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Observations from the Cardinals third Spring Training game

Michael Wacha started the Cardinals third Spring Training game today.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Today the Cardinals take on the New York Mets in their third Spring Training game. As promised, here are observations and insights from the game which may not show up in the box score.

Here is the starting lineup via Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Carpenter 3b

Bourjos cf

Holliday lf

Craig rg

Molina dh

Adams 1b

Ellis 2b

Cruz c

Kozma ss

(Wacha p)

Top of 1st Inning

  • Wacha struggled badly with his first curveball, missing high. Wacha then walked the leadoff hitter on a fastball outside.
  • Wacha’s first changeup is still crazy good. Curtis Granderson was way ahead on it. Wacha then got a fastball up and Granderson took it to the opposite field for a ground rule double.
  • Ike Davis also way ahead on Wacha’s changeup. Wacha generally is up too much in the strike zone.
  • Tight strike zone cost Wacha a strikeout against David Wright twice. Wright ends up walking.
  • Wacha escapes bases loaded with hard hit ground ball to Ellis.

Bottom of 1st Inning

  • Matt Carpenter is in midseason form. Carpenter took a 1-2 pitch that was barely low and outside. Then Carpenter took a low-inside fastball and roped it in the right field corner.
  • Bourjos plays Cardinal way by hitting a groundball to the right side to advance Carpenter to third base.
  • Holliday’s RBI single was in tough at bat. Holliday singled on offspeed pitch by pulling it past third baseman.
  • Both Craig and Moline made weak contact against Mets starter Matsuzaka.

Top of 2nd Inning

  • Wacha gets two flyball outs and then is taken out of the game after throwing 40 pitches. There was no sign of a Wacha injury, the staff is apparently just keeping a strict pitch limit at this time.

Bottom of 2nd Inning

  • Matt Adams made solid contact but was out on a hard hit groundball to second base.
  • Mark Ellis was out on a weak flyball to left field. One has to wonder why Ellis is starting versus a righthander when Kolten Wong needs at bats and Ellis has never hit righthanders well.
  • Tony Cruz was out on a popup to first base.

Top of 3rd Inning

  • Keith Butler comes in for this inning after finishing the 2nd inning for Wacha.
  • Butler's throwing motion is very deceptive, hiding the ball well from the batter until the last possible second.
  • Butler's first breaking ball is not good, getting ripped foul.
  • It appeared that Peter Bourjos put some seeds in his mouth while easily catching a deep flyball to center.
  • Butler's fastball has good life, striking out a lefthander while running high and away.

Bottom of 3rd Inning

  • Pete Kozma begins his at bat by trying to bunt to first base. The ball goes foul. Not a good sign on Kozma's confidence that he is trying to bunt his way on base this early.
  • To his credit Kozma works a walk and then steals a base off of the extraordinarily slow pitching motion of Jose Valverde.
  • Matt Carpenter grounds sharply to the left side. The ball is fielded but Kozma is moved over to third. Once again, Matt Carpenter appears in mid-season form.
  • Bourjos fails to drive in Kozma by grounding weakly to to the shortstop. Kozma gets caught in rundown and Bourjos advances to second.
  • Matt Holliday smokes a line drive over the head of the centerfielder. Bourjos jogs homes but it looks like anyone else on the team in a full sprint.
  • Allen Craig grounds out weakly to short.

Top of 4th Inning

  • Announcers say Taveras is still "hesistant" running the bases. So it could be another "week or so at least" before Taveras sees the field.
  • Under the radar prospect Tim Cooney strikes out Ike Davis on an absolutely devastating curveball.
  • Cooney follows that up by striking out David Wright on a low fastball. With Jamie Garcia's continual health issues Cooney may be the next legitimate lefthanded starter for the club.

Top of 5th Inning

  • Cooney continues to impress. Hitters are not picking up the fastball which is getting past them for the most part. Cooney strikes out the second hitter of the inning which is now three of the five batters he has faced.
  • Cooney breaking ball is very sharp and keeping hitters off balance. The pitch makes his fastball much faster.
  • Cooney strikes out the last hitter on a high and away fastball, which now eqauls four out of six.

Bottom of the 5th Inning

  • Scott Moore continues to hit the ball hard, driving a fastball deep to the opposite field (left field) that is caught on the track.
  • Bourjos doubles on a sharp grounder down the third base line. Shane Robinson follows with a liner to left field. Bourjos scores relatively easily showing off his speed for the first time all of spring.

Top of the 6th Inning

Bottom of the 6th Inning

  • With two men on Mike Matheny brings in Kolten Wong to face a lefthander. After going down 0-2 on a good breaking ball Wong slaps a line drive the other way but it is caught by the leftfielder. All factors considered it was good contact by Wong, but not a good result.
  • After Tony Cruz hits a groundball of the pitcher to load the bases Pete Kozma comes to bat. Kozma proceeds to rope a line drive into left field driving in two. A good confidence builder for Kozma.
  • Shane Robinson continues his Spring Training dominance by lining a high fastball up the middle to plate another.
  • Stephen Piscotty grounds out sharply to the shortstop to end the inning.

Top of the 7th Inning

  • Shortstop Luis Mateo makes two fine plays on flyballs near the left field foul line. Mateo had a decent year single A ball in 2012, but struggled to hit last year in AA. His future is behind Peralta, Descalso, Greg Garcia, and probably Ryan Jackson for playing time at the MLB level. In other words, this may be all you see of Mateo in 2014.

Bottom of the 7th Inning

  • Game is starting to become less relevant with more minor league players subbed in. Kolten Wong continues his struggles striking out on a breaking ball. Wong appears to be trying to hard.

Top of the 8th Inning

  • Prospect Eric Fornataro struggles a bit as his fastball gets hit around by the Mets lineup.
  • The inning ends when Stephen Piscotty throws a runner out at home. The runner was attempting to score from second on a line drive single to right field. The pace on Piscotty's throw was impressive.

Bottom of the 8th Inning

  • At some point teams will learn to play Randal Grichuk deep in the outfield, as Grichuk hits another flyball over the head of the centerfielder for a ground rule double. Grichuk's power has been impressive early this spring.

Top of the 9th Inning

  • Kevin Siegrist comes in to finish the game and promptly strikes out Ike Davis with a fastball.
  • Siegrist gives up a single to his second batter after getting his fastball up too much.
  • Siegrist ends the game on a double play ground ball to third base. Kolten Wong looks very smooth in turning the double play.
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