Postcard from Cardinals camp for Friday, March 10

Weather: 82 degrees, partly cloudy

Result: Cardinals 7, Nationals 1

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – No Cardinals pitcher was more affected by the team’s poor defense last year than Mike Leake.

Even though Leake officially gave up only nine unearned runs last year, he was the victim of many more “non plays” which resulted in him facing more batters, being forced to leave games earlier and led to runs which technically became earned because errors were not registered on those plays.

If Friday’s game was any indication, Leake – as expected – should benefit from an improved defense this season.

He retired the first 11 batters he faced, and eight of the first 10 were retired on groundballs. The only blemish to his four-inning outing was a home run in the fourth served up to Bryce Harper.

By that time the Cardinals already had a 6-0 lead.

In his three appearances so far this spring, covering 11 innings, Leake has allowed a total of three runs, all on a windy day in Port St. Lucie, and all three were earned.

Other news and notes from Friday:

High: Leake was followed to the mound by prospect Sandy Alcantara, who worked two perfect innings as he continues to move up the ranks of the organization’s top prospects.

Low: The Cardinals could have scored even more runs but were just 3-of-12 with runners in scoring position.

At the plate: The Cardinals broke the game open with five runs in the fourth, aided by a Washington error and a couple of those “non plays.” The inning included a two-run single by Eric Fryer and an RBI single by Kolten Wong … The other RBIs in the game came on a sacrifice fly from Jhonny Peralta and a triple by Breyvic Valera … Fryer had two hits, as did Jose Martinez, whose spring average is now .400.

On the mound: Following Leake and Alcantara to the mound was Mike Mayers, who quietly has pitched very well this spring. He had two strikeouts and allowed one hit in an inning of relief, and has not allowed a run and given up only three hits in six innings this spring … Ryan Sherriff and Miguel Socolovich also pitched a scoreless inning each, with Socolovich recording two strikeouts.

In the clubhouse: Tyler Lyons, recovering from off-season knee surgery, said he expects to throw live batting practice to minor-leaguers for a second time on Saturday. He could be on track to get into a game just before camp breaks in late March.

Up next:
The Cardinals begin a string of three consecutive games in Jupiter on Saturday when they host the Braves. Former Brave John Gant will make his second start in the spot which opened up with Carlos Martinez heading to the World Baseball Classic and the injury to Trevor Rosenthal. Also scheduled to pitch are Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist and Jonathan Broxton.