There'll be even more pomp than usual before the Cardinals begin a three-game series Monday against the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds . Along with the annual motorcade delivering the team and several of its Hall of Famers clad in red jackets at home plate, Stan the Man's four children will unveil an outfield wall marker."Opening day in St. Louis is a pretty special thing," second baseman Daniel Descalso said. "They do a really good job. Fortunately, this is going to be my third one."
A full tribute and harmonica fan giveaway honoring Musial, far and away the best player in franchise history and already honored with two statues outside Busch Stadium, is set for Friday. Several Cardinals past and present attended the funeral in late January for Musial, who died at age 92 after several years of ill health, and the team is wearing a memorial jersey sleeve patch.
Lefty Jaime Garcia , who thrives at home with a career 20-11 record and 2.48 ERA, gets the call in the series opener against Mat Latos and the Reds, who finished a comfortable nine games ahead of St. Louis last season. The Cardinals are 3-3 after taking two of three from the World Series champion Giants, the team they let off the hook in the NL championship series, pummeling ace Matt Cain for ninth fourth-inning runs in a 14-3 win Sunday."We don't draw it up, so we just have to compete with whatever they give us," manager Mike Matheny said. "It's a great test, no question about it. You want to have everybody clicking early on and get off to a good start, but we also understand it's a long season."
Before the end of the month, they'll also face the NL East champion Nationals, a Phillies team that has returned to health and the Reds again. The wild-card Cardinals beat the Braves in a one-game playoff and then rallied to eliminate Washington before collapsing in San Francisco."I think you want to find out where you are as early as possible," Descalso said. "The way you find out is by playing other tough teams."
After watching the Giants trot out their title trophy, the Cardinals will show off hardware from four of their championship teams: 1967, 1982, 2006 and 2011. Players will drink in the heady atmosphere of perhaps the city's biggest annual event, with Gov. Jay Nixon and Mayor Francis Slay among the dignitaries expected to attend."St. Louis is a great city and baseball town," catcher Yadier Molina said. "I can't wait to get there." The same goes for third baseman David Freese , hopeful of returning for the opener off a short rehab stint from a back injury with Triple-A Memphis, although Matheny cautioned that "it's not automatic."
The Reds are coming off a strong 4-2 opening homestand against two teams that are expected to contend, putting up six runs on Stephen Strasburg on Sunday and taking two of three from the Nationals and Angels. Todd Frazier is among the NL leaders with a .480 average, is tied for the league lead with 12 hits - including three homers - and also tied for first with nine RBIs. Newcomer Shin-Soo Choo also is off to a fast start with three homers."St. Louis is always a good place to play," Jay Bruce said. "The fans come out every day, it's always packed. There's always a good feel there."
The Cardinals have dominated at home against the Reds, who have won just three series and split two out of 27 chances dating to 2003. The Reds, though, are far from intimidated."We'll take them one game at a time," manager Dusty Baker said. "Let's enjoy this one, go there, have a nice dinner and get some sleep."
The Reds set a franchise record with 52 strikeouts the first five games, and Johnny Cueto and three relievers combined for 10 more on Sunday.
Latos fanned eight in his first outing Wednesday against the Angels, allowing three runs in 6 2-3 innings, but his visits to St. Louis have generally been a disaster. The right-hander is 1-3 with a 13.50 ERA in four career starts at Busch.
Garcia, on the other hand, is 6-0 with a 2.11 ERA in six starts at home versus Cincinnati.
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||Day-to-Day||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|April 02, 2013||Ryan Ludwick||15-Day DL||Torn cartilage in right shoulder|
|March 22, 2013||Nick Masset||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|March 26, 2013||David Freese||Day-to-Day||Strained back|
|March 24, 2013||Rafael Furcal||15-Day DL||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|March 23, 2013||David Freese||15-Day DL||Strained lower back|
|March 22, 2013||Jason Motte||15-Day DL||Strained right elbow|
|March 07, 2013||Rafael Furcal||Day-to-Day||Right elbow surgery - out for season|
|February 22, 2013||Chris Carpenter||60-Day DL||Nerve irritation, right shoulder|
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Shin-Soo Choo is way off the hook.
