Cardinals utilize power and speed to grind past Reds 7-5

Yadier Molina crushed his third homer of the season in the second inning of Reds starter Homer Bailey.

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ST. LOUIS — Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday that he doesn’t mind starting the season with so many division games.

"I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting a look at what we’re going to be fighting," he said before the Cardinals beat the Reds 7-5.

Of course, it’s easy to say that when you’ve won five of the first eight with the lowly — uh, rebuilding — Cubs coming to Busch Stadium this weekend.

Reds manager Bryan Price, who is dealing with a depleted roster, might not agree. The first-year manager began the season with eight players on the disabled list, including his top three relievers. All three could be back when these teams meet again next month.

3 UP

— Yadier Molina’s power. Maybe Molina has decided he wants to lead the Cardinals in home runs this year. Or after last season, perhaps he realizes the only way he can gain his due respect from MVP voters is to hit a bunch of homers. Whatever the reason, Molina is off to a fast start in the power department. He led off the Cardinals’ four-run second by slugging a misplaced two-seamer from Homer Bailey into the left-field seats for his third home run of the young season. Molina did not hit No. 3 last year until May 27, on his way to finishing with 12.

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— Right side of the infield. Youngsters Matt Adams and Kolten Wong seem to have taken to the business of playing every day. The two combined for four more hits, including a two-run triple by Kolten Wong that tied the game in the second. In the first two games of the series, they have reached base nine times in 17 plate appearances. After the first eight games, Adams is hitting .367 with a .406 OBP, Wong .280 with a .400 OBP.

— Peter Bourjos. One day after getting his first two hits of the season, the new center fielder added three more as his batting average climbed to .227. Bourjos even got to show off his speed for one of the first times as a Cardinal when he turned a grounder just inside the first-base line into an easy double.

3 DOWN

— Pace of game. Even those who enjoy long games had their patience tested by this one. Thank you, Homer Bailey. Whenever a Cardinal reached base, Bailey took … a … long …. time … between … pitches. A lot of Cardinals reached, too, as Bailey was roughed up for nine hits, two walks and four runs in a 97-pitch, five-inning performance. By the two-hour mark, the game was barely five innings old. That the game lasted "only" three hours and 10 minutes was thanks largely to the effective work of the St. Louis bullpen.


— Lance Lynn. The Cardinals starter also worked like he was being paid by the hour or the pitch. Lynn worked one more inning than Bailey, throwing 112 pitches, and allowed one more run. The Cardinals, however, made sure the big right-hander didn’t get a loss when they scored two in the bottom of the sixth to take a 6-5 lead that put him in line for the win.

— The win stat. If it were to go to the most deserving pitching, it would not have gone to Lynn. It would have been split by the relievers who followed him — Randy Choate, Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal. Choate and Martinez worked perfect innings before Trevor Rosenthal gave up a leadoff single in the ninth before retiring the next three to pick up his third save. Lynn, meanwhile, improved to 2-0 with a 6.55 ERA.

You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at stanmcneal@gmail.com.