SAN DIEGO -- It's a 1-2 right-handed bullpen punch that the Cardinals hoped would put their rivals on the ropes. And in Thursday's 2-1 win over the Padres, it worked to perfection.The Cardinals spent big on acquiring Greg Holland in the offseason. He was coming of a 41-save season with
SAN DIEGO -- It's a 1-2 right-handed bullpen punch that the Cardinals hoped would put their rivals on the ropes. And in Thursday's 2-1 win over the Padres, it worked to perfection.
The Cardinals spent big on acquiring Greg Holland in the offseason. He was coming of a 41-save season with the Rockies.
They also snagged Bud Norris, who led the Angels with 19 saves last year.
Both were used in the opening of the four-game series at San Diego. Holland, who had yet to record a save or hold, pitched the eighth inning, and minus a walk, looked good. He helped himself immensely when snagging a tricky one-hopper off the bat of Eric Hosmer for an out.
"That play was a whole lot tougher than it looked,'' manager Mike Matheny said. "That wasn't your average play.''
Trouble is Holland (0-1) has been average over his 10 1/3 innings this season. But Matheny said the righty is close to regaining his footing.
"He's had a lot of positives here,'' Matheny said. "We are real excited where he is and what kind of options that he gives us late in the game. I think he's just like everybody else, that he needed a little confidence. But the stuff is looking right, too.''
Holland passed the baton to Norris for the ninth and he ran with it for his eighth save. Norris did so after being lifted from Saturday's game with tightness in his right triceps.
"I felt good,'' he said. "I wanted a couple of days off and I'm happy we took the precaution to get me some rest.''
Norris said it was time to slightly tap the brakes with the season so young.
"That was a big part of it,'' he said. "I want to be able to pitch down the stretch, too. I know you got to try and win all of them. They count in late September and they count now.''
Norris said even if the numbers don't line up with Holland currently, they will soon.
"He's a lock-down guy, too,'' he said. "When he is right, he's right. We just want to get him right and get him to help us out because we are going to need him, too.
"We are different guys and we do some different things. But at the end of the day we are bulldogs and we want to be on the field."
Jay Paris is a contributor to MLB.com based in San Diego.