TORONTO • In a weekend series at their ballpark against the reigning National League champs, the first-place Toronto Blue Jays got the exact kind of games they probably expected.
They were crisp outings. They had good pace. They included shows of power and home runs.
It was exactly what Toronto has been accustomed to this season.
Only this time they weren't playing them.
The Cardinals hurled a second consecutive shutout at one of the finest lineups in the American League and won 5-0 on Sunday to take the three-game series and right a listing record. Jaime Garcia had his first shutout appearance of the season -- and one of his finest games since 2012 and the shoulder trouble started. Garcia threw seven shutout innings and he put the left side (his right) of his infield to work. (See below.) Garcia struck out four but got 15 groundouts.
Only one of the final 14 batters he faced got the ball out of the infield.
Over two days in Toronto two of the Cardinals' pitchers who had most recently struggled with the mushroom-cloud innings that detonated their starts -- Garcia and Shelby Miller -- pitched 16 scoreless innings against the Jays.
The Cardinals had the power show, too. Home runs by Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta gifted an early lead for Garcia. A double by Tony Cruz helped as well. Carpenter finished with two hits, and Peralta had two extra-base hits on the game and two other deep drives that resulted in outs.
Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal completed the shutout with scoreless eighth and ninth innings. Both reliever allowed one baserunner.
Garcia keeps Jays grounded, has shutout going
Players who have known him for awhile and played behind him often say that when Jaime Garcia is on his game the third baseman is the busiest fielder at the ballpark.
Matt Carpenter has five assists in the past five innings.
He also has a barehand play that almost resulted in an out against speedy Jose Reyes, and he has an error.
The Cardinals third baseman has been busy.
Jaime Garcia is on his game.
The Cardinals lefty has taken a shutout through six innings as the Cardinals lead 5-0. Garcia has four strikeouts, including twice K'ing the Jays' No. 9 hitter, Kevin Pillar. He has been doing most of his work though by getting groundballs. All three outs in the scoreless inning were grounders to the left side of the infield -- 5-3, 6-3, 6-3. The Jays have not put a ball out of the infield since the fourth inning.
They have only one ball that has gotten out of the reach of an infielder since the start of the second inning.
Garcia has 11 outs on groundouts.
Cards flex their power, take a 5-0 lead
When the Cardinals are asked questions about their lack of power -- as they often have been the past month or so -- there are some that would like the reporter asking to clarify the definition.
What does "power" mean?
There is a temptation to focus on the Cardinals lack of home runs and to bottle that up under the heading of power. But there's more to power than just home runs. For a team -- a GM, a hitting coach, a player -- the notion of power isn't just home runs. Homers happen. What a team wants is damage, extra-base thump ... that's power. Power, in those terms, is best captured by slugging percentage.
Ask a question about the team's low slugging percentage and there's a better chance to get an answer than just asking about homers.
The Cardinals don't like fixating on the homers.
They understand the questions about their slugging percentage.
And already in this game today they've shown what can happen when they do flash their power. Two home runs and a double have staked the Cardinals to a 5-0 lead in the third inning at Rogers Centre. Matt Carpenter and Jhonny Peralta have home runs off Blue Jays' starter Drew Hutchinson and Tony Cruz has a key RBI double that keyed the second-inning rally.
The Cardinals scored four runs in the second inning after Jon Jay and Mark Ellis sparked the push with two one-out singles.
Peter Bourjos' sacrifice fly scored the game's first run.
Ellis stole second and scored easily on Cruz's groud-rule double. It was Cruz's second RBI hit in consecutive at-bats dating back to Saturday when he caught Shelby Miller's shutout and was able to help Miller to the shutout with a two-run single late in the game. Cruz then scored on Carpenter's home run. The shot to center field was Carpenter's second home run of the season.
Peralta hit his 10th to open the third inning.
The Cardinals' shortstop, who leads the team in homers, turned on a 1-0 pitch from Hutchison to inflate the lead for lefty Jaime Garcia.
Garcia has held the Jays to a hit and two walks but no runs in the first two innings.
Adams set for rehab assignment
While the Cardinals continue their American League tour, two members of the team on the disabled list are nearing their return.
Matt Adams could join Class AAA Memphis as soon as Monday to get at-bats as he recovers from the calf strain. Adams is not yet eligible to come off the disabled list. Manager Mike Matheny said it's possible Adams would rejoin the team on that day, but not a guarantee. He has to get through some rehab games first.
Kevin Siegrist is scheduled to throw a bullpen today or tomorrow as he moves closer to returning from a forearm strain.
He has been throwing without discomfort, Matheny said.
Siegrist is eligible to come off the disabled list today, though that won't happen. He has to build up the lost arm strength, and Matheny did not rule out a spin through a minor-league game or two before returning to the big-league bullpen.
Molina gets another mental break -- wait, scratch that
With how well Tony Cruz played on Saturday and how Yadier Molina continues to be open to a mental break from the grind of struggling at the plate and playing behind it, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny planned to give Molina a third day off from catching.
Sunday was going to be a day of rest.
It would be Molina's second consecutive complete day off from game responsibilities, and it meant that he would get three full days off before returning to the lineup in Tampa, Fla.
"We'll unleash the beast on Tuesday," Matheny said.
Moments before first pitch this afternoon at Rogers Centre, the Cardinals announced a change to their lineup that included inserting Molina to the No. 3 spot at designated hitter and removing Matt Holliday. Holliday took batting practice but had some lower back tightness that seized right before the game.
The lineup now as the game begins:
1. Matt Carpenter, 3B
2. Oscar Taveras, RF
3. Yadier Molina, DH
4. Allen Craig, 1B
5. Jhonny Peralta, SS
6. Jon Jay, CF
7. Mark Ellis, 2B
8. Peter Bourjos, CF
9. Tony Cruz, C
Sorry for the delay here in posting this stuff. I had some reporting to do before the game and then I heard about a unicorn of sorts to track down at Rogers Centre -- a vending machine that dispenses baseball card packs from the early 1990s. That was the legend. Well, I got some news that I will post here in a moment.
And the vending machine is real, friends. And it's fantastic.
Check back throughout the game here for updates at C-Beat and StlToday.com about the Cardinals final game in Canada this weekend.