Control issues for Alex Reyes send Cardinals to loss in home opener

By Rob Rains

His return to the mound has not gone as smoothly as Alex Reyes or the Cardinals would have liked, and that was clearly evident in the seventh inning of the home opener on Friday at Busch Stadium.

Coming into a tie game, Reyes walked the first two hitters he faced and later gave up a sacrifice fly followed by a two-run homer which sent the Padres to the 5-3 victory.

Reyes is pitching again after missing all of the 2017 season because of Tommy John surgery and throwing only four innings at the major-league level last year before a back muscle injury required another season-ending operation.

The long absence has showed, as Reyes has issued six walks in his first four games this season, coming in a span of three innings. Of his 26 pitches on Friday, only 11 were strikes and he also threw a wild pitch. He got just one swinging strike among those 26 pitches.

Reyes has allowed a total of five runs in his three innings, a 15.00 ERA.

Reyes said after the game that he does not believe his control issues have been caused by his long layoff but is simply a result of failing to execute his pitches the way he wants.

“I haven’t been able to do it,” Reyes said. “It’s just holding my delivery and going out there and executing. My arm feels fine, my body feels healthy. It’s just going out there and me handling my job.

“I’ve just been very inconsistent. I haven’t been commanding the ball in the zone. I haven’t been able to throw my off speed stuff for strikes. Those are just some things for me to work on.”

After issuing the back to back walks to begin the inning, Reyes got a ground ball out before giving up the sacrifice fly. He then made a mistake to Fernando Tatis Jr., which landed in the seats in left field.

“Clearly we want to see more consistent strikes,” said manager Mike Shildt. “His stuff is there. The weapons are there.”

Here is how the game broke down:

At the plate: Paul DeJong and Paul Goldschmidt hit solo homers for the Cardinals, the first time since the first game in Busch Stadium III in 2006 they hit two homers in the home opener. They had hit just one homer in the home opener since 2011 (Randal Grichuk in 2017) … The Cardinals only other hits were a double by Matt Carpenter in the sixth and an RBI single by Marcell Ozuna later in that inning. It was Ozuna’s first RBI of the season as he was in the starting lineup after missing Wednesday’s game, the result of a lingering contusion from when he was hit by a pitch late in spring training … The only hit after that single was Goldschmidt’s homer in the eighth, his fifth in the season’s first seven games … Yadier Molina was 0-of-4 and now has two hits in his first 28 at-bats … The Cardinals were retired in order in the ninth on only seven pitches.

On the mound: Jack Flaherty shut out the Padres over the first five innings, stranding a runner on third base in the second, third, fourth and fifth innings. He had to come out of the game at that point, however, after throwing 98 pitches … A leadoff walk got Dominic Leone in trouble in the sixth, preceding a two-out, two-run homer … John Brebbia worked the final two innings, striking out four, and retired all six hitters he faced.

Key stat: Including the seven hitless at-bats against Flaherty with a runner on third base, the Padres were 2-of-12 with runners in scoring position. Over the last three games Cardinals pitchers have allowed only four hits in 36 at-bats with a runner on second or third.

Worth noting: The 24-hour delay because of the weather forced three of the 16 living members of the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame to miss the pre-game ceremony. Mark McGwire was attending a funeral in California, Chris Carpenter had a previous family commitment and Joe Torre had travel issues … Carlos Martinez was in town for the ceremonies and will continue the next steps of his re-hab from St. Louis. He is scheduled to throw his first bullpen session on April 13, according to Shildt … Brett Cecil underwent carpel tunnel surgery this week. President of baseball operations John Mozeliak said more will be known about a possible timetable for Cecil’s return in about a month … Prospect Genesis Cabrera is beginning this season in the Memphis bullpen instead of in the Triple A rotation … As expected, Jedd Gyorko was activated from the injured list and Drew Robinson was optioned to Memphis … Friday’s win went to Padres reliever Robert Stock, a 2009 draftee of the Cardinals, as a catcher. He was converted to pitching in the Cardinals’ farm system in 2012 but was released after the 2014 season. Stock made his major-league debut last season.

Looking ahead: Michael Wacha will get the start on Saturday in the second game of the series,

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

Photo by AP courtesy of KSDK Sports

About Rob Rains 125 Articles
Rob Rains , who runs STLSportsPage.com was inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2017, St. Louis Media HOF 2018, and is a former National League beat writer for USA Today’s Baseball Weekly. For three years he covered the Cardinals for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat until its demise in the 1980s. Rains was awarded the Freedom Forum Grant to teach Journalism for a year at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State. Now based in St. Louis, Rains is often a guest on Frank Cusumano’s Pressbox Show on 590AM and has been writing books, magazine articles, and covers the Cardinals and Blues for STLSportsPage.com. He has written or co-written more than 30 books, most on baseball, including autobiographies or biographies of Ozzie Smith, Jack Buck, and Red Schoendienst. Rains volunteers his time helping run Rainbows for Kids, a 501 (c)(3) charity for families of children with cancer in the Greater St. Louis Area.