By: Jim Tsapelas
With the bases loaded in the top of the eighth inning, the visiting St. Louis Cardinals trailing the home team Miami Marlins, the Cardinals pushed the tying and go ahead runs across the plate to beat Miami three to two.
The scoring magic in the Cardinals half of the eighth occurred on an Anthony Garcia double, which plated Charlie Tilson and Patrick Wisdom.
As I have written earlier this spring, the Cardinals have added the threat of speed to their offensive arsenal. Tilson stole two bases; the second after Marlins’ reliever, Scott McGough, hit Tilson with a pitch in the top of the ninth inning.
When the Redbirds break camp and go north for the 2016 season, the speedy Tommy Pham will go north with the club. If there is a need, during the season for an additional outfielder, Tilson will get the call-up. A Chicago native, Tilson, as a minor leaguer has seventy-four career stolen bases; having stolen forty-six in 2015 at AA-Springfield of the Texas League.
This offseason Cardinals’ General Manager John Mozeliak made significant moves to enhance all aspects of the game; with upgrades in the pitching staff, the addition of Brayan Pena as a back-up to Yadier Molina, and to the bench.
Three of the five Cardinal starters are capable of winning twenty games each. Five position players are capable of hitting twenty or more home runs each. Even with the loss of Lance Lynn to Tommy John Surgery, and the failure to secure the services of Jason Heyward and John Lackey, this is a much improved Cardinal team than the 2015 version; which was injury ridden and won one hundred games.
In Saturday’s game Miami out hit St. Louis ten to eight. Both teams had their share of defensive errors with the Cardinals committing two and the Marlins three. The fact of the matter is, fielders aren’t usually sharp, defensively, in the spring. Fielders, much like pitchers, become more precise as the season develops.
Cardinals’ starter, Marco Gonzales, threw two and two-thirds innings, allowed four hits, two unearned runs, and walked one. He was followed by “The Stone Buddha” formerly known as “The Final Boss” the Korean born Seugn Hwan Oh who was perfect in one and one-third innings of work. Oh inherited three runners in the second from Gonzales; Oh did not allow any of the inherited runners to score. In 2016, Oh is expected to be the eighth inning man-setting up the closer Trevor Rosenthal. Getting the win was Trey Nielsen (1-0) who also inherited three runners; none of which scored. In one and two-third innings of work, Nielsen walked one and struck out one. Miguel Socolovich picked up his first save of the spring by throwing a one, two three, ninth inning; while striking out one Miami batter. In 2015, Socolovich was 4-1, with an ERA of .333 in forty appearances.
Taking the Miami loss was Raudel Lazo (0-1).
On Sunday a pair of right-handers meet as the visiting Washington Nationals come to Roger Dean Stadium to take on the St. Louis Cardinals. Starting for the Nats, Blake Treinen (0-0); and for the Cards, Deck McGuire. Starting time 12:05 CST.
Spring Training Odds and Ends:
Matt Holliday was a late scratch from Saturday’s line-up. It was reported Holliday was experiencing lower back stiffness.