By Rob Rains
JUPITER, Fla. – The Cardinals know that every game Albert Pujols starts this season will not become a repeat of what happened on Wednesday.
Playing his first game for the Cardinals since game seven of the 2011 World Series, Pujols had a single in three at-bats while starting as the designated hitter, batting fourth, just two days after arriving in Jupiter and signing his contract.
It was what his teammates did that made the game a rarity as they broke out for 29 runs on 26 hits in a 29-8 win over the Nationals in West Palm Beach.
The day included a 15-run eighth inning in which the Cardinals sent 19 hitters to the plate and had nine hits. In the game they scored 10, and 11, runs off two different Washington pitchers.
Pujols was in the lineup after he was able to get in work in the batting cage at the Cardinals’ complex on Tuesday.
“It feels good to be back in a real game,” Pujols said. “I feel competitive facing big-league pitching … I felt like I took some great swings, trying to get my feet wet again.”
His first at-bat came with the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, but he hit into a double play. After fouling out to third in the second, he singled in his final at-bat of the game in the fourth.
“It feels good to be back in a big league uniform, back with Yadi and some of the guys,” Pujols said.
Pujols played even though his wife Deidre was undergoing brain surgery on Wednesday. To read that story CLICK HERE
Other news and notes from Wednesday:
High: Paul Goldschmidt was 4-of-4, including his third homer of the spring, raising his average to .526.
Low: Juan Yepez had to come out of the game after he was hit in the face by a pitch.
At the plate: Goldschmidt had one of three home runs for the Cardinals, the others coming from Paul DeJong and Yadier Molina, who was playing his second spring game … DeJong was 3-of-3 with five RBI and is now hitting .471 for the spring … Minor-league outfielder Conner Capel, who did not come into the game until the sixth inning, also went 3-of-3 with four RBIs … Corey Dickerson replaced Pujols at DH and went 2-of-2 with 2 RBIs and scored three runs … The Cardinals had 52 at-bats, 25 of them coming with runners in scoring position … Their 26 hits came from 14 different players.
On the mound: Miles Mikolas worked five innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter … The Nationals scored three of their runs off T.J. McFarland in his one inning of work and four runs off minor-leaguer Jacob Bosiokovic.
Off the field: The Cardinals reduced their spring roster to 40 by sending nine players back to the minor-league camp. Re-assigned were pitchers James Naile, Zach McAllister and Kyle Ryan; catcher Clint Coulter; infielders Nolan Gorman, Kramer Robertson and Anderson Tejeda; and outfielders Alec Burleson and Conner Capel … With Memphis breaking camp on Saturday in advance of their April 5 season opener it’s likely their will be more cuts in the next two days … Nolan Arenado did not play after having a mole removed from near his right eye on Tuesday but Marmol said he expects Arenado to be in the lineup on Thursday night.
Looking ahead: The Cardinals will play a night game against the Marlins on Thursday. Drew VerHagen will start, while Steven Matz will get in his work by starting a minor-league game.
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