Looking back over the St. Louis Cardinals’ first home stand of the season and my first week covering an MLB team, it was quite an unforgettable week.
This year’s Opening Day ceremonies at Busch Stadium were as great as ever. The Cardinals bringing out their living Hall of Famers in their red jackets is always a sight to see. The Budweiser Clydesdales are as much a fixture in St. Louis as the Redbirds are themselves. Then there is the parade of trucks going around the warning track that introduces the Cardinals’ 2013 roster to the fans. The whole show is one of the best in baseball, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the Cardinals lost (13-4) their home opener to Cincinnati. And I am sad to say that since I moved to the Midwest in August of 2008, the Redbirds have lost all but one (2010) home opener I have been to.
Jaime Garcia got the start and pitched a great game. Garcia picked up his 400th career strikeout in the first when he fanned Reds’ slugger Joey Votto. Garcia went on to tie his career high with 10 strikeouts before leaving with a lead. Unfortunately, the bullpen blew it.
The next day, the Cardinals beat the Reds 5-1, allowing just one run in the fourth inning. Following the win, St. Louis provided a clinic to MLB batters on how good the Cardinals’ pitching is, throwing three straight shutouts, two of them being complete game shutouts.
During the third of those shutouts, I was in the press box for the second time.
Adam Wainwright was stellar. When using the term complete game, he earned every aspect of it as not only did Wainwright limit Milwaukee to four hits while equaling his career high of 12 strike outs, but he was also 3-for-3 at the plate. Wainwright drove in the first run of the game in the third inning and then when the Cardinals’ batted around in the sixth, Wainwright had two hits, scored a run and drove in a run.
That is about as complete a game as a pitcher can have both on the mound and offensively.
On the final day of the home stand, and my third game in the Cardinals’ press box, Garcia was back on the mound. And while he wasn’t as masterful as his home opener start, he did have great defense behind him. The infield turned three double plays as Garcia stretched the Cardinals’ pitchers scoreless streak to 39 straight innings.
But, when Garcia came out, the streak ended as the bullpen once again let him down. In the end, the bullpen took its second loss of the home stand.
While the finish wasn’t something I will want to remember, what happened before the game is.
My middle son (Caiden) is a big Cardinals fan. My wife brought Caiden to the game that day and they sat in section 348, right below the press box. Before the game, I was able to bring both my wife and son inside and give them a tour of the press box.
I think my wife enjoyed it more than Caiden did. After all, at 7-years-old, his dream is not to be writing baseball like his father, but to be playing catcher at Busch Stadium when he grows up. Regardless, I will always remember being able to show my son the inside of the Cardinals’ press box where I work.
Now, the Cardinals are on the road. They started a three-team, 10-game trip Monday in Pittsburgh. St. Louis will return to Busch Stadium on Friday, April 26, to face the Pirates. On Saturday, April 27, I will be back in the press box for my fourth game of the season. Until then, I will be listening a lot on the radio.