Right-hander Kyle McClellan's starting debut in the major leagues was a success on many counts Tuesday, although he wasn't the winning pitcher in the Cardinals' 3-2 victory over the Pirates at Busch Stadium.
McClellan, a 26-year-old
St. Louisan, had made 202 consecutive relief appearances for the Cardinals in
three previous seasons, but he was moved out of the bullpen to take injured
right-hander Adam Wainwright's rotation spot. He survived
"He got a breaking ball up for a two-run homer, but he had the mental toughness to put that behind him and crank out all those zeros. That was very impressive," manager Tony La Russa said. "I thought he handled himself really well.
"He's a very good major league pitcher."
The Cardinals, still playing without left fielder Matt Holliday, who is recovering from an appendectomy, scored three runs or fewer for the fifth straight game. That hadn't happened to a Cardinals team at the start of a season since 1919.
But at least the table was set. The top two hitters in the lineup, shortstop Ryan Theriot and center fielder Colby Rasmus, each reached base three times. And first baseman Albert Pujols, still hitting only .167, delivered with a sacrifice fly and a run-scoring single.
"If we do a great job of creating opportunities, then we'll find a way to score our share of runs," La Russa said. "Albert isn't himself at the plate, but he cranks out two very tough at-bats."
CF Colby Rasmus has reached base 11 times in five games for an on-base percentage of .550. Rasmus is known more for his run-production than for his table-setting, but he said, "You've got to go what you've got to do. I'm going to try to do anything I can. If I can hit a home run … or do what I did tonight—get on with a base knock."
LF Matt Holliday, who has
begun baseball activities after having had an appendectomy Friday, will not go
on the 15-day disabled list, manager Tony La Russa said. That means Holliday
likely will appear at some point during the Cardinals' 10-game trip to
RF Lance Berkman got his first extra-base hit as a Cardinal with a fourth-inning double. Berkman, who labored this spring with elbow and calf injuries and a subsequent .182 average, has swung the bat well and run the bases aggressively in the first week of the season.
RHP Kyle McClellan had appeared in 202 consecutive big-league games as a reliever before Tuesday, although he had started all spring. McClellan was 4-0 as a starter in Grapefruit League play, but he said, "This is a lot different. They count. There's definitely a lot more on your shoulders." He limited the Pirates to two runs in six effective innings Tuesday but got a no-decision.
BY THE NUMBERS: 143 - Attempted base-stealers caught by backup C Gerald Laird since 2006. Laird, who nabbed one Tuesday, leads all big-league catchers in that time span.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "People probably don't give him enough credit for how tough he is between the ears."
- Manager Tony La Russa, on 1B Albert Pujols, who, still off with his swing, nonetheless drove in two runs with a bouncing single and a sacrifice fly Tuesday.
-- LF Matt Holliday (appendectomy) underwent the procedure April 1. He played catch and ran sprints April 5, and he expects to take batting practice April 6. He should return to the Cardinals before April 16.
--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.