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St. Louis Cardinals P Leake whiffs seven, loses because of lousy defense, lack of hitting

The score isn’t supposed to matter in spring training games.

It’s all about tuning up for the start of the regular season. Sometimes players have details to work on that are more important in the moment than throwing your most reliable pitch to get an out or sending your best slugger to the plate instead of giving a young player a chance to prove himself.

That being said, there is a week to go in Grapefruit League play -- yet the St. Louis Cardinals infield looks as if it is only thinking about heading to the beach or the golf links after they can get those pesky games out of the way.

Starting pitcher Mike Leake was sharp on the mound for the Redbirds, collecting ground balls and strikeouts against some pretty solid hitters on a Washington Nationals traveling squad.

But the players who manned second and third bases couldn’t keep up their end of the bargain.

Kolten Wong opened the door to one Nationals scoring inning when he allowed a routine-as-they get ground ball to skip between his legs.

Third baseman Matt Carpenter botched two makeable plays to help the Nats put up crooked numbers and Greg Garcia missed an easy chance in place of Wong later in the game.

Throw in that newly-acquired shortstop Ruben Tejada hit a ball hard to his counterpart and hesitated when it looked like it was going to be an easy out. But when the Nationals shortstop booted the ball Tejada’s pause gave the defender just enough time to collect the ball and throw Tejada out by a step.

Sure it’s a spring training game. Sure it’s the short of play every one of us who has ever played beer league softball is guilty of. But c’mon man... You’ve just gotta run hard until the umpire calls you out. Then you can got get some putting practice in or whatever.

The hitters didn’t do much to inspire that they’re ready for the season to start, either. The Cardinals left 11 on base and were 0-8 with runners in scoring position.

On the brights side:

▪ Matt Holliday hit the ball hard including one sweet oposite field line drive and he hit a screaming liner to third base that was caught.

▪ Wong hit a lot better than he fielded to collect two hits and raise his spring batting average to an even .300. He had an impressive opposite field double over the head of the Washington left fielder.

▪ Leake looked good with the exception of the defensive downfall. Four of the runs against him were earned. But he was extended much farther than he should have been by the porous gloves of the folks behind him. He struck out seven and walked one.