Cardinals Major League Notebook: 04/01/11

Ryan Franklin reacts to his blown save

The St. Louis Cardinals lost their opener on Thursday as Albert Pujols had a day to forget, going 0-for-5 including grounding into three double plays. Ryan Franklin blew the save with two out in the ninth and the defense and baserunning were shaky.

 

The Cardinals did some good things Thursday. But they did enough that wasn't good enough, and they gave away a game they should have won, falling to the Padres 5-3 in 11 innings.

Shortstop Ryan Theriot, making his Cardinals debut, fumbled a bouncing throw from right fielder Jon Jay in the 11th inning and then threw high to the plate as one San Diego run scored and another was set up.

Three-time Most Valuable Player Albert Pujols, a .472 hitter for 10 previous Opening Days, rapped into three double plays and fouled out with a runner at third and one out. He ripped one ball particularly hard, but it was caught at the warning track in the eighth inning.

Left fielder Matt Holliday had three hits, including a tiebreaking homer in the eighth inning. But Holliday got caught off second in the sixth when a baserunning gambit went awry and the Padres tricked the Cardinals with right-hander Tim Stauffer making an inside move to second.

Also, Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker had the ball knocked out of his glove on a steal attempt by Ryan Ludwick in the fifth inning, setting up a San Diego run.

Still, Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin, though hit hard by the first two batters in the San Diego ninth, was one out away from the save when Cameron Maybin swatted a 417-foot, game-tying homer to center.

Bryan Augenstein, the sixth Cardinals pitcher, suffered the loss in his Cardinals debut, giving up both runs in the 11th. Jason Motte and Mitchell Boggs, both important parts of the Cardinals' bullpen last year, didn't get into the game.

 

Link to boxscore

 

NOTES AND QUOTES

RHP Chris Carpenter worked seven prime innings, giving up just two hits and two runs. He struck out four and walked two while throwing 98 pitches, 57 for strikes. But he took himself to task for letting a cutter get too far over the plate when he was trying to pitch around Padres C Nick Hundley in the fifth inning, and Hundley hit a run-scoring double with the pitcher coming up next.

RHP Ryan Franklin, who hadn't blown a save at home since Sept. 19, 2009 - a stretch of 15 straight conversions - said he didn't think San Diego CF Cameron Maybin's game-tying homer in the ninth inning was going to go out. But Franklin said, "I'm not going to let one game affect me. I'm not going to let this one game, one pitch, bother me for the rest of the year. I'm not worried."

In a game in which the Cardinals' bullpen generally pitched well, RHP Bryan Augenstein suffered the loss in his Cardinals debut. Augenstein, who was victimized by SS Ryan Theriot's error, allowed three singles, but two of them were ground balls. "He got the loss, but did he pitch ineffectively?" manager Tony La Russa said. "I don't think so."

1B Albert Pujols grounded into three double plays for the first time in his career. He was 0-for-2 with men in scoring position after hitting .472 in Opening Day games in his career.

LF Matt Holliday knocked in the first run of the game with a two-out hit in the first inning. He led the National League with 50 two-out RBI last year.

By the Numbers:

5 - Consecutive times the Cardinals have lost a season opener at home.

Quote to Note:

"I had a bad day."

- 1B Albert Pujols, after he went 0-for-5 and hit into three double plays in the season opener.

 

ROSTER REPORT

Spring training got off to a rough start when 20-game winner Adam Wainwright suffered a ligament injury to his elbow, requiring surgery before he had thrown a pitch in an exhibition game. That injury stripped the Cardinals of their major advantage over their National League Central competitors, that they had two No. 1 starters, with Chris Carpenter being the other.

Rotation:

1. RHP Chris Carpenter

2. RHP Jake Westbrook

3. LHP Jaime Garcia

4. RHP Kyle Lohse

5. RHP Kyle McClellan

McClellan was a valuable member of the bullpen last year and the Cardinals will have to fill in for him there somehow. The key to the rotation might be Lohse, who is healthy now after battling forearm problems for the last two seasons. Garcia struggled early in spring training and the Cardinals will need him to be good as the only left-handed presence in the rotation.

Bullpen:

RHP Ryan Franklin (closer)

RHP Mitchell Boggs

RHP Jason Motte

LHP Trever Miller

LHP Brian Tallet

RHP Bryan Augenstein

RHP Miguel Batista

The veteran Franklin doesn't throw as hard as most closers but still is efficient. For more velocity, the club can turn to Motte and Boggs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Miller, whose control was off last year, will have to bounce back, and Tallet will have to be better than the pitcher who gave up 20 homers when he was starting for Toronto last year.

Lineup:

1. SS Ryan Theriot

2. CF Colby Rasmus

3. 1B Albert Pujols

4. LF Matt Holliday

5. RF Lance Berkman

6. 3B David Freese

7. C Yadier Molina

8. 2B Skip Schumaker

Manager Tony La Russa hadn't seen fit to hit the pitcher eighth this spring, and he said that if the offense doesn't struggle, he won't do that this year. Theriot, the new shortstop, and Schumaker both led off last year, but Schumaker was very productive this spring hitting down in the lineup. At the start of the season, switch-hitting Berkman will hit fifth behind Pujols and Holliday, but Rasmus could drop from second if Berkman falters.

Reserves:

C Gerald Laird

INF Tyler Greene

INF Daniel Descalso

OF Jon Jay

OF/INF Allen Craig

Jay and Craig divided time in right field last year after Ryan Ludwick was traded to San Diego, and either would provide a suitable substitute if Berkman can't play every day. Non-roster 3B Matt Carpenter was the rage of camp, but he doesn't play middle infield so Descalso, was kept at the start of the season until Nick Punto returns after having had hernia surgery.

Medical Watch:

RHP Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery in February 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 25. He will miss the entire 2011 season.

INF Nick Punto (hernia surgery in February 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22. He hopes to return in late April.

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