FORT MYERS, Fla. — Kyle McClellan passed his latest test for the Cardinals, handling an imposing lineup without his ‘A’ game.
The right-hander won a matchup of No. 5 starters Sunday, pitching five shutout innings in a 10-3 win over a Red Sox team that started most of its projected opening-day lineup.
“I thought his stuff was good, his location was off,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “For this place, the wind goes the other direction, they took advantage of it a couple of times. But he still made a ton of pitches and got the ball on the ground a lot.”
McClellan (3-0) gave up three hits and three walks with two strikeouts against a lineup that included what are expected be most of Boston’s regulars. The exception was catcher Jason Varitek, who is expected to back up Jarrod Saltalamacchia this season.
“We knew (McClellan) was a quality pitcher, known for a couple years,” La Russa said. “But it was a good test.”
McClellan has never started a big league game in the regular season, but enjoyed facing the Red Sox, who are projected to have one of baseball’s top offenses.
“I like competing against that type of lineup, for sure,” McClellan said.
McClellan said he didn’t have his curveball, but relied on his other three pitches.
“It was a grind,” he said. “I didn’t have my good stuff. But that’s the benefit of having two off-speed pitches. I can go to the other one and I threw my slider pretty good.”
He was not happy with the number of walks he issued, though, calling it “inexcusable.”
Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2) took the loss, going 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on three hits and two walks with four strikeouts.
“I thought he had good tempo,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Threw strikes. That’s two (starts) in a row now. Looks like he’s starting to get geared up. Probably could have gone maybe a hitter or two longer. Wanted to see Andrew (Miller) face a lefty. It kind of fell apart from there. But no, I thought (Matsuzaka) pitched pretty good.”
The Cardinals sent 14 batters to the plate in the sixth inning and scored 10 runs, all with two outs. Albert Pujols delivered the big blow, a three-run double off Scott Atchison.
Matsuzaka started the inning, getting two quick outs before giving up a walk to Pujols and a run-scoring double to Matt Holliday.
Left-hander Miller, vying for a spot in Boston’s bullpen, came on in relief. He faced six batters without getting an out, allowing six runs on four hits and two walks.
“(He) walked the first hitter,” Francona said. “That’s kind of a reminder, of coming in out of the bullpen how important it is to attack the strike zone because, (he) had an infield single and a bloop, but things fell apart from there.”
Holliday went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two RBIs. David Freese went 2-for-3 with an RBI.
Marco Scutaro went 2-for-2 with a walk for the Red Sox.