Matheny challenges players to pick up pace

Monday's lopsided affair vs. Tigers makes two straight blowout losses

Matheny challenges players to pick up pace

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Cardinals, off to a 2-6-2 record in Grapefruit League play, had their manager none too happy on Monday afternoon following a 17-5 loss to the Tigers.

A second straight blowout loss saw the Cards outscored, 28-6, over the past two days.

"That's ugly no matter wherever it is," skipper Mike Matheny said. "The backyard with your kid, you don't like to have games like that. I'd like to say you get them out of your system, but there's nothing saying that they're gone after you have a couple of them. To have two of them in a row like that is not acceptable, and these guys know that."

The Cardinals faced top-tier pitchers -- Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals on Sunday, Max Scherzer on Monday -- in both games, but that doesn't serve as an excuse for allowing 28 runs on 37 hits and 12 walks in 17 innings. On Monday, 10 of those hits went for extra bases. The Tigers hit three balls out of Roger Dean Stadium.

"Today, we got bombed with balls hit hard all over the place," Matheny said. "Shelby [Miller] was really about one pitch away from having a pretty good day in a situation where we weren't even going to give that guy [Miguel Cabrera] anything to hit right there. Next thing you know, it's two runs later."

Matheny tried to point out a few positives from the loss -- Stephen Piscotty's three-run homer, a 2-for-2 day for Peter Bourjos, drawn out at-bats by Matt Carpenter and strong defensive play from Jon Jay. But he also issued a challenge for better.

"Even though we're in Spring Training, we're still talking about an urgency, we're still talking about a level of expectation of how we want to play the game," Matheny said. "There are positives through individuals, but when you have such an ugly beating, it's hard to focus on them very long."

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.