Pujols had a forgettable opening day in what could be his final season in St. Louis, going 0 for 5 while grounding into a career-worse three double plays in a 5-3, 11-inning loss to the Padres on Thursday.
“Hitting into three ground-ball double plays, that kills a rally a lot,” Pujols said. “It’s the first game of the year and you have 161 games left.
“I’m glad this is over. Now, we need to refresh and come back on Saturday and hopefully even up the series and try to win the series on Sunday.”
Cameron Maybin(notes) tied the game in the ninth with a two-out home run, then grounded a single that led to the go-ahead run in the 11th for the Padres, who had two hits in the first seven innings, but took advantage of a key error by Ryan Theriot(notes) in the 11th.
“Our defense was huge today,” manager Bud Black said. “The pitching and defense goes hand-in-hand. The guys we have don’t miss a step.”
Holliday went 3 for 4 with a home run in the eighth that gave St. Louis the lead in the loss. However, he left Busch Stadium complaining of stomach discomfort, and Friday the team announced he would undergo an appendectomy. It’s uncertain when he’ll return.
“I think they caught it early, so I think that’s good news,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “I don’t think it’s that bad of a blow to the team.”
St. Louis hasn’t dropped a season-opening series since 2007, when it was swept in three games by the New York Mets.
The Cardinals signed Westbrook to a two-year contract extension in November, shortly after he underwent surgery for a torn labrum.
“(He’s) very competitive, very consistent,” manager Tony La Russa said. “And you could see him get stronger deeper in the year.”
The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.55 ERA in two starts and one relief appearance against the Padres. Facing them last season for the first time since 2005, Westbrook pitched eight scoreless innings in a 4-0 win Sept. 16.
The left-hander didn’t face the Cardinals last season but went 1-0 with a 2.79 ERA in two starts against them in 2009.