MEMPHIS, TN - The second of two exhibition games between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Memphis Redbirds brought a few surprises in route to a 7-3 Cardinals victory.
Though reigning National League MVP Albert Pujols failed to deliver another six-RBI performance as he did during Friday's exhibition game, baseball fans at AutoZone Park did witness a couple of unexpected guests.
It was the top of the eighth with the score 7-3, when Cardinal third base coach Jose Oquendo stepped into the batter's box.
"I had LaRue still warming up McClellan so I was looking for a hitter," Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa said, "and [Oquendo] volunteered."
After a collection of pitches, Oquendo was walked. On base, the 45-year-old ex-Cardinal infielder wore a beaming smile as he interacted with the crowd and teased Redbirds pitcher Adam Ottavino at the possibility of taking a base. Despite his and the crowd's excitement, he was left stranded on third base.
The unconventional continued in the bottom of the ninth as Redbirds Manager Chris "The Hammer" Maloney walked up to the plate to hit against Cardinals closer and former Redbird Jason Motte.
"I think 'Hammer' got a little bit more love," Motte said comparing the crowd's reaction of Maloney to his. "But it was good being back out there."
Even La Russa questioned the decision for Maloney to bat against his former pitcher.
"I told Maloney, 'You may have more guts than brains,'" said La Russa.
After a few lookers and a hard swinging strike, Maloney caught wood for a soft groundout to end the game. Motte grabbed one strikeout in his one inning back on the mound in Memphis.
While the two out-of-place 40-somethings that graced the plate late, the game itself had its moments early. Cardinals Outfielder Rick Ankiel started the scoring with a two-run homer to center field, but was quickly answered by the Redbirds when Tyler Greene stole home after Nick Stavinoha brought in the first run for the 'Birds.
The Cardinals continued to score over the next three innings on a Skip Schumaker single, a Khalil Greene two-run homer and a Chris Duncan double. The Redbirds on the other hand, failed to keep up, as Shane Robinson scored the team's final run in the third.
On the mound, Cardinals starter Joel Pineiro produced a solid line, totaling three hits, two earned runs and six strikeouts over seven innings. Opposite Pineiro, Mitchell Boggs started for the 'Birds and allowed six runs and eight hits with just one strikeout over 3.2 innings of work. It was reliever Adam Ottavino who looked sharp for Memphis, pitching two strikeouts and only two earned runs on three hits over 4.1 innings.
The Redbirds will have four off days to make the final adjustments needed before starting the 2009 season against the Oklahoma City RedHawks on Thursday night's Home Opener.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.