Cards top the Marlins 5-0 -

Cards top the Marlins 5-0

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St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday hits a single in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) By Patrick Semansky St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Holliday hits a single in the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins in Jupiter, Fla., Friday, March 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) By Patrick Semansky

-- First and foremost, the most newsworthy item of the day is Skip Schumaker hurting his oblique.  He was very quiet about it after the game but he did tell reporters that it's on the right side and it feels worse than it did last year when he hurt it during the playoffs.  Skip seemed extremely upset at the situation...leading us to believe it's a cause for concern.  That concern was essentially verified moments later when Mike Matheny said it did not look good.  There is no word yet on whether this will keep Schumaker out for an extended period of time but typically oblique injuries are not just a day-to-day thing.  Lance Lynn missed several weeks last year with an oblique strain.  It's too early to say exactly what the injury is so we'll have to wait to get the specifics...but it's worth noting Schumaker looked very unhappy after the game and seemed quite concerned.

-- One more non-game related note.  Chris Carpenter threw a bullpen session today in trying to come back from a neck injury that has forced him to miss multiple starts so far.  Carpenter said he threw at about 70-75 percent for 30 pitches.  All were fastballs.  He said he felt good and strong but is not ready for game action just yet.  He says he needs at least another bullpen session (probably against hitters the next time) before he feels ready to go into a game. 

-- Finally to the game today...the pitching was terrific.  Jake Westbrook threw 4 shutout innings while giving up just 2 hits and a walk.  Mike Matheny said afterwards that he believes Westbrook is a different pitcher this year.  He couldn't put his finger on exactly why that's the case but he said he seems much more confident in his stuff and is just sharper in general.  Having Jake Westbrook perform like he did in 2010 would be a huge thing for the Redbirds.  They've got 4 starters that they feel quite confident in.  Westbrook is the wild card.  He was quite inconsistent all of 2011.  If he can get his sinker going, get ground balls the way he did with the Cards the year could be a dynamic rotation in St. Louis.  Right now, though, it's clear Westbrook is pitching with much more confidence. 

-- In the bullpen, Eduardo Sanchez had a shutout inning as did Mitchell Boggs.  It is going to be a very interesting next few weeks with the competition in the bullpen.  I find it very hard to believe Sanchez won't make the team.  He's had as good of a spring as anyone so far.  How can you send him to AAA?  I know he's got options and it's easier to keep control of everyone without having to get rid of a veteran but still...Sanchez has arguably the best arm in the bullpen not named Jason Motte.  Boggs had one really bad outing earlier in spring that inflated his ERA (currently at 6.75) but even he's been better of late.  Throw in Scott Linebrink, Kyle McClellan, Fernando Salas. Lance Lynn, Jason Motte, Mark Rzepczynski and JC Romero and you've got a stocked 'pen. 

-- I mentioned this morning about the future of Trevor Rosenthal.  He also threw a couple shutout innings today and looked excellent in doing so.  He's got a fantastic arm that you think would project in the bullpen because he can hit 100 mph.  Mike Matheny says he still sees Rosenthal as a starter right now but that remains to be seen.  He's still got another couple years in the minors before he's ready to compete for a spot in the big leagues.

-- Talked to Mark Buehrle after the game today.  He said he was leaving the ball up in the zone the entire game and, quite obviously, can't do that if he wants to have success.  He's not the type to give up 5 runs on 6 hits in just 2 and a third innings.  I also asked Buehrle about facing the Cardinals (he's a St. Charles native) and he said that used to be a big deal for him back when he was younger but now that he's been around for several seasons that has worn off.  He says he's not in awe anymore.

-- Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday combine for 5 hits today and their averages for spring are .476 and .500, respectively.  Both have been hitting the ball extremely hard and seem to have their timing midway through March.  That doesn't necessarily mean they're ahead of schedule but it is worth noting.  Holliday says he really doesn't turn on the gas until a few games before the regular season.

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