Mike Matheny has become the regular batting-practice pitcher for catcher Tony Cruz, and the Cardinals' manager is using those sessions to simulate game at-bats. That approach is different from the norm, but it's the best way, Matheny believes, to help Cruz stay sharp while not getting much playing time.
"I'm throwing tough pitches to him," Matheny said. "It's not a feel-good BP like most of the everyday players. I'm watching him and I'm seeing his swing path and everything looks real good. I consciously pitch differently."
The Cardinals-Mets game on June 3 has been selected by ESPN as its Sunday Night Game of the Week. The game time has been changed from 12:30 p.m. CT to 7:05 p.m. CT. Because of another programming conflict, that game will be televised on ESPN2.
On another programming note, Sunday's home game against the Braves has been picked up by TBS. First pitch is still scheduled for 1:15 p.m. CT. Also, note that Monday's start time (6:05 p.m. CT) is earlier than usual for a weeknight game. That change is the result of ESPN televising the game, which is against the Cubs.
The Cardinals had scored a first-inning run in a club-record eight straight games heading into Wednesday. Overall, St. Louis has tallied a run in the first inning in 15 of its first 30 games. The only other time the Cardinals plated a first-inning run in eight consecutive games was from July 12-23, 1986.