Right fielder Carlos Beltran and right-hander Jake Westbrook made short work of the Diamondbacks on Tuesday, but after the Cardinals’ easy 6-1 win, they still couldn’t relax because of a left hand injury suffered by catcher Yadier Molina.
Initial X-rays found no break after Molina was crossed up and hit in the left hand by a pitch from right-hander Mitchell Boggs in the ninth inning, but more tests will be forthcoming.
Beltran, for the second time in a week, hit two homers and drove at least six runs. On Tuesday, he hit a first-inning breaking ball from Arizona right-hander Ian Kennedy for a two-run homer. In the second, an inning kept alive by a two-out walk to the light-hitting Westbrook, Beltran belted the 10th grand slam of his career off another breaking ball.
“The first couple of innings, (Kennedy) left some balls over the middle of the plate,” said Beltran, who has five homers and 15 RBI during a 10-for-23 run that has followed a 3-for-32 skid.
Manager Mike Matheny was confident that Beltran was ready for a breakout, even when he was in the midst of his slump.
“He’s not a player who’s going to panic,” Matheny said of Beltran, who has 10 homers to Albert Pujols’ one. “He isn’t going to try to reinvent the wheel.
“He’s got a good idea of what he’s looking for, and he doesn’t try to do too much when he’s got a chance to get it.”
— GM John Mozeliak traveled to Memphis on Tuesday to hand out World Series rings to the players who spent time with the Cardinals during their championship season last year.
— C Yadier Molina was confident after the game that his left hand, hurt when he was hit by a pitch on a cross-up from RHP Mitchell Boggs in the ninth inning, was not broken. However, it still was in the area in which he suffered a broken bone several years ago. Molina said he was concerned at first but the pain had subsided when he got iced afterward. “Anytime that happens to a catcher, it’s scary,” he said. “It’s not fun.”
— RHP Jake Westbrook fanned an uncommonly high eight batters, running his pitch count to 115 by the end of the seventh inning. He was lifted, having given up just four hits and no runs. “When you see his sinker move that much,” manager Mike Matheny said, “you know they’re going to have a hard time getting good wood on it.”
— SS Rafael Furcal got a rare day off, and Daniel Descalso made his first start of the season at the position. Descalso played well, especially charging in to make plays on a couple of slow-hit balls. Furcal was rested while riding an eight-game hitting streak at 14-for-33 (.424).
— 1B Allen Craig showed no ill effects from tweaking his surgically repaired knee Monday night, and he started his third straight game at first base Tuesday. 1B Lance Berkman (strained left calf) likely will return Friday from the disabled list, which he has been on for more than three weeks. Manager Mike Matheny said that RF Carlos Beltran would see some time in center field so as to accommodate getting Berkman, Craig, Beltran and CF Jon Jay all significant playing time.
— RHP Kyle Lohse will try to pitch St. Louis to its first series sweep of the season Wednesday night. The Cardinals have won the first two games of a three-game series on four other occasions but have lost the finale each time. Lohse has dropped two straight starts.
BY THE NUMBERS:2 — Stolen bases RF Carlos Belteran needs to join the 300 club for homers and stolen bases.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We have a lineup where anyone in the lineup can hurt the other team.” — RF Carlos Beltran.