On Friday March 31st the St. Louis Cardinals faced of with their AA club in Springfield, MO at Hammons Field. This was the first exhibition between the two since 2012. With Colin handling media coverage for the “Route 66 Rumble”, I was able to soak in the fan experience. In case you weren’t able to attend, here is an overview of what fans were in store for.
Fans began lining up for the 5:05pm game at 9am out in front of the main gates. By the time gates opened at 3:05, the line of eager fans was quite lengthy. Upon gates opening, fans stormed towards the third-base dugout and wall. Many hoping to get a picture or autograph of their favorite Cardinal. There was a standing room only crowd by first pitch, and most fans stayed for the entire game. The atmosphere was electric for most of the night with many of the Cardinal mainstays receiving huge ovations upon their introductions and at-bats. Even as the starters began exiting the game, the crowd stayed locked in, relishing the moment of having the big league club in their backyard.
All of the Cardinals 25-man roster participated in the exhibition with the exception of Lance Lynn. He had stayed behind in Florida to participate in a simulated game for a final spring tuneup. Fans were able to watch the Cardinals take batting practice after gates opened. One of the opening night stars, Randal Grichuk, put on quite a display during BP. He blasted multiple home runs, displaying the prodigious power he posses. Upon the completion of batting practice, the Cardinal players and coaches were extremely cordial with fans. Many of them signed dozens, if not hundreds of autographs and took pictures when asked. A lot of players also signed autographs when they re-entered the field to warm up for the game. I was extremely impressed with how accessible and kind the players were to their fans.
Mike Leake started for St. Louis and threw a very strong seven innings against the AA club. He gave up one run while striking out eight. The Cardinals lineup was very similar to the opening night lineup from Sunday. Regulars such as Fowler, Carpenter and Molina all played the field and had two at-bats before exiting. Newly signed outfielder Adolis Garcia was a bright spot for Springfield. He picked a couple of hits and showed off his speed rounding the bases. One of my favorite parts of the exhibition was seeing top prospects Sandy Alcantara and Dakota Hudson suit up for St. Louis. Alcantara is ranked as our #5 prospect in the Cardinals system with Hudson being ranked 12th. Alcantara was electric striking out the side in the 8th while touching 97 mph with his fastball. Hudson also displayed very good stuff, although he did not have quite as smooth of an inning as Alcantara. He was still able to shut the door on Springfield, and secured a 5-2 win for St. Louis.
I believe I speak for most fans in saying that the Route 66 Rumble was a fantastic experience. I hope St. Louis returns for another exhibition in the near future. Five years is just too long to wait!
Thanks for reading!