It was a rematch of the 2013 World Series ... in a way. While the same teams were playing, the personnel changed over the course of the offseason, but perhaps most importantly, the Cardinals started Shelby Miller, a pitcher they were unwilling to use throughout their playoff run.
Miller used 35 pitches in amassing five strikeouts against zero walks, though he did allow a leadoff home run to Daniel Nava. The home run was the only hit he allowed over the outing, though the pitchers behind him allowed a total of five runs over the remainder of the game, as the Cardinals outlasted the Red Sox 8-6. Offensively, Allen Craig, Matt Holliday and Mark Ellis rapped two hits a piece, with Jhonny Peralta adding a double.
Boston started late offseason pickup Chris Capuano who labored through two innings, allowing three hits and two runs including a home run. He was followed by pitching prospect Anthony Ranaudo who gave up five runs on six hits in an inning and a third, walking two and striking out zero. While Nava led off the game with a bang, Xander Bogaerts had the best swing of the game:
That was a gimme of a pitch but Bogaerts did exactly what he should have with it. The long ball only cut the score from 7-3, but the score doesn't remove any majesty from it. Will Middlebrooks struggled both at the plate (0-3) and in the field with a few miscues as his rough spring continues.
Braun goes yard as Milwaukee routes Oakland
Forsaken slugger Ryan Braun notched his second home run (solo) on Wednesday, as the Brewers put up seven runs against Oakland. It was Braun's only hit in two at-bats, though he drove in two on the day. Likely Opening Day starter Yovani Gallardo went 2 and ⅔ innings, allowing three hits and one run, with four strikeouts against one walk in a solid outing.
Oakland saw their own probably Opening Day starter toss a good game, as Jarrod Parker finished 3 and ⅓ frames, with the Braun solo home run as his only blemish. He only struck out one while walking two, but limited the Brewers to two hits in the outing. Drew Pomeranz and Phil Humber cost Oakland the game as they allowed four runs in under two innings. Outfielder Michael Taylor knocked in two runs via a home run and a double.
Weaver shows low velocity as Angels lose
Pitching is going to be paramount to the success of the 2014 Angels, with perhaps no one more important than staff ace Jered Weaver. He went four innings on Wednesday, allowing four hits and two runs while striking out two. That's all well and good but in spring training the process is more important than the results, and the process gave some cause for concern.
Weaver was clocked in the 85-88 MPH range according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. While he does well to disguise his fastball via deception and a funky release, at some point the lack of velocity will catch up to him, whether it's major league hitters turning on it or just a lack of effectiveness of his offspeed pitches as he attempts to pitch off the fastball. Albert Pujols notched one of the Angels six hits in the game but the team could only push two across the plate in the one run loss.
Matt Cain pitched effectively for the Giants, tossing three innings of one-hit ball, striking out two and walking none. Reliever prospect Heath Hembree nailed down the win with his first save of the spring, and the newly-svelte Pablo Sandoval laced two hits in three at-bats, driving in two.
Other scores around MLB
Marlins 5, Mets (split squad) 2
Rockies 7, Cubs 5