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Cardinals survive rain delay and Mets, 7-2

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St. Louis Cardinals beat Washington Nationals 7-3

St. Louis Cardinals non-pitcher Connor Thomas prays before pitching the eighth inning of an exhibition game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals on Monday, March 21, 2022, at Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach, Fla. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

JUPITER, Fla.—New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was scratched from his Friday exhibition start against the Cardinals on Friday because of a stress reaction in his right scapula,  And with rain forecast for the afternoon, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol moved most of his regular position players and a couple of starting pitchers to the back fields to play in a minor league squad game.

The rain did come a couple of times and there was a 55-minute delay with one out in the third inning of the game which the Cardinals led 3-0 after a three-run second inning against deGrom’s replacement, Felix Pena. Luken Baker singled, Cory Spangenberg doubled and Kramer Robertson singled to start the inning and all scored.

After considerable discussion ensued among umpiring crew chief Larry Vanover, Marmol and Mets manager Buck Showalter, who seemed the most interested in playing, inasmuch as it was not raining at the time, the game finally resumed with Showalter clearing his regulars off the field, making this largely a minor league game.

Not long thereafter, Baker launched a homer to left in the fourth off former Cardinals top draft pick Adam Ottavino. Major league veteran Spangenberg had three doubles and scored three runs and Robertson drove in two for the game as the Cardinals whipped the Mets 7-2 for their  seventh victory in 12 spring training games with three  remaining.

Left-hander Connor Thomas, not yet sent back to Class AAA Memphis, needed only 16 pitches to retire the Mets in order in the first two innings. In four spring innings, Thomas has allowed just one hit and no runs. 

Non-roster right-hander Blake Parker and right-hander Aaron Brooks each relinquished a run but right-hander Nick Wittgren knocked off a scoreless inning and prized left-hander Matthew Liberatore hurled 2 1/3 scoreless innings despite permitting five baserunners.  Catcher Julio Rodriguez picked a runner off second to help Liberatore after Liberatore had issued his second of three walks. Corey Thompson bailed out Liberatore in the ninth by throwing a double-play ball to end the game. 

Afterward, both Parker and Liberatore were reassigned to the minor leagues. 

Dakota Hudson worked five innings, allowing three runs, while pitching for Class AA Springfield in the morning game. Genesis Cabrera, still throwing 96 and under and not 99 mph, pitched two scoreless innings and Jake Woodford featuring a good slider, was scoreless through three innings as he made a statement for the open fifth starting job.

Yadier Molina stole a base without a throw when Hudson was paying no attention to him. Corey Dickerson had two line singles as the hitting star.

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