Musial tributes aplenty for Cardinals

Sports

April 7th, 2013 by Ric Hanson

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Stan Musial tributes factor heavily into the St. Louis Cardinals’ opening home stand. That means several opportunities to draw on that inspiration. There’ll be even more pomp than usual before the Cardinals begin a three-game series Monday against the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds. Along with the annual motorcade delivering the team and several of its Hall of Famers clad in red jackets at home plate, Stan the Man’s four children will unveil an outfield wall marker.

The National Anthem, performed by six members of the Gateway Harmonica Club, is a nod to Musial’s favorite instrument. Musial, who entertained teammates on train trips in the 1940s and ’50s with renditions of “Wabash Cannonball” and other chestnuts, was an honorary member of that club. A full tribute and harmonica fan giveaway honoring Musial, far and away the best player in franchise history and already honored with two statues outside Busch Stadium, is set for Friday. Several Cardinals past and present attended the funeral in late January for Musial, who died at age 92 after several years of ill health, and the team is wearing a memorial jersey sleeve patch.

Lefty Jaime Garcia, who thrives at home with a career 20-11 record and 2.48 ERA, gets the call in the series opener against Mat Latos and the Reds, who finished a comfortable nine games ahead of St. Louis last season. The Cardinals are 3-3 after building momentum at the expense of the World Series champion Giants, the team they let off the hook in the NL championship series, pummeling ace Matt Cain in the series finale while taking two of three.

The Reds are coming off a strong 4-2 opening homestand against two teams that are expected to contend, putting up six runs on Stephen Strasburg on Sunday and taking two of three from the Nationals and Angels. Todd Frazier is second on the NL with a .480 average, leads the league with 12 hits including three homers, and is tied for first with nine RBIs. Newcomer Shin-Soo Choo also is off to a fast start with three homers.

The Cardinals have dominated at home against the Reds, who have won just three series and split two out of 27 chances dating to 2003. Lance Lynn (0-0) faces Bronson Arroyo (1-0) in the second game of the series on Tuesday, with Jake Westbrook (0-1) opposing Homer Bailey (1-0) in the finale. The Reds set a franchise record with 52 strikeouts the first five games, and Johnny Cueto and three relievers combined for 10 strikeouts on Sunday.