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Cardinals can't stop scoring as they hit Nationals with 29

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — There’s no crying in baseball. Or at least on this wild Wednesday, there’s way to stop trying, unless you’re “Pop” Warner, the Cardinals’ third-base coach who stopped every runner he could at third base in a 15-run eighth inning only to have the next hitter drive him in.

The Cardinals were getting their first look at Washington veteran righthander Anibal Sanchez since he tilted the scales in Game 1 of the 2019 National League championship series by taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning, beating Miles Mikolas 2-0. That ignited a four-game sweep by the Nationals, who went on to win the World Series.

The Cardinals wound up with one hit off Sanchez that night. The Cardinals had 12 times as many hits off Sanchez in four innings Wednesday in a 29-8 smackdown. For the day, the Cardinals had a whopping 26 hits and 27 runs batted in. They were 15 for 25 with runners in scoring position. They had 38 base runners, an average of better than four per inning.

Mikolas, meanwhile, allowed just one run and four singles in five innings, striking out two.

“Walking out and seeing Sanchez out there warming up, it was like having a flashback,” he said. “But our hitters were ready today. They have seen him before. They are well-versed.”

In the regular season, the Cardinals never had scored as many as 15 runs in one inning, with their previous high of 12 having been set twice, most recently in 2012 in Chicago. Their regular-season high of 28 runs in a game came at Philadelphia in 1929.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, which began compiling spring training statistics in 1993, this is the highest-scoring output for an exhibition by one team since then. Oakland scored 26 against the California Angels in 2004.

It is no surprise that the Nats are 1-10. The Cardinals are 6-4.

But manager Oliver Marmol said he couldn’t control the scoring.

“You don’t think about ‘stop scoring,’” he said. “The guys continued to take professional at-bats. There comes a point in the game where, on the bases, you stop being aggressive. As far as taking an at-bat, it’s hard to flip that switch, you know what I’m saying?

“You still take the normal at-bat you would take if it was a tie ballgame.”

The 15-run explosion came with reserves in the lineup, including many, like outfielder Connor Capel, who officially had been returned to the minor league complex earlier in the day. Capel had three hits and four RBIs after being a late entry to the party.

Paul DeJong, hitting .471 for the spring, knocked in five runs with a three-run homer (off reliever Austin Voth) and a single. Paul Goldschmidt, who entered the game hitting .400, raised his average to .526 with four hits, including two singles and a home run off Sanchez.

Yadier Molina, playing in his second game of the spring, had a long homer to left and a double, driving in three runs. Leadoff man Dylan Carlson, who was on base three times in four plate appearances, had a single in each of the first two innings off Sanchez.

Cardinals Nationals Spring Baseball

St. Louis Cardinals' Harrison Bader (48) doubles in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Wednesday, March 30, 2022, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Pujols, appearing in Cardinals livery for the first time since the 2011 World Series, hit into a bases-loaded double play that scored a run, popped out with two men on and then singled in his third at-bat while serving as the designated hitter.

“It feels good to be back in a real game, in the field, competing, and facing big-league pitching,” Pujols said. “I felt like I took some great swings, trying to get my feet wet again.”

Yepez, Carlson hurt

There was some attrition from the Cardinals’ side. Rookie first baseman Juan Yepez had to leave in the eighth after being hit with a pitch on the lower left side of his face, causing a “good bit” of blood to rush out, said Marmol. The manager didn’t have a report from the medical staff yet but anticipated stitches to be needed.

“It hit him flush, which is good,” said Marmol. “He was talking and coherent when I was at home plate. He seemed fine, but there was a decent amount of blood still coming out.”

Carlson jammed his finger while sliding into third base and came out after the fifth inning.

“I don’t think, as of right now, that it’s anything,” Marmol said.

Gorman, eight others sent out

Nolan Gorman, deemed for a couple of years as the Cardinals’ top hitting prospect, was reassigned to the minor league complex as the club trimmed its number of players in camp to 40 by sending out nine non-roster players.

After hitting 25 homers and batting .279 at Class AA Springfield and Class AAA Memphis last season, the 21-year-old Gorman never got going this spring and was running out of at-bats with the regulars needing more now, including the designated hitters. The infielder had just two singles and no walks with seven strikeouts in 16 plate appearances.

“He didn’t have the spring he wished he would have had,” Marmol said. “This is a kid who needs to go back down and get the at-bats.”

Marmol said Gorman took the news reasonably well but said, “He wants to belong. That’s what you would expect from somebody who’s going to be here for a long time.”

Also reassigned were pitchers Kyle Ryan, Zach McAllister and James Naile; catcher Clint Coulter; infielders Kramer Robertson and Anderson Tejeda; and outfielders Alec Burleson and Capel.

Marmol not worried about Edman

Tommy Edman, hitting eighth Wednesday after leading off much of the spring and almost all of last season, is just 1 for 20, but Marmol said that .050 mark was not reflective of his spring and praised the switch-hitting Edman’s work ethic in the cages as he tries to learn to handle the high fastball better from righthanded pitchers.

“If we were to start the season, I would have zero concerns of where he is,” Marmol said. “I know when the lights come on, what this kid is capable of doing. I’ll lean more on that than the last 20 at-bats.”

Arenado out after procedure

The Cardinals played without third baseman Nolan Arenado, who had a painful mole removed from his right eyebrow.

“There’s no pain now,” said Arenado. “I should be good to go tomorrow.”

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