05/26/12 8:13 PM ET
Cards need better work out of the 'pen
By Nate Latsch / Special to MLB.com
With the 5-3 loss in 10 innings to the Phillies, the St. Louis 'pen fell to 3-8 on the season, with eight blown saves in 16 opportunities and a 4.31 ERA.
"I think we're at just a hard point," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said on Saturday afternoon. "We've been juggling around a lot of different things, trying to see what works, and making sure we try to keep guys healthy. For the most part, we've been able to give them days off, even when it doesn't help us. When we need them, we're still giving them time, because we need them for the long haul.
"Overall, we've got the horsepower to do it, and we've seen that early. It's helpful when our starters take us deeper, but we can't count on that all the time. We've got to get back to figuring out, for me, to get them in positions where they can succeed. It seems like every night we're kind of careful with a guy or two, and when you're doing that you can't spend all your bullets when you've still got innings to go."
A run of shorter outings from the starting rotation has applied pressure to a bullpen that has been used heavily and has been depleted by injuries to Kyle McClellan and Scott Linebrink, plus the loss of Lance Lynn to the rotation to fill in for the injured Chris Carpenter.
St. Louis made a roster move on Saturday to add a fresh arm with the promotion of right-hander Chuckie Fick and the demotion of Fernando Salas.
Salas had an 0-1 record and 4.50 ERA in eight innings over 11 appearances in April, in which he allowed four earned runs on 12 hits, struck out 11 and walked two. In May, he's 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA, and has allowed seven earned runs on 11 hits over 7 2/3 innings, with 10 strikeouts and seven walks.
In 15 2/3 innings over 18 appearances this season, Salas is 0-3 with a 6.32 ERA. The right-hander has allowed 23 hits and walked 11 batters (two intentionally).
"We need him and we need to get him right," Matheny said. "The best opportunity for him to do that is to go get some consistent work in a different atmosphere. That wasn't anything except a move that we know for the long haul we've got to have Fernando Salas right. Tough decision to make, sending him to Memphis, but that's going to be the best thing, keeping on a calendar to get consistent work and then getting him a chance to work on a few things without being here."
In 2011, the right-handed reliever went 5-6 with a 2.28 ERA in 75 innings over 68 appearances and saved 24 of his 30 opportunities.
Adams swinging a hot bat since his callup
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals rookie first baseman Matt Adams played in his sixth Major League game on Friday night and produced his third multihit game with a career-high three hits.
Adams had two doubles and scored a run in the Cards' 5-3 loss to the Phillies in 10 innings.
"I felt like the barrel was finding the ball tonight," Adams said after the game. "Before the game, [hitting coach Mark McGwire] and I watched some video and he showed me that [Phillies starter Cliff] Lee likes to stay hard against lefties. That's what I was looking for. I was looking for something hard out over the plate. First at-bat, he left a sinker up a little bit. Next at-bat was a cutter that was up a little bit."
After six games, the left-handed-hitting first baseman is hitting .318 (7-for-22) with three doubles, one RBI, two runs scored, a .375 on-base percentage, .455 slugging percentage and .830 OPS.
"I think he's matured in the last year," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "He makes a jump and does what he did at Double-A, and I had the opportunity to see him in A-ball, too. You could see him mature as a hitter.
"I think what we saw in Spring Training really kind of validated that he's real close. He had a good start at Triple-A that gave him that confidence that he can do it. The test is gonna be when you get here and then you have to figure out if you can stay ahead of the challenges that they are going to give you, because they are going to continue to learn about you and find your holes and try to capitalize on your weaknesses, and you have to learn to fight and stick to your strengths."
The 23-year-old, who was 23rd-round selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, hit .300 or better in each of his stops in the Minor Leagues. He was hitting .340 with 10 doubles, nine homers and 27 RBIs in 37 games for Triple-A Memphis this year before getting the callup.
Adams has shown to be a quick study at the Major League level.
"Everybody out there is tough," Adams said. "[Phillies starter Joe] Blanton had good stuff [Thursday] night. We faced Lee [on Friday], and we've got two more tough pitchers with [Kyle] Kendrick and [Roy] Halladay coming up. I feel like, up here, there's really no break. You have to be on top of your game every single game."
But Adams is feeling more and more comfortable.
"I feel comfortable going up there and being able to have good [at-bats] against these guys, and the film room is definitely helping out a lot -- seeing what their tendencies are with left-handed hitters," he said.
His three hits on Friday night show that he has already proven to be a smart hitter.
"I think he's going about it the right way, but you're going to see some of the smartest hitters still get suckered out of their approach," Matheny said. "He's going to have to make quick adjustments. That's the name of this game."
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny went with a different lineup on Saturday night, with shortstop Rafael Furcal and catcher Yadier Molina getting a break and Tyler Greene moving over from second base to shortstop.
"We're going to have to continue to get [Furcal] some time off and could have put [Daniel] Descalso over there," Matheny said. "Tyler seems to be on a good roll right now, and you could keep that roll going at second base, but we have to keep him alive at shortstop, too, because we don't know how things will play out. It's been a little while. He's done a nice job at second base, and I think that confidence just carries over to where he'll do the same thing at short."
Tony Cruz got the start at catcher, which was his seventh start of the season. Skip Schumaker was in the lineup batting leadoff and playing center field. Descalso was at second base.
Nate Latsch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.