Miller overpowering as Cards hold off Red Sox

2014-03-05T15:20:00Z 2014-03-05T16:46:06Z Miller overpowering as Cards hold off Red SoxBy Rick Hummel 314-340-8196

JUPITER, Fla. • Shelby Miller still hasn't faced the real Boston Red Sox lineup. But, after being left in the bullpen last October when the Cardinals lost to the Red Sox in a six-game World Series, Miller overpowered the Red Sox lineup today, albeit a lineup missing such stars as David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia.

The Cardinals righthander, making his first spring appearance, permitted a second-pitch homer to Daniel Nava and then fanned five of the eight remaining hitters he faced as the Cardinals held off the Red Sox 8-6 in a baseball exhibition.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny made his first challenge in the eighth inning, disputing a double play completed by the Red Sox but the call stood.

Second-base umpire Mark Ripperger ruled that Boston pitcher Noe Ramirez's throw to second baseman Heiker Meneses had not pulled Meneses off the bag on a ball hit by Stephen Piscotty. Matheny objected, very mildly, and crew chief Jerry Meals  took under two minutes to review the play.

Meals said the delay would have been even shorter except for a head-set issue in the communication between himself and umpire Mike Estabrook, who was in the command truck.

There were five umpires on hand for the game, with the base umpires rotating in and out of the truck.

As for the game itself. . .

"I wouldn't say it was a World Series atmosphere," offered Miller.

The righthander said Nava had hit a fastball that "wasn't that bad a pitch."

But, among the many good pitches Miller threw was a cutter which froze Xander Bogaerts for strike three.

"It's been the pitch I've been working on and that's kind of what we want to do with it," Miller said.

Xavier Scruggs, who hit 29 homers for Class AA Springfield last year, unloaded a two-run shot off lefthander Chris Capuano to put the Cardinals ahead for good in the second inning.

Matt Adams drove in two runs with a single and Matt Holliday, who knocked in another run, had two hits in three at-bats, giving him five hits in six at-bats this spring.

Among the other impressive Cardinals pitchers was veteran reliever Pat Neshek, who fanned three men in 1 1/3 innings. Young righthander Sam Gaviglio, who pitched here for Class A Palm Beach last year, had two scoreless innings.

Second baseman Kolten Wong ended the game by throwing out Meneses at third base after the latter had doubled in two runs off Sam Freeman.

Here are the earlier updates posted by Rick Hummel:

Miller fans five 

Discounting a leadoff homer by Boston's Daniel Nava, Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller was overpowering today in his first start since last September.

Miller, left out of the Cardinals' postseason rotation mix in 2013, struck out five Red Sox hitters and walked none in 2 2/3 innings before being relieved.

The Cardinals led, 8-4, after seven innings. 

Xavier Scruggs delivered two runs on a second-inning homer off Chris Capuano and designated hitter Matt Adams two more on a third-inning single off righthander Anthony Ranaudo.

Despite having a runner cut down at the end of a double steal, the Cardinals scored three more runs in the fourth. Jhonny Peralta doubled in one run, Matt Holliday (five for six for the spring), singled home another and Allen Craig singled in the third run of the frame.  

Cardinals reliever Angel Castro, whose earned run average already was 21.60 for his one appearance, saw it go even higher in a three-run Boston sixth, highlighted by Xander Bogaerts' two-run homer.

Castro's ineffective performance followed an impressive one by sidearming reliever Pat Neshek, who struck out three in 1 1/3 innings. 

Holliday's hit keeps him at 1.000 

Matt Holliday singled in his first at-bat for the Cardinals in today's exhibition game with Boston but his average remained the same. That's because Holliday already was at the max, 1.000.

The first-inning hit was Holliday's fourth in four spring at-bats.

Cardinals starter Shelby Miller, helped by a diving catch from third baseman Daniel Descalso, set down eight men in a row, fanning five, after Daniel Nava's leadoff homer, before he was lifted with two out in the third.

A longtime Cardinals opponent, lefthander Chris Capuano, pitched around two hits in the first but he couldn't get past Xavier Scruggs in the second.

First baseman Scruggs, who hit 29 homers last season at Class AA Springfield, followed a walk to Jon Jay with a two-run blast to left and the Cardinals had a 2-1 lead before a full Roger Dean Stadium house. 

Miller touched for leadoff HR 

Withheld from the World Series last year, Cardinals righthander Shelby Miller got his first taste today of what bore only a faint resemblance to the Boston Red Sox regular lineup. The initial taste was tart as leadoff man Daniel Nava rocketed an 0-1 pitch for a home run over the right-center-field wall.

But Miller set down the next three men in order, striking out two. 

Rick is a baseball writer/columnist at the Post-Dispatch 

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Baseball writers Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel cover the Cardinals for the Post-Dispatch and They'll provide daily Cardinals updates here, from the start of spring training through the end of the season and beyond.


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