Will someone please explain to me why they finally end the long, cold winter with glorious opening day baseball... And then, for no apparent reason, teams take the second day of the season off?
For years they floated the flimsy excuse that the day off was in case opening day was rained out. But it doesn't really wash when the Cardinals started the season in a retractable dome now does it?
What a bummer.
The Mike Matheny era started off on a positive foot with the Cardinals playing clean, efficient and all around successful baseball. But it's still pretty weird not only to look into the dugout and not see Tony La Russa there after all these years -- but also to have no idea of what to expect the skipper to do in a particular situation.
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I couldn't decide if Matheny was trying not to be La Russa, who was known for making tons of pitcher changes, by leaving Kyle Lohse in to start the eighth -- or if he was trying to take a page out of the La Russa handbook by stubbornly doing what no one expected him to do by leaving Lohse in.
Either way, he was smart enough to get out there with the hook before Lohse was able to spoil a spectacular outing after he tired.
At first I thought first base umpire Angel Hernandez, one of the most incompetent and controversial umpires in the game was trying to bait Matheny with his terrible call that ruined an inning ending double play in the eighth. He makes a ridiculous call, Matheney is compelled to come out of the dugout to argue and Hernandez marks the occasion of his first game by tossing Matheny.
Fortunately, the new Cardinals skipper didn't argue much and never gave Hernandez a shot.
I guess all closers will always scare me. It looked like Jason Motte couldn't throw a strike when he entered the game. But he quickly got things under control and retired the side in the ninth without much drama. I like him better than Ryan Franklin or Jason Isringhausen in his later years mostly, however, because he goes after hitters instead of trying to get too cute with them. If you have confidence in your stuff, throw it over the plate. There's no defense against a walk.