October 3, 2015

Cardinals shut out in Atlanta as prep for playoffs begin

ATLANTA--TURNER FIELD--You might say the St. Louis Cardinals were shutout, 4-0, to that Atlanta Braves Friday night because Cards' manager Mike Matheny was resting his regulars in preparation for the playoffs.

But the obvious usage of the first of the final three-game series for St. Louis does not negate the fact that a re-building Braves team did quite well. They've been hot at home lately, winning seven of their last eight games at Turner Field.

Braves' stater, Julio Teheren (11-8), tossed a solid six innings, escaping jams, giving up no runs, walking only one, and striking down six.

Daniel Castro, bright young star of the Braves, hit a solo home run and notched a couple RBI in the shutout.

Cardinals' starter, Jaime Garcia (10-6) used four innings to begin getting ready for postseason, where he very well may be taking the hill in the first game. (Otherwise, it is likely the first-game starter will be John Lackey.) Matheny kept Garcia's pitch count below 80. Garcia gave up the homer to Castro, one of six Braves' hits that resulted in two earned runs. Garcia took the loss, but his thoughts are obviously a few steps ahead since the Cardinals have no more rewards to play for until the playoffs begin.

Matheny also continues to put Adam Wainwright in a position of on-the-job rehab, having the recently activated St. Louis ace work out of the pen. Wainwright pitched one inning, allowing no hits, continuing to throw efficiently. Though a Mark Reynolds error boosted Wainwright's pitches from 10 to 15, the Cards' right-hander threw a dozen strikes.

Just two games remain (vs. Atlanta) of the Cardinals' regular season.

Lackey starts versus the Braves Saturday, after which Matheny will decide whether veteran right-hander will start the NLDS or lefty Jaime Garcia. The non-starter will likely start the second game. Both will play at Busch Stadium.

For the Cardinals, those playoffs begin Oct. 9 with a best-of-five series against the winner of the NL Wild Card, which will feature the pesky Pirates Pirates and the eyebrow-raising Chicago Cubs.