Before he became a premier reliever coveted by the Cardinals, Brett Cecil was a promising starting pitcher for the Blue Jays. In 2010, he earned 15 wins as a starter, but his path to a successful season hit a rough spot against the Cardinals.
On June 22, 2010, the Cardinals unleashed an extra-hit barrage against Cecil at Toronto. Matt Holliday had a home run and RBI-double, Yadier Molina hit a home run and Ryan Ludwick contributed a RBI-double, leading the Cardinals to a 9-4 victory and handing Cecil just his fourth loss in 11 decisions.
Six years later, on Nov. 21, 2016, Cecil, a free agent, signed a four-year contract with the Cardinals worth $30.5 million. He was expected to team with Kevin Siegrist as one of St. Louis’ top two left-handers in the bullpen.
Cecil joined a 2017 Cardinals roster that had just three players left from the St. Louis club he faced in 2010: Molina and pitchers Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright.
Cards with clout
Cecil entered that 2010 encounter against the Cardinals having won five of his previous six starts.
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa stacked his batting order with two switch-hitters and seven right-handed batters, including designated hitter Nick Stavinoha. Holliday was the only Cardinals batter in the lineup who had faced Cecil.
In the second inning, Molina broke an 0-for-19 skid with a solo home run off Cecil. Holliday followed with a solo home run in the fourth.
With two outs and the score tied 2-2 in the fifth, the Cardinals had Randy Winn on second base. Holliday drove in Winn with a double, giving St. Louis a 3-2 lead.
Cecil issued an intentional pass to Albert Pujols, choosing instead to face Ludwick with two runners on base. Ludwick responded with a double, scoring Holliday and advancing Pujols to third.
David Freese followed with a two-run single, capping a four-run inning and giving the Cardinals a 6-2 lead.
Cecil was lifted after the inning. His totals: 5 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts.
“I’ve got to get back to work on keeping the ball down,” Cecil said to the Associated Press. “The whole game I was missing up.” Boxscore
Cecil finished the 2010 season with a 15-7 record and 4.22 ERA in 28 starts.
By 2014, when he next faced the Cardinals, Cecil had been converted into a relief pitcher.
Cecil pitched against the Cardinals twice in 2014, both times in Toronto, and yielded no runs in 1.1 total innings.
On June 6, 2014, Cecil, in relief of starter Marcus Stroman, faced two Cardinals batters in the seventh inning. He walked Matt Carpenter and induced Oscar Taveras to fly out to left. The Blue Jays won, 3-1. Boxscore
Two days later, on June 8, 2014, Cecil worked a scoreless ninth in a game the Cardinals won, 5-0. Cecil struck out Tony Cruz, gave up a single to Carpenter and got Randal Grichuk to ground into a double play. Boxscore
In 66 relief appearances in 2014, Cecil posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 76 in 53.1 innings.