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Dean Kiekhefer makes his MLB debut

by Jeremy Karp

During Saturday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the St. Louis Cardinals sent in reliever Dean Kiekhefer to make his Major League Baseball debut. The 26-year old from Kentucky was called up from Memphis as reliever Seth Maness was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an arm injury.

Prior to his debut, Kiekhefer, who is considered more than just a “lefty-specialist”, had stated in interviews that he has developed his change-up more over time, which has helped his ascension to the Cardinals main roster.

“The weakest part of my game has always been an off-speed pitch,” Kiekhefer said. “I was throwing it too hard and it was getting hit hard. Getting out to Arizona (Fall League) and continuing to hone in on that pitch — I carried that confidence into spring training.”

St. Louis, whose starting pitcher was Carlos Martinez on Saturday night, were trailing 4-1 heading into the sixth inning, when manager Mike Matheny sent out Kiekhefer to pitch. Immediately, he made his presence felt, by striking out four of the first five batter that he faced, starting off by getting Joc Pederson caught looking at strike three.

But Corey Seager, who already was having himself a strong game, hit a solo shot right over the head of Randal Grichuk to make it a 5-1, and put the only blemish on Kiekhefer’s debut night.

Due to the home run allowed, the lefty was taken out before the conclusion of the seventh inning.

With the 5-1 loss, St. Louis dropped to 19-18, and third place in the National League Central (Pittsburgh has the tiebreaker).

On Sunday, the Cardinals will face off against the Dodgers on Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, as Mike Leake gets the start for St. Louis, looking for his second straight win, while Alex Wood will get the start on the mound for the Dodgers.

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