When there are nine tight, tense and dramatic innings that end with the St. Louis Cardinals on the right side of 1-0 Opening Day victory over the Cincinnati Reds, it’s pretty hard to be unhappy about it.
When Adam Wainwright throws seven scoreless innings and gives up only three hits while striking out nine to not only pick up his first-ever Opening Day win but also the 100th of his career? Even better.
When we get to see Kevin Siegrist, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal throw 21 of their combined 28 pitches for strikes to get the final six outs of the game — especially when three of those outs are in a messy eighth inning? Fantastic.
Oh, and for Johnny Cueto to pitch nearly as well as Wainwright by allowing just Yadi’s homer and two other hits while striking out eight Cardinals in seven innings — and be the losing pitcher? What more could you want?
Well, sure, you could want to not see the Cardinals defense commit three errors. Yet each of the three who committed those errors — birthday boy Peter Bourjos, Kolten Wong and Matt Adams — also made good defensive plays. The first inning catch by Bourjos was great (and, sadly, not worthy of being a video highlight from the game according to MLB’s website) and proved right away why his speed will be such an asset.
Adams got Brandon Phillips caught in a rundown in the tense eighth inning, as Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes so well:
First baseman Matt Adams gloved Jay Bruce’s one-hopper and prepared to throw home. But Adams, at the last instant, noticed that Phillips had stopped his approach to the plate and the 260-pounder began running at Phillips, which would unnerve anybody.
“I saw him stop and knew I had to get him in a rundown,” said Adams.
Adams got Phillips to backtrack and then flipped the ball to third baseman Matt Carpenter, who tagged Phillips out as they nearly got tangled. Carpenter managed to right himself before Votto could make third.
Check out the video here (and perhaps wish, like I did, that Adams had just run right over Phillips).
And, sure, it would have been better if Pat Neshek’s Cardinals debut wasn’t facing one batter and walking him … even if that did set up the chance for Adams’ play.
Yes, more offense would have been good too. But Cueto was starting on Opening Day for a reason, just like Wainwright was.
In the end, what matters most is the final outcome — not necessarily the journey to get there, and especially in Game 1 of 162. Enough things went right to make up for those things that went wrong, which is crucial when the final score is 1-0.
Plus every Cardinals game that concludes with a final play of high-fives on the field is a reason to be happy.
Now we have a full day to enjoy that happiness too, with the series resuming tomorrow night. Michael Wacha makes his season debut at 6:10 p.m. Central Time, facing Tony Cingrani.
Christine Coleman is the lead writer for Aaron Miles’ Fastball. Follow her on Twitter, @CColeman802, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Also follow @AMilesFastball for the latest updates and like AMF on Facebook if you don’t already.