The new Cincinnati center fielder made amends for two botched fly balls, drawing a leadoff walk in a nine-run ninth inning and later delivering a three-run double as the Reds spoiled the St. Louis Cardinals' home opener with a 13-4 victory on Monday.
"I almost died and my teammates gave me another life," Choo said. "I really appreciate my teammates, coming over to me and saying everybody makes mistakes.
"I missed two fly balls and in my mind I had to do something to help the team."
Mitchell Boggs (0-1), the stand-in closer for St. Louis, yielded six runs while getting only one out. Only a few thousand fans remained of the largest regular-season crowd of 47,375 for the bottom of the ninth in 8-year-old Busch Stadium history.
A day earlier, the Cardinals scored nine runs in the fourth inning against Giants ace Matt Cain .
"I think this is the worst outing of my career," said Boggs, who has one save in two chances along with a bloated 14.54 ERA. "I guess without saying there's a lot of season left and I expect to be a player with a lot of good ones."
The defending NL Central champions Cardinals held a tribute for Stan Musial before the game. They've lost three straight home openers and six of the last seven.
Brandon Phillips blooped a go-ahead double in the ninth. He earlier hit his 150th career homer for the Reds, who have won six of seven since losing in extra innings to the Angels on opening day and totaled 11 or more hits the last four games.
Jay Bruce had four hits and Chris Heisey doubled twice with an RBI.
Sam LeCure (1-0) pitched an inning for the win.
Cardinals lefty Jaime Garcia matched his career best with 10 strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings and left with a 4-3 lead. Yadier Molina hit both of the fly balls dropped by Choo in the first and sixth, and added an RBI single.
Pinch-hitter Xavier Paul tied it in the Reds' eighth with an RBI single off Trevor Rosenthal before the Reds took off in the ninth with six hits, five walks and an error. The Cardinals last surrendered nine runs in the ninth in a 12-9 loss at Colorado on July 6, 2010.
Prior to the game, Musial's four children unveiled an oversized red No. 6, the Hall of Famer's retired jersey number, on the wall in left-center. The decal matches memorial patches worn on the team's uniform sleeves.
Reds players stood on the top dugout steps as the Cardinals paraded around the warning track in flat-bed trucks, and Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker hugged Cardinals Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith .
Choo entered the season with 652 games of outfield experience but only 10 in center, and all 155 games with the Indians last year as the right fielder. Two runs scored in the first when Choo twice juggled Molina's fly ball after backtracking, and Matt Holliday scored from first to put the Cardinals up 4-2 in the sixth when the ball popped out on Choo, perhaps fighting the sun.
It was the second two-error game of Choo's career, the other coming on May 25, 2011 against the Red Sox. He's the first Reds center fielder to commit two errors in a game since Deion Sanders on April 28, 1995, against the Padres.
"You get a little gun-shy out there, it happens," Baker said. "It's a new position, a new league, a new park. Those balls went 400 feet, it's not like they were just fly balls."
Reds starter Mat Latos allowed one earned run in six innings, shaving his ERA to 10.23 in five career starts at Busch to 10.23.
Garcia struck out four of the first six batters and retired eight in a row before issuing a four-pitch, two-out walk to Latos in the third. He entered with a 2.48 career ERA at Busch, the stadium's best, and his other 10-strikeout game was at home Aug. 19 against the Pirates.
"It doesn't really matter how we lose the game, stuff happens," Garcia said. "You know what, they've got a good thing going on."
NOTES: The Reds totaled two errors their first six games while their opponents had 12. ... Jason Isringhausen and Jim Edmonds , teammates on the Cardinals' 2006 championship team, threw first pitches to injured closer Jason Motte and Adam Wainwright . ... Bruce has four consecutive multiple-hit games.