Approximately 24 hours before John Gast was scheduled to make his Major League debut against the Mets, the Cardinals prospect said he wasn't feeling nervous. That is likely to change by the time the 24-year-old takes the Busch Stadium mound on Tuesday night for the first time.
"I'm just basically trying not to get too hyped up," said Gast, the Cardinals' No. 8 overall prospect according to MLB.com. "Maybe when I get here [Tuesday], that's probably when [the nerves] will start kicking in, when I go out there and start playing catch. That's probably when it'll hit me."
Gast, temporarily replacing injured starter Jake Westbrook in the rotation, earned the promotion after opening the season at Triple-A Memphis with 32 scoreless innings. Overall, Gast was 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA in seven starts with Memphis.
"He just continues to improve," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "Obviously, he had a very good April, and hopefully he can keep building on that here. He's been just a quality pitcher. He's got a good arm and knows how to pitch. He's smart."
On Tuesday, starting opposite Mets righty Dillon Gee, Gast faces a struggling Mets squad that has lost four straight games and continues to sputter offensively. New York has been limited to three or fewer runs in each of its last seven contests, resulting in a 2-5 record during that span.
"We're getting hit now with a two-headed monster: we're not hitting and we're not pitching," Mets manager Terry Collins said recently. "Certainly we've got to get it going, and there's no secret formula how to do it. You've got to go out and work your butt off and execute."
Gee is hoping his offense can break through against the Cards, as he looks to build off an impressive outing his last time out. The right-hander limited the Pirates to just one run over five innings on Thursday, but settled for a no-decision in an eventual 3-2 victory. After beginning the season 0-3 with an 8.56 ERA through his first three starts, Gee has gone 2-1 with a 3.74 ERA in four starts since.
As for Gast, he's hoping to keep the Mets offense in a rut for at least one more game, as he makes his big league debut in front of his parents, who are traveling from Florida for the game.
"I'm just going to try and go out there and execute the pitches and let the catcher guide me through that," Gast said when asked about his approach to Tuesday's start. "I'm going to focus more on making pitches."
Mets: Ankiel signs, debuts with Mets
Veteran outfielder Rick Ankiel went 0-for-3 with a walk and scored a run in Monday's series-opening loss after signing with the Mets earlier in the day.
The Mets signed Ankiel in an attempt to jumpstart their sputtering offense, particularly from the outfield position. Ankiel hit just .194 with 35 strikeouts in 62 at-bats over 25 games with the Astros this season before being designated for assignment last week.
In making his Mets debut in center field Monday, Ankiel became the 10th player to appear in the Mets' outfield in 2013.
Cardinals: Kozma set to return after day off
Shortstop Pete Kozma was replaced in the starting lineup Monday by Daniel Descalso in what Matheny called a "semi-scheduled" day off for Kozma.
The Cardinals skipper said the move was simply part of his ongoing plan to periodically start Descalso, who had last started a game on May 5. Descalso's last start at shortstop came on April 17.
Descalso went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles in Monday's victory, while Kozma eventually entered the game as a defensive substitution in the ninth inning.
• The Cardinals are 18-2 when scoring more than three runs.
• Over the last 11 games, Mets starters are just 1-5 with a 5.68 ERA.