Pleasant surprise Fryer makes most of first start

Pleasant surprise Fryer makes most of first start

ST. LOUIS -- Eric Fryer has added his name to a growing list of lesser known players making significant contributions for the Cardinals this season.

Fryer, making his first start of the season on Sunday in place of starting catcher Yadier Molina, went 3-for-3 with a walk. More significantly, his eighth-inning double scored Aledmys Diaz to give the Cardinals a 4-3 win over the Reds.

"Eric did a nice job of mixing up his pitches and threw the ball well," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said of Fryer's day at catcher. "All the way across a great day. It's always nice when we give Yadi a day and we see the guy do his part behind the plate."

Two of Fryer's hits were doubles, the last of which rolled to the center-field wall, allowing Diaz to score from first. Fryer knew the scouting report on Reds reliever Ross Ohlendorf before stepping to the plate.

Fryer on his go-ahead double

"I know Ohlendorf likes to come at guys with his fastball, especially away," Fryer said. "I was looking out over the plate, and he ran one out over the plate probably a little more than he wanted to, and I got the head through and put a good swing on it."

Fryer also shined defensively, calling pitches for starter Michael Wacha and throwing out Brandon Phillips trying to steal second in the sixth with the game still tied at 3.

Fryer's throw was made tougher as Devin Mesoraco's momentum from a swing and miss carried his body over the plate.

"I think as catchers, we're supposed to kind of go through the hitter a little bit," Fryer said. "I kind of pulled up on it, I didn't have my best grip. I made it tougher on myself, to be honest. I was able to get enough on it and Jedd [Gyorko] made a really nice play hanging in there as long as he could and putting the tag on Phillips."

Wacha was impressed with his batterymate.

"He was the man today," Wacha said. "Great, great job behind the plate. Great mixup to those batters and throwing guys out and huge hits for us today."

Fryer is 6-for-6 to start the season. The last big league player to start a season 6-for-6 was former pitcher Dontrelle Willis for the Marlins in 2004.

Not bad for a guy who made the roster after Brayan Pena injured his knee late in spring training.

"He worked hard this spring, didn't have to make a lot of alterations, a good catch-and-throw guy, and he's been able to continue to work on his swing and try to figure out how to put together tough at-bats, and I'd say he did a good job of that today," Matheny said.

Gyorko is happy that Fryer has added his name to that growing list of contributors.

"It's awesome just to see the guys you haven't really heard of come up playing the way they are playing," Gyorko said. "Hopefully they can keep it up."

Joe Harris is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.