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Sunday, March 30, 2014

St. Louis Cardinals: What to expect on opening day in Cincinnati

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The St. Louis Cardinals open the 2014 regular season on Monday afternoon in Cincinnati.

Cardinals fans who relish opening day, and are pleading for it to be a National holiday (I am not one of those people) will have to wait to see this year's team for the first time until next week.

Instead, fans will have to settle on watching the game on TV.

So what should we expect to see when Jhonny Cueto tosses the first pitch towards the plate and the patiently waiting Matt Carpenter?

Here are a couple of ideas of what to expect (and not expect) on Opening Day in Cincinnati.

  • There will be plenty of boos for Yadier Molina. Reds fans have not forgotten the episode from a couple of years ago, just as Cardinals fans have not forgotten when Brandon Phillips steps to the dish. Since it is opening day, and the Reds will actually have a full house, expect the boos to be a bit louder than normal. 
  • Molina will have his first square-off with Reds' speedster Billy Hamilton, assuming Hamilton can actually get on base. In all actuality, I am one that thinks Hamilton is an unbelievable weapon and watching the rivalry between Molina and Hamilton grow could be fun for years to come. 
  • Peter Bourjos will make some sort of unbelievable play.  General manager John Mozeliak brought in the speedster for his glove and Bourjos will put it on display early in support of the GM's decision to trade away 2011 World Series MVP David Freese.  That is of course, if Bourjos starts. Jon Jay actually has owned Cueto in his career, hitting .476 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 21 career at bats.
  • Wainwright is pretty aggressive on most occasions, but look for him to avoid Jay Bruce, who owns the Cards' ace. Bruce has two home runs, eight RBIs and a .393 average in 28 at bats against Wainwright. 
  • Look for Trevor Rosenthal and Carlos Martinez to both appear in this game, no matter the score. Both played huge roles last season, but manager Mike Matheny should want to get the first appearance out of the way for both of these extremely young pitchers. 
  • We will not see any mentions of Dusty Baker actually inside the stadium. The TV broadcasts will bring him up I am sure, but I bet the Reds do not.  Evidently, old friend Dusty is tending to some crops and has taken up farming. 
  • The battle between Wainwright and Reds first baseman Joey Votto should be fun too. Votto does everything in his power to draw a walk. Meanwhile, Wainwright hardly walks anyone. Votto actually has drawn three walks off of Waino in his career, but is hitting just .148 in 27 at bats.
There are plenty of other things that could likely come up. 

But there is one thing that is really important about this game and series with the Reds to start the season for the Cardinals. 

It is vitally important for the Cardinals to jump on the Reds early. The Reds are already rattled by injuries and if the Cardinals can jump out to a quick lead in the division by winning this series, they may never have to worry about the Reds again this season.

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