JUPITER, Fla. — Result: Cardinals 5, Nationals 1
Steven Matz knows that part of the secret to pitching is being able to find ways to get through a game when you don’t have your best stuff.
Why not practice that in spring training too?
Matz allowed three hits, including a home run, and walked three in 3 2/3 innings on Sunday but was able to prevent further damage in the Cardinals’ win over the Nationals.
“Today was a little bit different scenario for me than my first outing when everything felt really crisp,” Matz said. “My stuff wasn’t as sharp but those days happen a lot throughout the season. I was happy with the way I was able to stay with the pitch clock and execute pitches.
“I fell behind a lot of hitters early which I wasn’t trying to do and is not ideal. Ultimately that stuff is going to happen so I was glad I was able to get that work in and make pitches when I needed to.”
Five of the 11 outs Matz recorded came on strikeouts.
“It’s good to run with some traffic on and get used to that,” Matz said. “Pitch clock, with runners on, it was all a good steppingstone for me today. A lot of times in the season you don’t have your best stuff and you have to figure out a way to make pitches and limit damage.”
Here is how Sunday’s game broke down:
High: Ryan Helsley and Jordan Hicks each struck out the side in their inning of work, each doing it on only 11 pitches.
Low: Moises Gomez struck out in all four of his at-bats and has now fanned 12 times in 21 at-bats this spring.
At the plate: One of the minor-leaguers in the lineup, Kramer Robertson, homered and doubled in another run …Taylor Motter also had two hits, and also drove in another run … The other RBIs came from Masyn Winn, on a sacrifice fly, and on a double by Alec Burleson in a two-run first inning.
On the mound: Matz had to come out of the game after 3 2/3 innings, throwing 69 pitches, 42 of which were strikes … Drew VerHagen also worked a 1-2-3 inning and now has four scoreless innings for the spring … One of Helsley’s strikeouts came on a pitch-clock violation against Lane Thomas … Tink Hence loaded the bases in the ninth on a single and two walks before Ryan Loutos relieved and retired Matt Adams to end the game.
Worth noting: The best news of the day for the Cardinals came before the game when Jordan Walker reported no ill effects after having to leave Saturday’s game with what was diagnosed as a shoulder strain. Walker said he could hit and throw with no restrictions. “I’m good,” he said. “They were just being a little cautious with it. I knew it wasn’t anything too serious.” Walker had already been scheduled to have Sunday off. Walker was hurt sliding head-first into second base, which manager Oli Marmol intends to discuss with him. “He will be sliding feet first,” Marmol said. “In the moment it’s hard not too, especially if you feel you can avoid a tag, there are times for it (sliding head-first.” … The Cardinals’ starting lineup featured only three position players who were on their 40-man roster and only one, Andrew Knizner, who spent all of last season in the majors.
Up next: The Cardinals will have their second and last day off of the spring on Monday. They will play the Astros in West Palm Beach on Tuesday.
Follow Rob Rains on Twitter @RobRains.
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