Cardinals Go For Sweep Today

Jason Marquis appears to be on the verge of living up to his great potential. Today is the first start in what should be the best season, in his major league career.


The Cardinals will go for a season-opening three-game sweep of the Phillies, behind the arm of Jason Marquis, when the teams play a getaway day game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Jason Marquis looks to pick up where he left off at the end of last season as he makes his 2006 debut. Marquis went 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his final seven starts of 2005.

This spring Marquis was very impressive, putting up a 1.96 ERA with 14 strikeouts and only six walks in 23 innings. My take is, this will be Marquis best major league career season to date.

During spring training, the recently retired, former St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, Cal Eldred was in camp working with Marquis on his cutter. In addition he's been putting in a lot of time working on his change up.

If he's able to master the cutter and throw the change consistently, it will help throw hitters off the two-seam sinking fastball that is his out pitch.

From an article at, Marquis is quoted as saying, "The last [few spring starts], my mechanics, my delivery, my rhythm have been real good," Marquis said in late March. "I've been able to do a lot of things. I'm able to get the ball down in the zone and work everything off of that."

When I spoke to Cal Eldred, he said, "Marquis stuff is so good, any of his pitches could be an out pitch, depending on the situation and how the batter has been set up."

Baseball fans from around the nation will be checking in on today's game as the Phillies shortstop, Jimmy Rollins looks to extend his hitting streak to 39 games.

Rollins went 2-for-4 with two doubles Wednesday to extend his streak to 38 games after going 1-for-4 in Monday's 13-5 defeat. Rollins is chasing legendary, Hall of Famer, the Yankee Clipper, Joe DiMaggio's major league record of 56 consecutive games.

Marquis posted a 13-14 record last season, battling an up and down year in which he posted a career season high with 207.0 IP. He was 0-1 vs. the Phillies last season, lasting just 4.0 IP in a 7-4 loss, on May 19th at Philadelphia. In seven career starts, Marquis holds a 2-2 mark with one save, 4.62 ERA in 14 games.

The subject of a lot of trade rumors this winter, Jason finally, (through no fault of his own) signed a one-year, $5.15 million contract on January 17, 2006 and can earn an additional $275,000 in performance bonuses: $25,000 for 200 innings, $75,000 each for 210 and 215 innings and $100,000 for 220 innings. The deal also includes a $50,000 award bonus should Marquis repeat as the NL Silver Slugger winner at his position.

Jason was acquired from the Atlanta Braves with pitchers Ray King and Adam Wainwright in exchange for outfielders J.D. Drew and Eli Marrero on December 13, 2003, in what can be described as one of the best deals ever made by the Cardinals GM & Vice-President, Walt Jocketty.

Today's game will be televised on FSN Midwest and starts at 2:05 pm, CDT.


Coming Up:

Friday: Cardinals (Jeff Suppan, 16-10, 3.57 in 2005) at Cubs (Greg Maddux, 13-15, 4.24 in 2005), 1:20 p.m. CDT (Cubs home opener)

Saturday: Cardinals (Chris Carpenter, 1-0, 7.20) at Cubs (Carlos Zambrano, 0-0, 9.64), 1:20 p.m. CDT

Saturday: Cardinals (Sidney Ponson, 7-11, 6.22 in 2005) at Cubs (Sean Marshall -- Major League debut), 1:20 p.m. CCT



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