LAKELAND, Fla. -- The big bats did what you'd expect them to Saturday at Joker Marchant Stadium. Matt Holliday homered to get the Cardinals on the board early, only to see the Tigers roar to life on a Prince Fielder ... triple?Well, OK, maybe that wasn't exactly what the 10,024 fans in attendance expected, but Fielder's RBI triple in the fourth was one of several offensive highlights for the Tigers in a 10-3 victory over the Cards on St. Patrick's Day.
"That was my dad's favorite play -- a triple," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "To see Prince Fielder leg one out, I got a kick out of it. I don't expect to see many more of those. But in all seriousness, he's much more athletic than I thought him to be."With both clubs donning festive green jerseys and caps, the Cardinals got some immediate offense off Tigers left-hander Adam Wilk, making his bid for the fifth spot in the Detroit rotation. Tyler Greene led the game off with a double and, one out later, the red-hot Holliday hammered a two-run shot to the lawn in left-center field for his second homer of the spring. Just like that, it was 2-0 Cards.
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, when Greene snagged a Don Kelly liner and then doubled up Delmon Young at second for an inning-ending double play. The Cards then padded their lead in the third, when World Series hero David Freese singled home Greene to make it 3-0. This Tigers lineup, however, does not go down easily. In the fourth, it got to Garcia, as Miguel Cabrera led off with a single and Fielder sent a grounder to the right-field corner and motored all the way to third for an RBI triple. Maybe that wasn't the exact manner of run-production the Tigers expected when they paired Cabrera and Fielder (who has just nine triples in his seven-year career) in the middle of the order, but they'll certainly take it. And the runs kept coming as the inning evolved, as Delmon Young doubled home Fielder then later scored on a double play to even it up at 3. And in the fifth, the Tigers took over. Jackson doubled, and Garcia was lifted. Reliever R.J. Swindle came on and immediately uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runner. Brennan Boesch's sacrifice fly gave the Tigers their first lead, and they added on in a big way. After Cabrera and Fielder singled, Young cleared the bases with a three-run shot to left to make it 7-3. It was the third homer of the spring for Young, who now has 15 RBIs in 11 games played.
"He looks good, his swing's good, he feels good," Leyland said of Young. "I think he's on a mission."The Tigers added another pair in the sixth, got a solo shot from Ryan Raburn (his fifth of the spring) in the seventh and never looked back, improving to 11-1-3 in Grapefruit League play. Up next: Miguel Cabrera has made a strong first impression in his transition to third base, and he'll be back at the position Sunday, when the Tigers travel to Viera, Fla., to face the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET on Gameday Audio. Doug Fister will make the start opposite Edwin Jackson.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.