Mets(courtesy of mlb.com)
Santana strides to the Busch Stadium mound — for the first time, never before having pitched in the shadow of the Arch — with the Mets in serious need of a stopper.
Santana has had more experience than he would have wanted pitching his team out of a hole. And he has been very good at it. Even in his injury-curtailed 2009 season, five of his wins followed Mets defeats.
Offensively challenged in the early going, Jerry Manuel’s club is ready for the kind of lift the stylish Venezuelan can provide.
Santana may be a stranger to Busch Stadium, but not to its resident prince. Pujols is a .500 hitter against him, with two of his six hits going for home runs. It’s nothing personal for Pujols, who mauls any pitcher wearing a Mets uniform. In only nine games against them last season, he drove in 14 runs and smacked four homers while batting .469.
Which is what made the 0-for-4 collar he wore Friday night so unusual.
Manuel appears to be relenting on the idea of eventually lowering Jose Reyes from the leadoff spot into the three-hole. “I’m going to reserve that a little bit until he feels comfortable, until he feels good about it,” the manager said.
Cardinals(courtesy of mlb.com)
The Cards are 4-0 in opening games of series this season. … The battery of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina will receive their Gold Gloves Awards prior to Saturday’s game, and the hardware show will continue on Sunday, when Pujols will receive both his 2009 NL MVP and Silver Slugger Awards.
But that was only one of the odd sidelights to a game in which Oliver Perez shined brightly next to Chris Carpenter, yet the Mets lost.
That is all the encouragement needed by Jaime Garcia, as the young left-hander takes on Santana — two career wins to 123.
The 23-year-old from Reynosa, Mexico, pitched his way into the Cardinals’ rotation by turning the inch he was given into a mile.
“We knew he was talented, [but] we thought that physically, it might be a lot to ask to start him at the Major League level,” recalled St. Louis manager Tony La Russa. “It might be safer if he was in Triple-A with a little less attention and you could take care of him more. That’s how we started. And then after two or three [Spring Training] starts, and even in the workouts, he was throwing the ball more effectively. He was throwing the ball better than anybody from the first time he threw a bullpen to now.”