Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Monday, March 6, 2023

Postcard from Cardinals spring training camp for Monday, March 6, 2023

Weather: 84 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Cardinals 7, Astros 1

By Rob Rains

JUPITER, Fla. – As they watched the Cardinals’ game on Sunday from the dugout, Adam Wainwright turned to Jack Flaherty with a question.

“Have you played baseball yet this spring?” Wainwright wanted to know.

A day later, Flaherty can answer yes to that question.

Flaherty made his spring training debut on Monday against the Astros and it could not have gone much better. He allowed only one hit, which was a home run, over three innings, striking out five.

Prior to the game, Flaherty’s only “game” this spring had been a two-inning simulated game last week on a back field.

“It’s been a while,” Flaherty said. “It felt good to get back out there.”

The key out for Flaherty to settle into a groove was the second hitter he faced, Jeremy Pena, after a leadoff walk. He got Pena to ground into a double play.

“You hate walking guys, especially the first batter of the game,” Flaherty said. “It (the double play) just kind of reset everything.”

He also was happy to work a 1-2-3 third inning after the Cardinals scored six runs in the second.

“You want to make it quick and put up a shutdown inning,” Flaherty said. “To be able to do that, those are the things that are important, shutdown innings, as the season goes on goes on.”

Wainwright didn’t get to see the game, having left camp on Monday morning to head to Phoenix for the first round of the World Baseball Classic where he will pitch for the U.S. team.

Flaherty, who has his locker next to Wainwright, admitted that it will be strange not to see Wainwright on a daily basis, perhaps for the next two weeks. Wainwright is one of 13 players away for the tournament for different countries.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in here without Waino,” he said. “It will definitely be a different feeling. It will be good … a lot of guys will be getting their shots.”

Here is how Monday’s game broke down:

High: Flaherty and Steven Matz combined to allow just the one hit and one run, with nine strikeouts, over six innings.

Low: Chris Stratton allowed two hits in the ninth but was able to keep the Astros from scoring.

At the plate: The six-run second came in an inning in which the Cardinals sent 11 batters to the plate and had only two hits, receiving six walks. The hits were a two-run single from Juan Yepez and a run-scoring single by Willson Contreras … Dylan Carlson, batting lefthanded, homered in the fourth for the other run … Masyn Winn batted leadoff and was 0-of-2, but did draw two walks … Minor-leaguer Victor Scott II got the start in center field. Scott, the fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, reached base three times on a single and two walks.

On the mound: Matz was even better than Flaherty, retiring all nine batters he faced, striking out four … Flaherty threw 47 pitches while Matz threw 39, 27 of them for strikes … Drew VerHagen and Tink Hence each worked a scoreless inning, although both issued a walk … The Cardinals combined to record 14 strikeouts.

Worth noting: Carlson was the DH after sitting out the last three games. Hopefully he will be able to play in the outfield later this week after being bothered by sore arm … Paul DeJong, also slowed defensively, could see time at shortstop later this week as well … Infielder Jose Fermin has a strained quad that will sideline him for at least two weeks.

Up next: The Cardinals will play the Tigers in Lakeland on Tuesday and the Yankees on Wednesday in Tampa. Gordon Graceffo will get the start on Tuesday followed on Wednesday by Jake Woodford, who will be starting a game in his hometown for the first time since 2017 when he was in the Florida State League.

Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains

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