

Blue Jays 12, Orioles 5

Cubs 1, Rockies 5

Astros 5, Rangers 1

Nationals 1, Phillies 4

Twins 6, White Sox 0

Cardinals 4, Reds 5

Tigers 8, Indians 4

Mets 3, Braves 5

Red Sox 6, Yankees 5 (19 innings)

Pirates 6, Brewers 2

Royals 4, Angels 2

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 4 (10 innings)

Mariners 0, Athletics 12

Giants 0, Padres 1

Rays 9, Marlins 10 (10 innings)

Jason Heyward, Adam Wainwright lead Cardinals to a 3-0 win over the Cubs on Opening Night

Adam Wainwright

Jason Heyward went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and a stolen base in his Cardinals debut and Adam Wainwright blanked the Cubs over six innings in a 3-0 victory on Opening Night in Chicago on Sunday. The Cubs had plenty of opportunities to score, but went hitless in 13 at-bats with runners on scoring position.

The Cardinals took an early lead with a one-out double to right field in the first inning by Heyward, followed by a Matt Holliday single, also to right field. Heyward doubled again in the third and singled in the fifth, but was stranded both times. The Cardinals scored once in the second inning on a Matt Carpenter RBI single and again in the fifth inning on another Holliday RBI single to right field to take a 3-0 lead. The Cardinals’ 1-through-3 hitters combined to go 7-for-14 with two doubles, three RBI, and two runs scored on the evening.

Cubs starter Jon Lester, making his debut with his new club after signing a six-year, $155 million contract in December, lasted only 4 1/3 innings. On 89 pitches, the lefty allowed eight hits, walked two, and struck out six. Phil Coke relieved Lester with runners on second and third and one out, sandwiching an intentional walk around two strikeouts to exit the frame.

Wainwright, meanwhile, threw 101 pitches over his six innings of work, yielding five hits and no walks while striking out six. The right-hander had minor elbow surgery in October and dealt with a minor abdominal injury shortly after pitchers and catches reported in February, but looked completely healthy facing the Cubs. He unleashed a handful of devastating curves during the course of the evening.

Once the starters were out of the game, both teams’ bullpens threw up zeroes the rest of the way. On the Cubs’ side, Coke, Jason Motte, Neil Ramirez, Pedro Strop, and Hector Rondon combined to allow just two hits and two walks while striking out six in 4 2/3 innings. For the Cardinals, Carlos Martinez, Jordan Walden, and Trevor Rosenthal combined to allow no hits and two walks while striking out four in three innings. Rosenthal earned the save by striking out the side in the ninth inning.

In non-baseball-related matters at Wrigley Field, which is still undergoing renovations, vendors reportedly ran out of hot dog buns. Arguably more importantly, there were reported issues with the restrooms as well.

The two clubs will enjoy an off-day on Monday — Opening Day for everyone else — before resuming the series on Tuesday, when Lance Lynn of the Cardinals opposes Jake Arrieta of the Cubs.

Welcome back, baseball! We missed you so, so much.

2015 Preview: St. Louis Cardinals

wainwright getty

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2015 season. Next up: The St. Louis Cardinals.

The Big Question: What will the Cardinals get from Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha?

Adam Wainwright posted a career-best 2.38 ERA in 227 innings last season, guiding the Cardinals to their second straight division crown and a fourth straight appearance in the NLCS. But he acknowledged to fans and reporters at the club’s annual Winter Warm-Up in January that he didn’t have the strength to open a can of soda by the end of the 2014 postseason.

Since returning from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery in April 2012, the 33-year-old Wainwright has logged more innings (playoffs included) than any other pitcher in baseball. His right elbow needed a cleanup procedure back in late October and Wainwright had to be whisked away from Cardinals camp this spring shortly after arriving because he strained an abdominal muscle while trying to return a 45 lb. weight to a rack.

The guy is a workhorse — with the ribbons and medals and flowered saddles of a top-flight racehorse — but there are flashing neon signs that point to a full-on breakdown. Beyond the health stuff, look at his tumbling strikeout rate: Waino finished with a 7.1 K/9 in 2014 after posting an 8.2 K/9 in 2013 and an 8.3 K/9 in 2012.

And then there’s Michael Wacha, who appeared to be emerging as a co-ace to Wainwright in 2013 when he registered a 2.78 ERA and 1.098 WHIP over his first 64 2/3 major league innings before becoming the second-youngest player to be awarded NLCS MVP. Wacha had a 2.79 ERA through his first 15 starts last year until a stress reaction in his throwing shoulder put him on the shelf in mid-June. The 23-year-old right-hander returned in early September, but he did not look like the same dude and he eventually served up the meatball that ended the Cardinals’ 2014 postseason run. (Cardinals fans might not want to click on that link).

