The Cardinals fielded a major league-ready line-up for the first time Friday -- and the results were all fans could hope to see when the games start to count in a couple of weeks.
Jake Westbrook pitched three nearly flawless innings and the offense, powered by Matt Holliday's home run and Yadier Molina's three hits and three RBIs in four at-bats, easily cruised to the victory.
The Cardinals scored twice in the first when Molina came to the plate with the bases loaded and two out and split the outfielders in right center. They added three more in the third with a ball Molina hit to the wall in left center and Holliday's homer.
Tyler Greene had a ton of bad luck at the plate that ended his day with an o-fer-three in the box score with a couple of strikeouts. But the first strikeout was a questionable called strike three. The second out was a ball hit to the wall just to the centerfield side of the left field power alley and the third out came with a failed check swing one pitch after Greene buggywhipped a ball down the left field line that landed just foul. He could have easily been 2-for-3 on the day with a homer and a double. Hopefully Greene's confidence isn't stressed by the bad luck he has hit into. He's playing very good defense and hitting the ball hard. He just needs to cut down on the whiffs and let his talent take over.
The biggest Marlins threat came late in the game when Eduardo Sanchez started off his inning by beaning a Miami hitter with a curve. He walked the next guy to put two on with no outs.
Molina went to the mound for a visit. And whatever he said shows why the Cardinals recently opened up the vault for him. Sanchez suddenly became aggressive, breaking a Marlins hitters' bat for a ground ball that David Freeze scooped up before stepping on third for the first out and hurling the ball across the diamond for a double play. Sanchez struck out the next Miami hitter to end the inning and the Marlins never really threatened to score again.
Also getting gold stars in the field were Holliday who made a diving catch in left, Lance Berkman who made a nice backhanded play at first base and Jon Jay who made a spiffy catch coming in on a ball to short center.