TOP 6: Hanley Ramirez atoned for his error the previous inning with a 2-run homer to left off Francisco Samuel. Fredi Gonzalez said beforehand that he expected Ramirez to run just as much as he has in the past. But I wonder about that.
BOTTOM 5: The Cardinals added two runs in what was a debacle of an inning for the Marlins, defensively and on the mound. Hanley Ramirez booted one ball and Dan Uggla could have been charged with an error on another poor play. Chris Leroux walked a pair and hit a batter. Need I say more? So that makes fielding errors today for Gaby Sanchez at first, Dan Uggla at second and Hanley Ramirez at short. And third baseman Jorge Cantu barely got away with one in the fourth when he dropped a ground ball but picked it up in time to nip the runner on a questionable umpire's call at first. Cardinals 3, Marlins 0.
TOP 5: Cody Ross drew a leadoff walk but it was four up, three down for the Marlins. Word of warning: they're opening the clubhouse to media in a few minutes and I'll be stepping away from the live blog for an inning or two. Will get back to you ASAP.
BOTTOM 4: Wow, this game sure is moving quickly. Brett Sinkbiel gave up a leadoff single and Dan Uggla was charged with an error on an easy double play ball. But the Cardinals failed to come up with any runs. Still 1-0. Did I say this game sure is moving quickly? Hey, it's spring training. If there's extra innings, they'll stop it after 10. No more. Regular season rules don't apply.
TOP 4: We're zipping along here. The Marlins went down 1-2-3. By the way, baseball writers are every bit as superstitious as players and one thing that'll land you in hot water real quick with your media brethren is if you say "Wow, this game sure is moving quickly." Because sure as anything, you'll end up with extra innings or a 2-hour rain delay.
BOTTOM 3: Thompson looked sharp, facing the minimum three batters. Albert Pujols, who looks like he could be a rising star :) reached on a bloop single that dropped in front of Hermida and Maybin. But Thompson retired Ankiel on a fly ball and got Ludwick to ground into a double play. That's the third twin-killing of the game.
TOP 3: Another scoreboard zero for the Marlins. Baker singled. Ludwick made a diving catch on Maybin's shallow fly ball. Otherwise, nada...
BOTTOM 2: Anibal Sanchez is done for the day, turning in his two innings per plans. The first-inning error didn't help him, but he didn't help himself either. He walked three and gave up a pair of hits. Still, he leaves trailing just 1-0. Lefty Aaron Thompson will be taking over in the third.
TOP 2: Nothing doing for the Marlins. It was a 1-2-3 inning.
BOTTOM 1: So much for that improved defense at first base. Rookie Gaby Sanchez dropped a direct throw from Anibal Sanchez to allow the leadoff runner to reach and Anibal walked a pair of Cardinals, including Rick Ankiel with the bases loaded, as St. Louis grabbed a 1-0 lead. It could have been worse. The Cardinals had the bases loaded with none out. But A. Sanchez struck out Ryan Ludwick and got Chris Duncan to hit into an inning-ending double play. One unearned run to put the Cards on top.
Was just checking the results from a poll I ran a few days ago and a whopping 74.1 percent of 200 respondents picked the Marlins to either finish first (34.8 percent) or second (39.3 percent) in the NL East this season. Not even Obama has those kind of approval ratings. The poll was rounded out by 18.4 percent picking the team to finish third, 4.5 percent choosing fourth, and just 3.0 percent picking them last. I checked, and those six voters did not all come from the Washington, D.C. area.
TOP 1: The new 1-3 combination did its job. Cameron Maybin showed bunt on the first pitch before slapping a single to left on the second, and Hanley Ramirez walked in his at bat. Cleanup hitter Jorge Cantu also singled. But the Marlins got zip because John Baker bounced into a double play and Dan Uggla struck out looking.
By the way, the Marlins are tonight's featured team on MLB Network's "30 Teams in 30 Days." The program airs at 6 p.m. .
12:45 p.m. -- Hello from Roger Dean Stadium, where we await the first game of the spring training season for the Marlins. They're taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. Couple of quick notes: Fredi Gonzalez talked to us on the field a few moments ago, most of the questions directed at the new lineup (see my earlier blog). Cameron Maybin is the leadoff hitter for now, but Gonzalez doesn't want to rule out Emilio Bonifacio for that spot. Hanley Ramirez, though, is cemented in the third spot unless he nosedives. Gonzalez pointed out that the Marlins were 10-6 last season when Ramirez hit third, 69-66 when he was at leadoff.
The Cardinals, in case anyone is interested, are sending Blake Hawksworth to the mound to face Anibal Sanchez. The St. Louis lineup: 1. Skip Schumaker, 2b; 2. Colby Rasmus, lf; 3. Albert Pujols, 1b; 4.Rick Ankiel, cf; 5. Ryan Ludwick, rf; 6. Chris Duncan, dh; 7. Khalil Greene, ss; 8. Jason LaRue, c; 9. Joe Mather, 3b.
Pretty day. The wind is blowing in from right.