Wainwright and Wacha are both expected to be healthy, contributing members of the Cardinals’ rotation when the 2015 regular season begins and Wainwright will probably even get the nod on Opening Night against the Cubs, but you’d have to be wearing Cardinal-red-colored glasses to project 200 innings out of each of them.

What else is going on?

  • For all the doom and gloom presented in the paragraphs above, St. Louis is equipped with the kind of rotation depth to navigate around the loss of a front-line starter (though losing two would be a dagger for any team). Carlos Martinez, Jaime Garcia, and Marco Gonzales are battling for one spot this spring and they all carry some level of promise. Martinez doesn’t have sparkling numbers in the major leagues, but he’s a hard-throwing 23-year-old righty with a nasty array of breaking pitches. Garcia is claiming that he finally feels healthy after being limited to a total of 16 starts between 2013-2014 due to chronic shoulder discomfort. The left-hander boasts a 3.50 ERA in 594 2/3 career innings and he has a 2.91 career ERA at pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium. Gonzales, the 19th overall pick in the 2013 MLB Amateur Draft, owns a 2.48 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 8.7 K/9 in 145 1/3 minor league innings and has been the sharpest of the three in the 2015 Grapefruit League. One will slide into the rotation, one will probably head to the bullpen, and the Cardinals will likely stick the other guy at Triple-A Memphis as their “next man up.”
  • Lance Lynn and John Lackey are pretty good bets for 200-inning seasons with sub-3.75 ERAs. We could see a St. Louis rotation of Lynn, Lackey, Martinez, Garcia, and Gonzales at some point in 2015. That isn’t horrible, but it’s probably not a championship-level group either. The Cardinals have advanced to the NLCS in nine of the last 15 seasons — 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.
  • Oscar Taveras was supposed to take over as the Cardinals’ starting right fielder in 2015, but he killed himself and his girlfriend Edilia Arvelo when he wrapped his car around a tree while driving drunk in the Dominican Republic last October 26. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak moved quickly to bring in a replacement, acquiring outfielder Jason Heyward and setup man Jordan Walden from the Braves on November 17 for right-handers Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins. Heyward is expected to bat second for the Cardinals, behind Matt Carpenter and in front of Matt Holliday. It’s a great fit for the 25-year-old Heyward, who is due to become a free agent next winter. He registered an .849 OPS (131 OPS+) as a rookie in 2010 and he slugged 27 home runs as a 22-year-old in 2012. St. Louis will be hoping that Heyward — a terrific defender — can finally put it all together offensively, even if this only turns out to be a one-year rental.
  • St. Louis finished 23rd in the majors last season in runs scored. Teams like the Mets, Astros, and Marlins had more productive offenses. But that’s what happens when you don’t get a breakout year from any of your hitters and your luck with runners in scoring position dries out. On paper, the Cardinals’ lineup for 2015 looks as lethal as any lineup in baseball. Matt Carpenter takes great at-bats at the top. Jason Heyward can do it all. Matt Holliday still has some pop left in his 35-year-old bat. Matt Adams should be ready for a step forward in his age-26 season. Jhonny Peralta tallied 21 homers and 75 RBI last summer and led the team in WAR. Yadier Molina, an all-time-great defensive catcher, has slashed .307/.357/.460 over the past three years. Jon Jay put up a .372 on-base percentage in 2014. And second baseman Kolten Wong carries 20-homer, 20-steal potential into what will essentially be his sophomore campaign.

Prediction: If the Cards keep Wainwright and Wacha away from the disabled list, they’ll run away with the National League Central and march to their first 100-win season since 2005. If they lose one or both of those arms, the Redbirds will have some stiff competition in a division that doesn’t really have a bad team. I’ll guess Wainwright and Wacha combine for around 280 innings — just enough for first place in the NL Central.

Jason Heyward happy for a fresh start with the Cardinals

Jason Heyward

The Braves traded outfielder Jason Heyward along with reliever Jordan Walden to the Cardinals in December in exchange for starter Shelby Miller and minor league pitcher Tyrell Jenkins. Though Heyward had been productive in his five seasons with the Braves, he didn’t quite live up to the expectations he brought with him as a 14th-overall pick in the 2007 draft.

As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports, Heyward thinks that his new home in St. Louis is “the best thing that could have happened to me.”

“I spent five years at this level with one organization and I still don’t know if I’ve seen the best of myself,” Heyward said. “I would say a fresh start would be good. I feel like that was kind of self-explanatory. Look at it. I do feel that this is the best thing that could have happened to me as far as playing this game, getting a new start somewhere else. Absolutely.”

Heyward also has the tough job of replacing prospect Oscar Taveras, who died in an October car accident in the Dominican Republic, in right field.

Heyward, at times a target of derision among Braves fans and pundits, batted .262/.351/.429 with 84 home runs and 292 RBI in 2,819 plate appearances. He can become a free agent after the season and has previously stated interest in discussing a contract extension with the Cardinals.